March 24, 2010 § 3 Comments

A lot of people think I’m in the business of radiography (photo credit). I tell them I work as a photographer at a hospital and they only hear “grapher” and “hospital”. “So, you’re taking x-rays and stuff?”. No.

Medical photography is a very small speciality and most people don’t know we exist. Say the words “take some pictures” to a patient and she might get the wrong idea. Not everyone takes this long to realize, though.

The request was phoned in from ear, nose and throat (ENT) for some post-op shots of a free flap on the patient’s neck. When she showed up she looked tired and a bit nervous. The request card said cancer. I was prepared to do this quickly as she probably had more appointments coming up in her hospital visit.

I let her in to the studio. “Should I remove any jewelry?” she asked as I offered to take her jacket. There were no ear rings or necklace to obscure the flap so I told her that wasn’t necessary. “But what about my watch?”.  “No, keep it on,” I said, a little puzzled. “Should I take out my hair pins?” “No, keep ’em just like that, so the hair’s away from your neck”. She had a sleeveless shirt on so there was no need to take off any more clothes to expose the flap.

Not your average X-ray lab.

The patient sat down in the studio chair, in front of two strobes with large umbrella reflectors. Then the weirdness peaked. “You can take photos through my clothes, right?” I thought she was joking so I said “No, but you can keep your sleeveless on. I only need to see your neck.” “The neck? I thought you were going to examine my lungs!”

I stood dumbfounded for a few seconds and then I got it. Even after being placed in a chair in front of a guy with a camera, she still thought she had an x-ray appointment. When I told her I was taking regular, everyday photos, she relaxed and after a few shots she even smiled and said: “In the middle of all this misery, I sure didn’t expect to be posing as model”.

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