“Still” Photography (Part 1 of 2) by Jason Gotlib, MD, MS

Jason Gotlib, MD, MS
Professor of Medicine (Hematology) at the Stanford Cancer Institute

I sometimes wonder whether my interest in photography originated as a passive exposure to my father’s relentless chronicling of our lives on the Kodachrome slides that now fill dozens of trays lining the shelves of his bedroom closet. Over the last decade, he’s managed to scan the majority of slides, and from time to time my parents will send a trickle of these decades-old digitized reminiscences to my sister and me.

Invariably, these archival JPEGs segue to conversations about simpler times, family and friends whom we cherished and who have since passed, and my parents’ understandable desire that we take a break from our harried lives to spend more quality time together.

While my career as a hematologist has offered me the opportunity for lifelong learning and the unique privilege of caring for often desperately ill patients, past months and years have become a blurry turnstile of evanescent relationships — patients with hematolymphoid neoplasms who have fought the good fight and passed away, and trainees and colleagues who have entrusted our friendship, mentorship, and collegiality, then transitioned to a life away from my home institution at Stanford. This is not unexpected, of course, but it’s also not particularly palatable.

And this brings me back to photography. I enjoy it for some of the conventional reasons one would expect, including my need to indulge my creative side and subdue cognitive tendencies related to the oft-rote and algorithmic practice of medicine.