Quantcast

Capturing a Moment, Part 2 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Capturing a Moment, Part 2

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

It's a typical day at the office for Rajan Chawla. He heads into surgery at Fletcher Allen Health Care at least once a month.

Reporter Gina Bullard: How do you feel? You're about to go into heart surgery.

Rajan Chawla: I'm excited. It's fun.

Only Chawla is not a surgeon. He actually has no medical training. His only instrument is a camera. He's the medical photographer for the University of Vermont's College of Medicine.

This day, he's capturing medical students learning from Surgeon Bruce Levitt. The open-heart surgery will last about five hours.

Chawla's photos are used for marketing and publications for the school and Fletcher Allen. The images also serve as a snapshot of medicine now-- a historical record the college will keep.

It's not always surgery; Chawla follows residents around as they visit patients, capturing the everyday.

"If I'm in there trying to document medical students learning I don't get that nervous. If a surgeon asks for something specific to be photographed that raises the bar a bit," Chawla said.

There are many challenges to shooting in the OR. It's small, packed with people all dressed alike and the doctors can't slow down to make sure Chawla gets his shot. He has to move fast-- like everyone around him.

"Just waiting for expression; even though you can barely see anybody, you can still see their eyes," Chawla said.

Chawla focuses on getting the picture but also has to be aware he can sometimes be in a life or death situation. He has to steer clear of any blue areas-- blue is sterile. A falling strap or lens could cause contamination and put the patient at risk.

"I'm trying to get a nicely composed photo right there and stay out of the way and paying attention to what step they're on," Chawla explained.

Although the environment is controlled and covered up it can still be stomach-turning for some-- not Chawla.

"You don't see much. There's a lot of activity. If you don't see the patient go in, out, you'd hardly know there was anybody in there," Chawla said.

Chawla has a degree in photojournalism from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He worked as a news photographer for over 20 years at the Burlington Free Press. Like the spontaneity of news, Chawla needs to be prepared for anything in the operating room. He made the switch to medical photography seven years ago.

Gina Bullard: Is it hard to make a picture creative when you're in this setting?

Rajan Chawla: If you look at it as overall it's overwhelming, but if you focus in...

Chawla has to gauge the mood; backing off during tense moments, sometimes leaving the operating room. He has earned the surgeon's trust. So when all is going well the doctor takes time to tell Chawla when good moments are coming up, like when med students get to put stitches in a heart for the first time; inviting him-- and us-- up for a closer look.

"Who gets to see this?! I mean, this is amazing," Chawla said.

Gina Bullard: So it seems like you're still in awe?

Rajan Chawla: Yeah, it's not all that normal to get that kind of explanation and view.

A photographer capturing incredible medical moments.

For more on Rajan Chawla's medical photography:

http://med.uvm.edu/medphoto

www.rajchawla.com

www.facebook.com/MedicalPhotography

www.facebook.com/rajanchawlaphotography

Related Story:

Capturing a Moment, Part 1

Capturing a Moment, Part 3

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Sen. Jim Jeffords laid to rest

    Sen. Jim Jeffords laid to rest

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:12 PM EDT2014-08-23 00:12:17 GMT
    Sen. Jim Jeffords was one of Vermont's beloved public servants, with a career that took him from the hills of Shrewsbury to the U.S. Senate. Friday, in his hometown of Rutland, James Jeffords was laid to rest.
    Sen. Jim Jeffords was one of Vermont's beloved public servants, with a career that took him from the hills of Shrewsbury to the U.S. Senate. Friday, in his hometown of Rutland, James Jeffords was laid to rest.
  • Is it safe to move accused killer Elizabeth Teague?

    Is it safe to move accused killer Elizabeth Teague?

    Friday, August 22 2014 7:09 PM EDT2014-08-22 23:09:17 GMT
    The Vt. Dept. of Mental Health says scarce resources are part of the push to relocate alleged workplace shooter Elizabeth Teague to a facility with fewer regulations. Elizabeth Keatinge was at Friday's hearing.
    The Vt. Dept. of Mental Health says scarce resources are part of the push to relocate alleged workplace shooter Elizabeth Teague to a facility with fewer regulations. Elizabeth Keatinge was at Friday's hearing.
  • Police investigate death of 13-year-old in Hardwick

    Police investigate death of 13-year-old in Hardwick

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:10 PM EDT2014-08-23 00:10:40 GMT
    Investigators say a teen was found dead at a home in Hardwick Friday morning.
    Investigators say a teen was found dead at a home in Hardwick Friday morning.
  • Vt. police say all clear in Newport

    Vt. police say all clear in Newport

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:12 AM EDT2014-08-22 15:12:45 GMT
    Police say the threat is over in Newport. Thursday night, police had asked residents to lock their doors and stay inside while authorities searched for a gunman.
    Police say the threat is over in Newport. Thursday night, police had asked residents to lock their doors and stay inside while authorities searched for a gunman.
  • NY police try to ID pharmacy burglar

    NY police try to ID pharmacy burglar

    Friday, August 22 2014 3:39 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:39:59 GMT
    New York State Police hope the public can help identify a burglar.
    New York State Police hope the public can help identify a burglar.
  • Williston police try to ID paint thief

    Williston police try to ID paint thief

    Friday, August 22 2014 4:11 PM EDT2014-08-22 20:11:41 GMT
    Police are investigating an unusual theft at the Wal-Mart in Williston.
    Police are investigating an unusual theft at the Wal-Mart in Williston.
  • Driver of overweight big rig nabbed in Vermont

    Driver of overweight big rig nabbed in Vermont

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:20 PM EDT2014-08-23 00:20:31 GMT
    The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles says a trucker carrying part of a giant crane to a state bridge job had too much weight on his rig and too much alcohol in his system.
    The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles says a trucker carrying part of a giant crane to a state bridge job had too much weight on his rig and too much alcohol in his system.
  • Wire fraud convict has until Friday to object

    Wire fraud convict has until Friday to object

    Friday, August 22 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-08-22 14:29:05 GMT
    A Vermont man convicted of wire fraud for submitting false invoices to a Maine town has reached the end of his allotted time to file objections to a pre-sentencing reporting.
    A Vermont man convicted of wire fraud for submitting false invoices to a Maine town has reached the end of his allotted time to file objections to a pre-sentencing reporting.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.