Doug Menuez delivers the sensitivity and compassion that healthcare deserves

“I want to continue to explore the topics that speak to our shared fates, including complex and sensitive subjects such as birth and mortality, but also the ones that show us the richness of the in-between.” – Doug Menuez

By Missy Hunter

Doug Menuez believes that to survive human beings must somehow find common connections with one another. Drawn to documenting everyday people and their stories, Doug reminds us of our shared humanity. Our commonalities couldn’t be more evident when seeing Doug’s images in this new PDF compilation of his collective work in healthcare.

Agency: Eleven, Inc.

Founded in 1986, Dignity Health is a not-for-profit organization whose mission, in its own words, is “to create environments that meet each patient’s physical, mental, and spiritual needs. We also believe this healing philosophy promotes the wellbeing of our staff and the places they serve.”

Doug was commissioned to shoot lifestyle imagery that reflected Dignity Health’s compassion and services. He was invited by the creative team to collaborate on the storytelling scenarios, each of which had its own emotional tone, and on how to incorporate simple props or objects that communicated “medical” without the sterile connotations of a hospital environment. The shoots took place in a private home and in a studio using natural light.

Nothing is more important in healthcare imagery than sharing authentic scenarios. Through Doug’s time as a documentary photojournalist, he has learned what it takes to make real images, rather than contrived or manufactured. Doug admits, “I’ve learned about moments that fail to resonate or show a lack of gravitas. Viewers get that those are set up pictures. Authenticity is key.”

Agency: The Bloc

Montefiore Health System’s new branding campaign, “Doing More,” underscores Montefiore’s status as a premier healthcare provider with world-renowned physicians and scientists, while also connecting on a personal level with the very people it serves.

Doug shot lots and lots of studio portraits—as many as 100 in a single day—and various scenarios during four shoots over a four-month period. “They needed really real moments—which is hard enough to get in real life, never mind on a set with 30 people, stylists, lights, assistants, and clients,” notes Doug. “But I did my best to make it feel for each person like it was just me and them. I always try to connect with my subjects to let them know I care about making this work for them.” Doug also shot documentary-style imagery, such as a patient being wheeled from an air ambulance, right there in the studio. “It was an interesting challenge to bring my documentary skills and capture real moments within the white-box gallery theme,” he says. The images were used for MHS’ website, print ads, billboards, and marketing collateral.

Of course, healthcare isn’t just for adults, but kids too. This is where Doug changes his approach to meet the needs of those whose images he is capturing.

Agency: Labyrinth Worldwide

Doug photographed portraits of kids who are working to overcome severe stuttering problems with the help of a nonprofit organization called Our Time, which was being rebranded as SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young.

“Photographing kids is always a tough job,” he notes. “You have to be patient and open to the kid’s frame of mind, and try to connect. Essentially, you are a passenger on their train. In this case, we were talking about young kids but also teens. Which raises a whole host of other issues around self-esteem, identity, and general discomfort with self-image that are just part of the package of growing up. Add in a disability like stuttering, and I knew it might be tough to deliver the portraits I envisioned. I wanted to connect emotionally with the kids and try to show their sense of pride and accomplishment for what they were overcoming. It was an exciting opportunity.”

Doug is all about storytelling that sparks empathy for the people he is covering. Download his healthcare shots in this PDF. For more images that connect cultures and remind us of our shared humanity, visit his Instagram.

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