Brian Smith, MPA − Photographer
Providence Health Care (PHC) has a secret that not many people know about. For over
thirty-two years, the basement of St. Paul’s Hospital has been the workplace of one of Canada’s longest-serving and most talented in-hospital photographers.
Meet Brian Smith − photographer, world traveler and humanitarian.
Brian’s nine-to-five work allows him to capture the essence of public health care as a medical/corporate photographer for PHC, Vancouver Coastal Health and the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation. He is responsible for documenting medical and scientific procedures, studio portraits, publications, public relations, high definition video camera work and video conferencing.
When Brian Smith first started at St. Paul’s Hospital 32 years ago, his work was entirely focused on medical photography. His photographs would be used by medical staff in scientific publications, textbooks, pamphlets, instructional films and exhibits. He photographed specimens for operating room staff who would require visuals for legal reasons, or to document rarities. Roughly half of his work was for radiology and ophthalmology.
This all changed at the turn of the millennium when the world started going digital. Surgeons were getting their own digital cameras and departments such as radiology and ophthalmology brought the work in-house. Everyone was moving to digital equipment at a rapid rate and Brian realized that he either needed to embrace this change or be left behind without a job.
“I was really scared,” says Brian. “Not only did I not know anything about digital cameras, but I knew nothing about computers. I didn’t even have an email address!”
So Brian bought his first digital camera in 2001 and got to work.
“I spent a good year taking courses and learning everything I could about digital cameras, Photoshop, PC and Mac computers,” explains Brian. “I have continued that education for the last 13 years.”
Since then, Brian’s work has been in the digital realm.
Brian has been a member of the Professional Photographers of Canada and the Professional Photographers of Canada-BC since 2001. He achived his Craftsman of Photographic Arts (CPA) in 2012 with an accreditation in travel illustration. Brian's awards include the 2008 Nikon Award of Excellence (PPOC-BC) and Best Portrait of a Man 2010(PPOC-BC). Brian got his Masters in Photographic Arts in 2014, with accreditation in two more categories.
What has kept you working at Providence this long?
Every day when I come to work I’m faced with a level of uncertainty that I love. I never quite know what challenges await me or even what I’ll be spending the day doing. I wouldn’t change these working conditions for the world.
I also love the camaraderie that exists between staff, physicians and leaders across the organization. I think it is really amazing to spend your days in a place where you’re with your friends all day. This makes it incredibly enjoyable to come to work.
When I first started, the Sisters were still working here. I credit them for creating this family feeling that has been preserved to this day. After all these years, it’s still an amazing place to work.
What interests you outside of work?
I have multiple projects and passions outside of work. I have operated my own professional photography business since 1992, specializing in travel, humanitarian, portrait, event and fine art photography.
I have travelled and photographed more than 41 countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, Vietnam and, more recently, China on multiple occasions. This has provided me with material to host 26 fine art gallery shows of my photography. My most recent shows regularly take place at Sun’s Coffee Gallery at 1207 Hamilton Street in Yaletown.
I am also an Association Member and active volunteer with Médecins Sans Frontières(Doctors Without Borders).
If there were a film of your life, what actor would play you?
Kevin Bacon. I’ve been told I look and act like him.
If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?
How would you like to be remembered?
As passionate and spiritual.
What song would you want played at your funeral?
Child of the Wind by Bruce Cockburn because it describes me so completely.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I would go back to the 1930s and show up in Yosemite Park to be Ansel Adams’ assistant.
Where can we see your work?
Facebook: Brian Keith Smith & Brian K Smith Photography & Art Work
Brian offers discounts to Providence Health Care staff on his commercial photography.
A groundbreaking service for people with mental-health and substance-use challenges opens this year at St. Paul’s Hospital that will unite emergency care, rapid access to treatment and a transition centre to provide better and faster care for this vulnerable client population.…
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