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A Critical Care Physician Moonlights as a Photographer

AUVELAIS, Belgium — Frédéric Salomez, MD, is a doctor in the intensive care unit at the Sambre and Meuse Regional Hospital (CHRSM), Sambre site, in Belgium. He is also a photographer. Passionate about photography from a young age, his hobby has become a second job and is a way of letting off steam. Some time ago, Salomez asked hospital management if he could take photos in the hospital and create an exhibition. His request was met with delight. This exhibition, entitled “Behind the Scenes,” was unveiled at the 51st anniversary of the CHRSM Sambre site.

“I tried to take the least intrusive artistic approach possible,” Salomez told Mediquality, “because I didn’t feel comfortable intruding on patients’ privacy. But still, showing the behind-the-scenes of the hospital was important to me. This meant I had to take a suggestive approach without encroaching on the patient’s bubble,” he added. “The aspect of my approach that I found pretty complicated was having to limit myself to 22 pictures to show all the roles the hospital plays.”

Salomez took one shot of the reception area, one photo of the imaging department, one of the ambulance service, and so on. He confesses to having twisted reality from time to time to be more allusive than accurate.

Black and White

The photos in the exhibition are almost entirely in black and white. “Ninety percent of my photos are in black and white. I only use color when it adds something,” said Salomez. “In photos, I find it easier to convey emotion in black and white, because color sometimes distracts from the emotion. If color adds something, then it has its place. Otherwise, it doesn’t. On a technical level, it was also difficult to include color in a hospital with its cold strip lighting. But I think that the best photos are the ones where you don’t ask if it’s in color or not!”

Letting Off Steam

Salomez explains that his second profession is a way of letting off steam from his primary job as a critical care physician. “For me, the best way to wind down is by getting out my camera and taking photographs of people out and about. I like taking photos of people in the street, using a small, discrete, and silent camera, so as not to be intrusive,” he said. “In these kinds of photos, you have direct contact with people; you have to be able to feel this in the photograph. Going outside, asking people if you can photograph them, is not always an easy task. You need to feel the emotion depending on your mood. Sometimes I go for contact, sometimes contrast, and sometimes graphical photography, just depending on the light at the time and the graphical features.”

Salomez started taking photos when he received his first camera as a teenager. “Everyone takes photos,” he admits, “especially nowadays with digital photography.” But for him, it’s become a real passion.

This article was translated from Mediquality, which is part of the Medscape professional network.

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