Why I Work Here: Brian Reynolds, biomedical photographer

August 30, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Brian Reynolds joined Michigan Medicine in 2013.

Michigan Medicine is a world-class destination for patient care, education and research, thanks to its exceptional faculty and staff. Headlines wanted to hear firsthand why employees chose Michigan Medicine to make their contributions to health care.

Employees like Brian Reynolds, a biomedical photographer in the Surgical Specialty Clinic II, which includes the Craniofacial Anomalies Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Reynolds has been with the organization since 2013.

“As a photographer, I never expected to be able to work in health care, let alone become an important member of the patient care team,” said Reynolds, who previously spent 25 years in the newspaper industry as a photographer and photo editor. “But thanks to our team of surgeons and clinic manager who believed in me, I couldn’t be in a better spot than I am today.”

A picture-perfect role

Each day, Reynolds takes photographs of patients who have craniofacial anomalies, such as a cleft lip and craniosynostosis. The photos are taken at the request of each patient’s plastic surgeon or oral surgeon, who often refer to them as they carry out their work.

For instance, Reynolds’ photos are mounted on the walls of the operating room during a surgery — serving as a key reference point for doctors. They are also used for pre-op and post-op comparisons.

“My goal is to create consistent, high-quality images,” Reynolds said. “Because I know that the photos are important for surgical planning and continued treatment for many of our patients.”

It’s a detail-oriented and highly-scientific process that involves taking hundreds of photos from identical angles and in identical lighting.

“I have a studio set up in the clinic, where I see as many as 20 patients a day,” Reynolds said.

He then edits the images and enters them into a protected database, where they can be accessed by clinicians.

“It feels incredible to know that the work I do is helping our clinicians carry out world-class care,” Reynolds said.

A patient poses during Glamour Day 2018.

Photo friendly

It’s not just the work itself that Reynolds finds rewarding; it’s the relationships he forms on a daily basis at Michigan Medicine.

“We have an incredible team here,” Reynolds said. “Medical assistants, nurses, residents, surgeons, support staff members — they are all so friendly and make my day more complete.”

Reynolds and others in the program also work hard to form relationships with patients and their families. And while much of that takes place in the clinic, there are outside initiatives that strengthen such bonds as well.

“Every year, we do fun and exciting things for our patients,” Reynolds said. “For example, we hold an annual ‘Glamour Day’ for many of our patients at the Douglas J. Aveda Institute, where Aveda students and staff volunteer to provide hair styling, makeup, manicures and pedicures before myself and other talented photographers take ‘professional’ glamour photos. Our patients love it — and I love being able to see the smile on their face the entire time.”

The team also hosts an annual picnic in September to recognize Craniofacial Acceptance Month and takes patients on an outing to a U-M baseball game every year.

“This is just a very caring environment where everyone is passionate about their work,” Reynolds said.

In the end, Reynolds said that when you see a patient year-after-year, you grow close with them and share in their successes. That’s what makes his second career so gratifying.

“I get to do something that improves people’s lives,” Reynolds said. “That makes me look forward to getting up and coming to work every day.”

Why do you work at Michigan Medicine? Email your story to headlines@med.umich.edu. It could be featured in an upcoming issue of Headlines!