Doctor's photos help with healing
With his photography of nature on display throughout Legacy Health, Duncan R. Neilson Jr., M.D., says he wants to help “create healing environments” in our hospitals and clinics.
“I feel we have a deep-seated connection to the natural world,” explains Dr. Neilson, a longtime Legacy OB/GYN doctor who is now a clinical vice president. “But in modern times, we have separated from that world. My thought is that awakening those connections provides a respite for our patients and staff.
“There is science behind the healing power of nature, including photographs of nature,” he says. “Regardless, I would take these pictures anyway –– I just really enjoy it.”
Influenced in medicine and photography
Dr. Neilson, now 74, was influenced in medicine and photography by his father, Duncan Neilson, M.D., and his uncle, Ronald Neilson, M.D., identical twins and both OB/GYN doctors at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. “Being twins in their OB practice had benefits,” he says with a laugh. “They could see each other’s patients and no one could ever tell the difference.” (See a photo of the twins third in the series above.)
His uncle was an accomplished photographer who taught his nephew about photographing and printing pictures. As a young man, Duncan Neilson created darkrooms out of bathrooms so that he could pursue photography.
Hiking for photography
Dr. Neilson began his own OB/GYN practice in 1974, delivering hundreds of babies at Legacy Emanuel and other hospitals in his more than 30 years of practice before becoming clinical vice president of Legacy Medical Group Specialties and chief of Legacy Women’s Services.
His photography flourished through his friendship with Leonard Conkling, a noted professional nature photographer in Portland. The two spent years hiking and photographing the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. “With the gear we used in those early days, our packs weighed 50 pounds,” he recalls. “But we still hiked the Cascades, the Coast Range, Nepal … all over.”
Dr. Neilson produced dozens of photos of nature, landscapes and birds, which caught the attention of Legacy leaders, who placed the pictures in Legacy clinics and hospitals.
“Displaying nature photography goes along with Legacy’s approach to create healing environments,” he says. “It helps me. Working on these photographs creates a sense of calm and focus for myself.”
See more of Dr. Neilson’s photography on his website.
Media inquiries: Brian Terrett, 503-415-5775