I’d like to say that I am a professional photographer making a great living off the images I create. Maybe someday I will be able to say that but now I can’t. Instead, I can say I am an amateur photographer who has a job to help pay the bills and support my passion for photography. And I can say this knowing that I am not alone. Many photographers have jobs that has little or nothing to do with their pursuit of photography and that is okay. Well it’s okay for me now. But I do think that my other job is a good part of who I am. See I am, by profession, a Phlebotomist, a person who draws blood for a lab. In this case I work for a lab in a hospital and I love what I do. This profession has nothing to do with creating images directly but indirectly it does. This job is a part of who I am, a caring compassionate person who is willing to do what it takes to help you get better.
My job is to collect the blood from the patients in the hospital, in the correct tubes with the proper amount without damaging the blood cells. Now overall it seems like an easy job but let me tell you it is not. There are many things that could go wrong; pull too hard and you can rip blood cells apart and depending on the test, you will have to go and recollect it. Blood bank tubes have to be perfectly hand labeled and if they are not then you must recollect. And for the obvious, no one likes you. You are the person who inflicts a bit of pain each and every time you visit them. So how does all this indirectly contribute to my images?
This job helps me see life in it fragility. Every day I can experience someone’s worst day and another’s best day all in the same 10-hour shift. In the ED I have seen the aftermath of gunshot wounds, stabbings, motor vehicle accidents, one’s own stupidity and much more. I have seen a fair share of people die and the devastation that has on a family. I have also experienced joy of a new member of the family in the birth center. The great warmth of love surrounding the new family member who is now in the arms of parents. I have also seen that love in the ending of one’s life. The family surrounding their parent or sibling who has lived with an illness and it is time to remember, laugh, cry, and let go. I have seen all that and it has left its mark on me changing me and the way I view life and my work.
I can’t say exactly what image best illustrates this, maybe I could say it is my Yucca or Lillie’s series that puts my experience in the art. I just know I am a different person because of this job and that I want to express that in my images or start to. I believe that if people were able to see what I see every day then we would change the way we treat ourselves and people around us. That we would take just that one extra moment to lend a hand to a stranger or do something healthy instead of sitting in front of the TV. Maybe change the thought that “we don’t matter” to others when we see the impact a suicide has on family and friends.
I might not be the most loved person in a health care setting but what I get out of my job is the satisfaction that I make an impact on lives as well as my job impacting me in a positive manner. Not many people can say that.