A SNAP-HAPPY doctor who found a new life in New Zealand is celebrating seeing a selection of his work published.
Dr Chris Reid, who is originally from Whitburn, spent two years taking portrait photographs of patients who came through the door of his GP surgery.
Now the stunning collection of black and white photographs has been compiled in a book, Patient: Portraits From A Doctor’s Surgery.
Dr Reid, 45, moved to Russell in Bay of Islands, New Zealand with his wife, Sara, who hails from Cornwall, 10 years ago.
After serving as a medical officer in the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and the Special Boat Service, he worked as a GP in Wimborne, Dorset, before leaving for New Zealand in search of something different.
Dr Reid, who is father to nine-year-old Finlay, says he got the idea for the book from carrying out home visits.
He said: “I realised that I was in a privileged position and that there was a social story to be told. When I told my patients about my idea, I thought most would say no, so it surprised me when they all said yes.
“I was very careful to emphasise that they were under no pressure and could say no.
“The photos were also done after the consultation had finished. I think I asked about 400 people and only two said no, one of which changed her mind and later agreed.”
Dr Reid now says he has mixed emotions about his work.
He added: “It was a solid two years of photographing. When I first looked at the finished book sent from the publisher, Craig Potton Publishing, I realised the project was complete and now it was time to put my head above the parapet and be judged by the public, which makes me apprehensive.
“I hope people understand what I was trying to achieve and they enjoy looking at the photos. Personally, I see all the aspects I would do differently if I was to do it again, but overall I’m very pleased with it.
“It feels amazing that it’s being published. I will never forget the day Robbie Burton, from Craig Potton Publishing, phoned me only a few days after I had sent them my book proposal, saying the team had not seen anything like this and how powerful and emotional the concept was.”
Dr Reid has chosen to donate all the royalties from the book to the New Zealand ambulance service.
He said: “I spent a long, long time deciding on which charity. My first choice was Alzheimer’s Association in memory of my mum, Winifred, who died of the condition, but the book didn’t suite this.
“I needed a charity that was representative of the whole community. Also the NZ ambulance service is largely made of volunteers and they do such an amazing job. The royalties will go towards further training for those volunteers.”
He added: “I was born in Gateshead but by parents moved to Whitburn when I started med school in Newcastle.
“I do miss the North East, the humour and the warmth of the people, but you can’t go spearfishing from the bottom of your garden there.
“I may come back next year to see the All Blacks win the rugby world cup again.”
•Patient can be bought online at www.fishpond.co.uk for £19.36.