Diverse Perspectives & Advocacy

Photography & Nursing: Beyond the Camera

Chad Bleich, RN
June 12, 2018
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Nurse and Photographer

I photograph things... with my Canon 80D, and with my mind. I’m a Registered Nurse and if you’re reading this, chances are, you are too. Us nurses go to work every day. I don’t just mean when we clock in and out, I literally mean every single day. We can’t shut off our brains – we can’t clock out on the thoughts, analysis, feelings, and emotions that the shift provided and are ingrained in us as nurses.

If you’re a nurse, you get it, but that’s the problem – it’s nearly impossible for others to understand.

I’m an Emergency Room nurse, which means every shift is a critical, who-knows-what-will-happen situation. We’re constantly assessing people and projecting their outcomes. When you become accustomed to doing this all the time you can’t just simply escape from the routine. Don’t let me single out ER nurses, though, this happens to all nurses everywhere.

A few months ago, I was in a theater and the next row down I heard some heavy, labored, wet breathing (#chfexacerbation?). The nurse in me couldn’t ignore it; the movie just wasn’t the same. As nurses we do this every single day. We do it to our family, our friends, the random lady at the post office. How do we escape? I mean really, because no one likes to take their work home with them.

Back to the first sentence; I photograph things. . . with my Canon 80D (yes, I have ADD).

I love my 80D! For those who aren’t real familiar with Digital Cameras, it’s considered an amateur level professional (contradiction? I think not!) DSLR. It can take some amazing photos. Really, one of the few advantages of a more expensive camera than this one like a Canon 5D Mark IV is how well the camera takes pictures in low-light. I digress, however (told you, ADD).

photo forested landscape overlooking a river at sunset nursing and photography

Balancing Nursing and Photography

I use my camera to escape my nursing mind, my nursing world. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a nurse, but everyone needs an escape now and then, and this is mine. Besides being a hobbyist photographer, I also work part-time for another photographer shooting weddings (for those not familiar with the lingo it doesn’t involve a gun, it just means I take pictures there…aka photo ”shoot”).

I enjoy all types of photography; landscapes, portraits, weddings, etc (feel free to check out my IG @chad_allenphotography).

As I casually stroll through life I notice everything, especially with my ADD! But when I’m behind a camera… everything melts away. I feel nothing but focused, and the rest of the world doesn’t matter. All that I’m concerned with is the scene in front of me.

If that scene is a beautiful landscape, I feel peaceful. If it’s a happy couple, I feel so much joy it’s indescribable. When I stare through the lens at an eclipse or the moon, I feel awe. Photography can convey so many emotions. One scene can make one person warm inside, but bring another to tears, and yet another person angry, just one picture; I get to capture that scene.

Nursing excites me, but photography… it calms me, it makes me stop and smell the roses (yes I know cliché).

We all live busy lives, but when we find something we truly appreciate it helps us to just slow down and think; to think, and appreciate what we have. It can be easy to get jaded in nursing, especially in the ER. So go ahead, find something you love doing, and get paid for it while you’re at (if you can and still enjoy it).

Nursing is rewarding, but HIPAA limits what we can share. Nursing is an album of experience, thousands of words that cannot be shared. With photography, I have no limits. Creative expression is at my will; it’s something I can share with the entire world. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ve found that something you can share with the world. If not, get out there already and find it!

As nurses, we all need that escape, a creative outlet, something with which we have no limits.

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