A love of medicine and art

Local physician has a passion for photography

If you go

Dr. Mehrdad Shojaei is the March featured artist at the Camas Gallery. The gallery is located at 408 N.E. Fourth Ave. and is open from 11 to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

To view more of his artwork, visit www.medicineandart.com.

A curious coyote peers at Sojaei during a visit to the Ridgefield refuge in the spring.

Shojaei captured this image of a camouflaged owlet in the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge.

Shojaei enjoys getting into nature and taking photos of whatever catches his eye. Here, it is a mallard duck.

Mehrdad Shojaei currently uses Nikon D7000 and D800 cameras, but notes that is it not so much the camera but the photographer behind it. "It's your eyes, your passion and what you see," he said. (Photos courtesy of Mehrdad Shojaei)

Trumpeter swans cruise around at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

A red-tailed hawk enjoys the sun after finishing a meal.

A baby tree swallow waits for its mother to bring food.

As an internist at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital, Dr. Mehrdad Shojaei must make quick decisions in a fast-paced environment.

So, when the opportunity arises, the Camas resident enjoys immersing himself in nature photography.

“When I am at the hospital it can be very stressful,” he said. “When I leave and get out into nature, the silence is very peaceful. I like to photograph everything. Whatever I see that is interesting, I want to take a picture.”

Wildlife photography is a favorite, and Shojaei finds peace and tranquility in the natural world.

Shojaei is the featured artist this month at the Camas Gallery. He became friends with gallery co-owner Marquita Call after visiting the gallery on a First Friday.

He approached her about displaying one of his photos, a backyard in Guatemala, that he’d taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera. It sold quickly, and Shojaei began featuring more of his work at the gallery. This will be his second show there.

Shojaei began his photography journey in 2010, but yearned to do it for years. However, growing up in Iran with a father who was an engineer and a mother who was a teacher, the focus was on education.

“It (photography) has become an exhilarating experience to complete what was missing from my life,” he said. “Every moment there are great stories. It’s all a matter of being in the right place at the right time, with good lighting.”

One of Shojaei’s favorite photography locations is the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, although he also enjoys traveling to different spots around the world.

“You are able to drive there instead of just walk, which allows you to get to the subject,” he said. “Cars don’t scare the birds away and you can approach them easier.”

He continued, “There are photography tours that take you to all kinds of exotic locations, but beauty is everywhere. You don’t need to travel far.”

Shojaei currently uses a Nikon D7000 and D800 with a Nikkor 600 millimeter lens, but notes that is it is not so much the camera one owns, but the photographer behind it.

“It’s your eyes, your passion and what you see,” he said. “Start shooting and practicing, and learn from your mistakes. If you do more, you get better. It just takes persistence.”

He is self-taught, having learned the craft through online videos, books, Google and trial-and-error.

During the past few years, Shojaei has donated his photos to various medical causes. The first was in 2013, for a boy who needed a lung transplant. The young patient survived and is doing well now.

After this experience, he created a website devoted to donating his photography to help patients in need of medical care.

“That’s when I realized that even though I was a doctor, I could also use my art to help heal people,” Shojaei said.