Feb 07 2008

the “hallway test”

Published by at 9:44 pm under healthcare,portraits,process,worklife

“No Buck Rogers – No Bucks!”

My variation of a line that came from Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff”, the book about the history of the Mercury Astronauts. In the movie version one astornaut is complaining about all the PR events they had to attend. Gordon Cooper defend the practice by saying, “You know what make this bird go up? Funding is make this bird go up.” “He’s right,” responds Gus Grissom. “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”

When I’m shooting is medical research labs where often the most important high-tech piece of equipment often looks like a toaster oven. It is my job to put a little “Buck Rogers” quality into story. I’m often shooting the researcher as a way to entice donors to support the wonderful research. Thus -”No Buck Rogers – No Bucks!”

20060424 CS 9321 the hallway test
Martin Hewison, Ph.D. analyzes vitamin D metabolism in different human tissues and diseases using high-performance liquid chromatography equipment.

But I always try to balance out the Buck Rogers quality with accuracy as well.  All too often I see images of a lab researcher lovingly staring at a collection of cool looking beakers filled with yellow, blue and red liquid. It does add some color to the scene, but anyone that has spent time in a lab knows someone was having fun with a set of food coloring dyes instead of showing real science.

My “Hallway Test” was invented during this photo of vitamin D researcher Martin Hewison, Ph. D. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I was doing my Buck Rogers thing hiding lighting sources in all sorts of strange places to make him look good all the while I stressing the importance of having his action be realistic. I casually mention that I wanted his friends back in Birmingham, England to be impressed when they looked at the photo. He replied, “I’m more concerned about the colleagues that I’ll see in the hallway the next day than my friends in England.”

Thus was born “The Hallway Test”.

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