Monday, January 19, 2009

The Final Portrait

I spent the today in Houston at St. Joseph's Medical Center photographing in an operating room. It took me nearly five months to get access. In the grand scheme of things its not that long unless you are on deadline.

I tried to prepare mentally for what I might want to do in the space but having never seen this specific OR I couldn't plan too much. I met my contact Louise at 12:30 and changed in to scrubs. She led me to one of the three surgical suites in the women's center. The OR was much smaller than I expected. I had photographed in an OR at St. Jo's before but in another section of the hospital.

Not knowing how long I would have, I quickly set up the RZ with a polaroid back and tried to figure out which direction to shoot. In the past when I've done my self-portraits in medical spaces I've been completely alone. I was free to act and and explore my surrounding uninhibited. However today, people continued to look in through the windows, come in to the room etc. I'm not blaming anyone its just the nature of the space. I feel this interrupted time will definitely be reflected in the images I captured today. I believe I got something worthwhile however not exactly what I had intended to create. Who knows, maybe I'll be surprised when I get the film developed.

The two already existing self-portraits taken in an exam room and morgue I had time to explore the space and get over being intimidated by my surroundings. This was not the case today. In some ways I felt the room controlled me and I was unable to control my actions and emotions in the space. Maybe its my past experiences in operating rooms or reenacting my own surgery for cervical cancer might have contributed to the vibe I was giving off and reacting to. One of the shots will go in the show. I'm not sure yet if its as strong or stronger than the two existing self-portraits. Although the same process was followed to create this new OR portrait the look and feel are a little different. I'll post a polaroid soon. I welcome any thoughts.