Steve Goodwin remembers his first camera and the unusual price he paid to get it.
“I got a Nikon FG for my birthday back in 1982,” Goodwin recalls. “My mom bought it for me. She sold my old trombone so she could buy it.”
But after a quarter-century of photography, all the adjunct professor of botany and plant pathology had to show for it was a couple of shoeboxes full of negatives and prints, squirreled away in his closet.
That was until Clarian Health Services announced Photos for Health, an initiative to enlist photographers to help decorate the company’s new medical facilities in Lafayette and Indianapolis.
Last year, amateur photographers were invited to submit original digital photographs derived from nature to be considered for display at IU Simon Cancer Center and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and the Clarian Arnett Hospital in Lafayette.
The photography collection at the new hospital in Lafayette consists of more than 900 framed prints by 160 photographers. The photographs are displayed throughout the public and private spaces of the hospital.
“I think I even have a couple of photos in some of the bathrooms,” says Goodwin, “which is a little strange.”
The interior design concept for Clarian Health Services centers on the symbolic and medicinal meaning of trees. Subject matter of the photographs ranges from close-up images of flowering trees, leaves and plant life to panoramic images of lush forests, mountains scenes and water environments.
“If one patient feels their spirits lifted, we will have done our job, and if one hard-working health care professional finds themselves inspired, we will feel all the more rewarded,” says Jacqueline Buckingham Anderson. Her design company developed the photography project for Clarian.
The contest gave Goodwin reason to go back through the shoeboxes, searching for photos to enter in any of the three categories: animals and ecosystems, trees and nature.
“It was a lot of fun,” Goodwin says of the contest. “I’ve been shooting photos for over 20 years, but I’ve never really done anything with them until this contest.”
He just didn’t think his photos measured up: “I thought all of my photos were spectacular when I shot them, but over the years, as I looked at them, most didn’t look as spectacular as I remembered them.”
Goodwin’s work certainly impressed the Clarian people. Of the 600 prints on display at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, 30 are Goodwin’s. Of the 900 on display at Clarian’s Lafayette facility, 50 are Goodwin photographs.
While his research has taken Goodwin to exotic locations all over the world (he recently returned from a trip to Russia), his vocation of plant pathology keeps cutting into his avocation of photography.
“I never seem to have as much time as I would like to work on my photography,” Goodwin says.
His portfolio includes some beautiful photos from Death Valley, Calif., made during his visits to the desert as a PhD student at the University of California-Davis in the early 1990s.
“Three of us would go on camping trips into Death Valley,” Goodwin recalls. “We would all split up and just shoot photos of whatever interested us. Then we would get our slides developed and get together and look at what each other had shot. One guy used to shoot great close-ups of everything he would see in the desert —rocks, plants, whatever. I used to like to shoot the broad, sweeping panoramas of the desert.”
And the third guy?
“He would put his camera on a tripod, take all of his clothes off and take pictures of himself, just wandering off into the sand dunes. He was, uh, a little different.”
Other photos in Goodwin’s portfolio were shot during a visit with his sister, a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia, in 1995.
“I wanted to travel the world and take all of these great photos before I came to Purdue in 1995,” Goodwin says. “But Micronesia was about as far as I got before I ran out of time and money.”
Many of his prized photos were made in his own backyard.
“There are plenty of interesting subjects around your home,” Goodwin says. “I always keep my eyes open for the right light and the right wind, then I grab my camera and go.”
Contact Goodwin at email@example.com