Donald Vish: A Conviction For Healing

| October 18, 2012
Don Vish.

Don Vish.

An accomplished attorney, Donald Vish is capturing the heart of Louisville through another profession much different from his day job.

Though busy teaching at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law in addition to his practice and philanthropy work, Vish will spend the next year photographing nature as part of a project which will furnish Norton Women’s Hospital and Kosair Children’s Hospital – St. Matthews. Research demonstrates gardens or images with trees, water and greenery keep medical patients at ease and can even lessen the need for pain medication.

On July 1, Vish began snapping photos of nature in 37 parks and neighborhoods in the city, including Beckley Creek Park, Chickasaw Park and Joe Creason Park. “These are places that are maintained by the Louisville Metro Department of Parks, open and available to the public without charge. We want people to know there’s nothing isolated about these places.”

Three-and-half months into the project, the finished product will feature 100 photos hanging in the hallways, nursing stations and patient rooms of the hospital. The Voice-Tribune caught up with Vish to learn more about his passion behind the lens and what inspired him to become involved with healing through photography.

–Ashley Anderson, Staff Writer

How did the project with Norton Women’s Hospital and Kosair Children’s Hospital – St. Matthews come about?
Lynnie Meyer, who runs the Norton Hospital Foundation, was aware of my work in philanthropy because we both work in foundations. She was aware of my work in photography and its use in philanthropy, and she was aware of my interest in photography to do more than simply copy that which nature has provided. I think she thought this would be a good project to team up with me on. She asked me for my thoughts about it and I said let’s look for pictures that help people in the capacity to heal; tie our neighborhoods together actually and metaphorically.

Do you have a professional background in photography?
Yes, I do. I was, for example, the official photographer for Mayor Fischer’s inauguration. I have a permanent exhibit of photography at the law firm at Middleton Reutlinger and I have a history of photography for social causes. For six years, I worked with the children with St. George’s Community Center in the inner city teaching them photography as a life skill as much as an artistic skill. … Photography is my passion. Even though I have been paid for my photography, I am an amateur in spirit, which means I do it out of love and passion.

Where have you taken photos for the hospital’s photography project?
So far I have been in 37 parks. I’m looking for pictures with nature that heal; pictures that soothe. … I like to say that I’m not really making pictures, I’m making windows. … Looking for beauty. Looking for universal images. … No doubt, from time to time, the viewer of these pictures will recognize a particular place, but with the exception of a few bridges, there are no handmade or human-made improvements in my picture. We prefer the color green. We like to show lots of light.

How did you choose which elements to focus on in each photo?
I have studied the scientific reports regarding the healing attributes of gardens in hospitals and also a report … on how pictures of gardens have helped people convalesce. Those studies have helped me learn certain things about pictures that appeal to people in a hospital and my photographer’s eye is attuned to those things: light and sky and green and open spaces. Joyous colors.

Why did you become interested in studying the medical benefits of hospital gardens and photos of nature?
I recognized the ability of photography to have an impact in social causes. For example, a couple pictures I took for C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocates) won some awards because they had the ability to move people to action. I’ve always been interested in the ability of art and photography to actually have an impact on people.

A gas sublimation printing process will be used with the photos. Why is that?
First of all, the pictures will be made on metal and the pictures will be infused into the pores of the metal. The process by which they are transferred and infused into the metal is called gas sublimation and this process is able to read and reproduce the photograph with a wider color gamut and more sharpness and more luminescence than other printing techniques. I have said that it makes fine art finer.

How would you describe the feeling nature gives you?
Joyous – in one word. Absolutely joyous. I am mesmerized; I am enraptured by the magnificence of nature. One person who went out on a shoot with me one time said it is amazing every time I put the camera at my eye, and as long as the camera’s at my eye, I’m smiling.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Kim Kessler says:

    Don, so inspiring. Thank you for your contribution to help people heal. As a nurse I really appreciate that along with the fact that its just so nice to look at beautiful pictures.

  2. Suzanne Hurst says:

    Don, you are a true artist, and your work is both exquisite and inspirational. Your love for photography and for nature shines through every picture! Your work will give others pleasure for years to come.

  3. Kitty Yount says:

    This is a wonderful article about a wonderful hobby ( job ) for a person to have. And the photos people will be able to look at during times of pain, sorrow and happiness in the hospital sitting.
    Love this!

  4. Dale Vish says:

    Great article, good luck with it.
    Dale