Eye See Said the Blind Man - Phil Snow


© Phil Snow

2011 BioImages Award of Excellence

This photo was taken by Phil Snow at the request of a university and alumni magazine doing a spotlight feature on this particular faculty member.

"Prior to the actual shoot, we were discussing what we were wanting when the doctor inadvertently inspired me. He was showing me the 'tools of the trade' when he held up the lens and I saw the inverted reflection. I knew we had to incorporate that somehow and as we worked to get the reflection large enough to appreciate it, he extended his arm towards me and that is when the image came to life. I was just trying to create something different, fun, and with visual interest."

"The photo was taken with a Nikon D3x with the Nikkor ED 17-35mm 1:2.8 shot at f/22. It was actually created in a small laboratory area, where I set up a grey muslin background. I used a single soft box, off to my right, and placed it as close as I could without blowing out his hand. It was a simple set up, but I had to drag the shutter to 1/25 second to get the exposure from the exam light in the background and the flare from the doctors spot light."

"I was constantly talking to the doctor, letting him know what I was trying to capture, and keeping him excited about the photo at the same time."

Read more about this photographer

Phil SnowPhil Snow's father introduced him to photography as a child, but his real passion for photography started in high school, when he took the subject as an alternative class and his teacher inspired him to pursue it as a career. He received a degree in Biomedical Photography from the Ohio Institute of Photography in Dayton, Ohio.

"During my education, I was fortunate enough to accept an internship with Dan Patton at The Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, which changed my career path from general medical photography to stay within the Veterinary Medicine sector." He has worked for The University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine since 1994.

Below, Snow shares insight into his specialty of medical photography and advice for others interested in this field.

What do you consider your specialty or style?

I call my style 'light and fast'. We are a teaching hospital, so I try to not be seen or in the way. I use mostly available light in general clinical areas and a bounce strobe in surgery. My favorite shoots are those in surgery assisting the doctors with their teaching materials for use in the classroom or book chapters. There is something very gratifying to seeing our students studying a medical textbook and knowing their education is coming from the use of your photographs.

Describe your typical workday.

Every day is different, which is what I love about this job. One day I could be shooting surgery, the next a construction project, the next faculty portraits. You must be a jack-of-all-trades. You never know what your next request will be.

What is the most used computer-editing tool in your workflow?

Adobe Photoshop. I log numerous hours editing images. I love to turn my desktop into the old darkroom I had in school. I turn the lights off, crank up the music and let the editing begin. Your imagination is your only limit.

What elements are important to you when you judge or critique your work or the work of other professional photographers?

Visual impact is number one. Why do I want to keep looking at the photo? If you do not have visual interest, you have lost the game. If a photo has interest, then I move into what story in the photo trying to tell? Last, I will worry about technical correctness of an image. You must understand the rules, but then I break them every chance I get.

Do you have any advice for photographers interested in a career in biomedical/life sciences photography?

Never stop learning! Be active in associations like BCA and love what you do. An image without passion is just a picture.