What is Clinical Photography

Clinical photography is an obscure yet unique form of photography. Its purpose is to regularly record and record the presentation of clinical (medical) conditions found in patients. It is used to diagnose and track illness at different stages of treatment. It is also often referred to as medical photography.

Clinical photography is often more challenging than creative photography, but it is also extremely rewarding because it requires working closely with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who care about people’s health. Clinical photographers offer services that can combine photography, graphic design, and even fine art.

What is medical photography used for?

Clinical photography plays a vital role in helping doctors and healthcare professionals diagnose, treat patients, and find solutions to medical problems. They become part of the medical record and have both a medical and a legal purpose. In addition to being used for diagnostic and treatment planning purposes, clinical images also serve as teaching aids for teaching and preparing publications.

It is very important that clinical images are taken professionally and with a high degree of accuracy. Failure to do so could lead to misinformation about the medical outcome, causing doctors or their patients to follow practices or guidelines based on false assumptions.

Due to the high standards of clinical photography, not everyone can try their hand at this genre. Photographers usually need to have specialized training or have some experience in medical-related fields.

How to become a clinical photographer

Let’s say you have a desire to try your hand at clinical photography. Unfortunately, unlike other genres such as macro or portrait photography, you can’t just experiment until you really understand all the intricacies and tricks.

Since you will be dealing with patients and doctors in life and death situations, you need to reach a certain skill level before any reputable hospital or organization will hire you.

Skills a clinical photographer is sure to need

  • Basic understanding and knowledge of human anatomy.
  • A caring and responsive attitude towards sick or injured patients.
  • Ability to work well in a team.
  • Education in photography and further training in clinical photography.
  • Technical knowledge in the field of photography related to anatomy.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Resistance to stress at work and the ability to take responsibility for oneself.

As you can see, being a clinical photographer is not something anyone who just knows how to photograph well can count on.

But if you enjoy working with patients and doctors, if you have a high level of technical background and want to be part of a team that helps people, then clinical photography may be the right field for you.

What a clinical photographer’s working day might look like

Typically, you will be located outside or inside the clinic and you will need to work with many different health professionals, including doctors, nurses, researchers. If you have to work, for example, in the department of medical illustration, you can do other things, such as the development and placement of educational materials and annual reports, as well as (if you have graphic design skills) the creation of artwork for scientific publications.

Equipment requirements

To become a successful clinical photographer, you need the right equipment. A prerequisite is the presence of any good camera of well-known brands, because you need to take clear high-quality images, and you don’t have to save money. You will also need a very good lens, manual and automatic settings for more flexibility, an off-camera flash, flash diffusers, a macro light box, a ring flash may be needed and much more.

How to photograph patients

Of course, photographing patients must be delicate, as some of them are seriously ill or injured. However, there is a protocol that you will need to follow.

Patients should be without makeup or jewelry to avoid distractions in pictures. Long hair is pulled back so that the face is clearly visible. In terms of posture of the human body, the straighter the better. Patients are advised to place their feet shoulder-width apart, relax the shoulders and neck, look directly into the lens, and relax the facial muscles so that they do not express emotions.

The simpler patients appear in photographic images, the better, as clinical photography tends to show pathology and distractions can give the wrong impression.


Clinical photography is extremely unique and stands apart from other genres of photography because it is not really about art or even about growing as a photographer trying new things. This is a very important technical aspect of photography that can be useful to the medical community and patients dealing with illness and injury.

If this type of photography interests you and you want to pursue a reputable profession, then clinical photography can be a way for you to build your career.

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