Local photographer focuses on the heart

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Charles Porter views the world through two lenses.

He is a well-known photographer, with regular exhibits; known for his landscapes and people pictures in Kansas City and around the globe.

And when he is not taking pictures of daily life, he is saving lives as a cardiologist at the University of Kansas Hospital. He always knew he wanted to be a heart specialist.

"My friends from medical school told me that they could tell when I was going through anatomy. My eyes just got bigger when we were on the heart," Porter remembers. "They said ‘He's going to be a cardiologist.' So it just clicked."

The click of his camera also started in medical school.

"I got on the yearbook staff and started with photography there and when I actually had a pretty open social calendar," he said. "So I spent several Friday and Saturday nights in the dark room working on photography."

For Porter, medicine and photography have certain parallels.

"I like to handle unusual cases where things aren't clear cut," he said. "I think sometimes with photography you're trying to find a different angle and find something interesting that inset obvious to everybody."

Porter also combines his medical and photography skills on Medical Missions Foundation trips to developing countries. He evaluates patients for surgery, and then documents the surgeon's work for the donors back home.

These kids who you know have cleft palates or huge tonsils and their lives are headed in a very bad direction," Porter said. "And after a few hours of surgery, their lives are turned around for 40, 50, 70 years.  It's really a huge change in people's lives and its fun just to go and watch."

Dr. Porter says you don't need to travel the world to get good shots. He is a firm believer in the beauty of Kansas City. 

Porter can often be found taking pictures at The Liberty Memorial, 18th and Vine and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

Porter will donate a photograph to the Art for the Children, a benefit for Medical Missions Foundation to be held Feb. 9, 2013.  For more information visit   www.mmfworld.org . To see more of Porter's work, visit www.charlesporterphotography.com .

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