PAW_II: operating theatre 6

A surgeon as person at work. I considered briefly as whether or not this might be cheating a little. Working at a hospital, I’m not unfamiliar with the operating room environment and access to the OR certainly wasn’t difficult to get. Still, I rest assured. Due to the nature of the assignment, coupled with the technical limitations it placed on me, it would certainly be different to the way I had previously photographed operations.
I felt comfortable from the start working on this brief. Having got to know the camera a little on the previous one, it wasn’t such a fiddle with the exposure and focus. It seems that getting accustomed to a new piece of equipment, a camera in this case, is in a way similar to constantly changing lenses and other bits of equipment on a shoot. Constanly fiddling around with gadgets rather than paying attention to that which is really important. I’m sure this is not only confusing to the photographer, but also to those being photographed. Giving the impression that the equipment is more important than observing and interacting with the subject, or not, as the case maybe.
Anyway, feeling somewhat free from this clutter of photo-equipment, I went about my business. I started photographing straight away, not spending much time to chat. As though I might be making my role in this situation quite clear to everyone. Looking at the first few images on the contacts, I couldn’t say for sure if that’s the reason or if it’s just me getting warmed up, or even if I was behaving any differently than I usually do. I felt more aware of my interaction and behaviour whilst on this job, than I had done for a long time. A certain amount of “warming up” is nearly always necessary. Since the arrival of the digital cameras, I’ve noticed that this warming up period has become more “wasteful” than it used to be. Maybe it’s because the digital image as such doesn’t cost anything. “I can shoot as many frames as I want, I could still delete them afterwards”. Whilst not being really wasteful in economic terms, it probably doesn’t help to make better images and will most certainly increase the time I spend editing my work afterwards. If the cameras get even quicker and better (which they most certainly will) then it will just be a case of shooting a film and cutting out the best frames… is that the future of photojournalism? I certainly hope not. This is certainly how some people perceive the work of professional photographers. At the risk of sounding naive, I still feel that someone wielding a camera with a brain and a heart, choosing carefully which moments to photograph, is always going to make better images…

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