How Our Real Patient Photos Define Our Practice

A few months ago, we were approached by a talented friend who just happens to be a phenomenal photographer; he loved our “real patient” campaign and offered to create and shoot an ad campaign for the practice. It was a bit overwhelming at first, and I wasn’t sure it was something I could sink my teeth into, but in the end, it was too unique and exciting an opportunity to pass up. After working on the Ad agencies’ sketches with Vincent, the photographer, and approving the campaign, we would be heading out to LA with two patients to shoot in a studio there. The trick, I thought, would be to find patients willing to have their faces in print media throughout our local area. The advertising agency and the photographer seemed to be even more excited about the project than I. They are so sure that the campaign will share our message with creativity, humor and style. In fact, the campaign will likely be heading to the Cannes Lion Festival this summer.

Finding patients was far easier than I thought! Though two were nervous, the first three people we asked agreed to participate in the campaign!

I was on the phone on a Friday afternoon with one of the patients who had agreed to participate in the photo shoot. Deb is turning 64; she is reserved, and had had a revision necklift and a tummy tuck. She wasn’t at all sure that flying out to LA to shoot an ad campaign was something she would be good at. She was worried she wasn’t going to be “enough.” In explaining what her role would be in the shot, I explained that our goal was to share the motto of “look the way you feel.” After she heard the details of the ad agency’s sketch, Deb was quiet. “Do you have any questions or concerns?” I asked. Deb’s response was interesting, “Do they know I’m almost 64? Does the photographer think he’s photographing someone who is flawless, because I’m not.”

I was so glad she’d asked the question. “Deb”, I responded, “they know our mission is to celebrate the beauty in our patients. When we decided to do this project, the agency created a campaign that would underscore situations where even if you’re at the grocery store, you feel like a million bucks. We want to celebrate each individual looking the best he or she can at whatever age they are. We want our patients to know they are special, valued and beautiful – no matter how old they might be.”

I could hear the relief in Deb’s voice as she said, “ then I’d love to do it! It sounds like fun, and I’m so grateful that you think I would be a great fit for this. Thank you!” Of course, I am the grateful one, grateful that our patients are willing to put their best face forward and celebrate themselves, the practice and the art of aging gracefully.

Beauty, as we all know, comes from that essence emanating from an individual who feels she – or he- looks as confident, youthful and attractive as she feels. People who feel confident and happy exude a sense of beauty that plastic surgeons aspire to help them achieve. They have no desire to look like someone else; they simply want to look their very best at whatever age they happen to be.

We wanted to capture the happiness of our patients in a moment in time so that other potential patients would see someone they could relate to, not a photoshopped beauty of an unattainable age with flawless features – a real mom, a mature executive, a grandma, a twenty-something who has been perseverating over a flaw finally erased.

Our patients seemed to enjoy our first photo shoot experience last year, but I wondered how they felt a year out as I began to schedule this year’s shoot. I ran into a patient recently who had participated in the shoot last spring and asked how she felt a year out; her face lit up! “You know,” she said, “my surgery was a year and a half ago. I am so happy, and I could not have asked for a better surgeon or team. Every time someone asks me about my surgery, I tell them how it has changed my life and I send them to the website to see me on it!” Another woman who had participated in that photo shoot said, “I loved it! It was fun and the photographer was great.”

And she would do it again. Nicole agreed to be the model for our photo shoot at the local Ferrari dealership for our Open House– shy, nervous, funny turns sassy. With 7 children at home – including a set of quads! – having fun with the photographer and the cars, she became a natural in front of the camera. She was the face of the practice for our Ferrari Open House, and we are so grateful!

We celebrate the beauty of our patients – not canned, not determined by Hollywood or style magazines, but the real beauty that shines when an individual feels it in her core. I am still amazed that the only posts that receive any reaction are those with real patients, real news, real videos from our Doctor. So the photos and stories that patients are willing to share are truly priceless.

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