Celebrating Allied Health: Clinical Photography
When the first photograph was produced in 1826 by French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, those working in science and medicine quickly realised the potential of photography to document and monitor the body, educate, and aid patient care.
Clinical photography at The Children’s Hospital was outsourced from 1870 until 1934, when the first official photographer joined the hospital. A makeshift studio with a changing room was set up to document patient progress. Meanwhile, at The Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital in Mt Eliza, pre and post admission photographs of each patient were taken outside.
In 1948, Cyril Murphy established a Clinical Photography Department that was separate from Radiology. Murphy would lead the department for over 15 years. Jozef Szczepanksi, another notable hospital photographer based at The Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital in Mt Eliza, not only documented clinical conditions for 20 years, but took beautiful and candid images of daily life at the hospital. You can view his work here. Photographers worked with analogue technology for 139 years before transitioning to digital.
The Clinical Photography team at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) is comprised of highly skilled medical photographers (all possessing Bachelor of Applied Science [Photography] degrees), who understand the requirements and sensitivities of working within a healthcare environment. Clinical Photography now sits under the Communications Department.
The team provide services in three main disciplines, 2D clinical photography, 3D imaging, and general photography for the RCH. The photographers service approximately 5,000 clinical sessions of patients per year, as well as countless general photography requests. They provide high quality clinical images that are used for patient monitoring and medical records, as well as for teaching, research, publication and medico-legal purposes. The team also provide an after-hours on call service for ‘Child at Risk’ patients.
In addition to the general photography studio, the team use a purpose built 3D Imaging studio that uses a 3D system (using 21 cameras) and photographic techniques to create 3D representations of patient conditions. The images are used by various departments for monitoring and comparing specific clinical conditions.
The department is also involved with a number of research projects using this 3D technology to achieve better outcomes and efficiencies for both clinicians and patients.
With thanks to Bert Di Paolo, Senior Clinical Photographer at the RCH. Contemporary images courtesy of Bert Di Paolo and his team.