A medical photographer takes images which pertain to the medical field. He or she can work for a hospital, research facility, emergency response organization, medical publishing company, or clinic, taking photographs in a wide variety of settings from the field to the microscope stage. Medical photographers usually have college training in photography, which can include a photojournalism or arts degree, along with some experience in the sciences which allows them to understand the subjects they photograph.
In a hospital, a medical photographer may take photographs of patients which are used to track progress, document subjects in a study, or kept on file in the event of legal issues. These images can include photographs of original wounds, progressing conditions like rashes, and surgical procedures. Medical photographers can also work in the pathology lab, photographing autopsies, specimen samples from patients, and specimens on the microscope.
Medical labs use medical photographers to document their procedures, and to create records of various procedures, such as photographs of electrophoresis gels or images of bacteria which have been successfully cultured from a patient. These images can become part of a permanent record on a patient or study, and they can also be disseminated in trade journals and publications which are designed to allow medical professionals to share information.
Medical photographers can also take pictures which are used in promotional brochures, patient education materials, and textbooks which are used by medical and veterinary schools. These images can range from generic pictures of patients receiving treatment to specific pictures of particular issues, such as documentation of the appearance of different kinds of fungal infections so that practitioners have a visual reference they can use when treating patients.
Also known as biomedical photographers, some medical photographers specialize in taking photographs to create records which are kept for legal purposes. These photographs can be used to document the course of treatment and the conditions under which treatment took place, in case there is a dispute, and patients can also retain photographers to document their conditions so that they can use the images in a legal case. For example, a patient who plans to sue a surgeon for placing a bone pin in the wrong place might hire a medical photographer to document the damage caused by the improper placement, and the surgery required to correct it.
The pay available to a medical photographer varies, depending on where he or she works, and any specialties the photographer may have. A medical photographer can obtain better pay by keeping up with advances in photography and in the sciences.