Special to the Mirror
Special Victims Unit producer Neal Baer brings two different worlds together: medicine and the media. He draws on medical stories that have moved him, angered him, or alarmed him and fashion them into stories for SVU. For example, he’s worried about the 40% of Los Angeles County children (28% in California) who are obese so he’s taken the issue, drawn on patients he’s treated and made a show for SVU that focuses on this problem.
SVU often presents shows with medical storylines. Just this year, SVU has aired episodes about violence as an infectious disease (based on a recent study in Science showing that children exposed to actual gunfire are two to three times more likely to commit a violent crime themselves in the next two years); genetically engineering designer babies; withdrawing life support; adolescents who stop taking medication for psychiatric disorders; teen access to abortion.
Neal is inspired by patients’ stories and uses them as a means for promoting social change by telling them on television. But that’s not enough for him. He is always looking for other avenues to tell stories. One is through photography. He met former AP photographer Jim Hubbard several years ago and immediately wanted to do a project with him.
They raised money and went to Cape Town and there Jim taught women with HIV how to document their lives—how to visually tell their own stories—through photography. They gave each participant a camera, and after she was trained in the basics of photography, she took photographs of her life. The photos are a compelling documentation of the struggles millions of HIV+ women in Africa face every day. They can be seen in their first public showing at the Venice Family Clinic’s Venice Art Walk & Auctions May 21.
Neal Baer, MD, did his residency at Venice Family Clinic and sits on the Board of Directors.
Jim Hubbard is a two-time Pulitzer nominated photographer and the creative director for Venice Arts—a non-profit that introduces the arts to poor children. He created the famous “shooting back” concept where homeless children in D.C. were given cameras and took pictures of their own lives rather than be photographed by someone else.