Guide on how to take a useful photograph to help your doctor diagnose your condition

Although photographing sometimes seems simple, there are a few rules of thumb that will make it much easier for your doctor to be able to make a diagnosis.

Adequate lighting

Please make sure the area is well lit. Not flooded with light, but enough light to make the area (for example, a mole on your arm) clear to see, and stand out from the surrounding skin.

Use a plain background

A light coloured sheet or a light coloured wall is ideal.

Some sort of scale

It is important to be able to tell the size of lesion, so place a tape measure or ruler alongside it. Alternatively, something like a 5p or 10p piece coin alongside will be very helpful.

Indication of location

In some photographs, it can be very difficult to tell what part of the body the photograph is of. Please make this clear, either in the photograph, or in accompanying message. The side of the body (right or left) is also important. Sometimes you need to take several photos, one from a distance to show location, and closer ones to show detail.

Indication of orientation

It can sometimes be difficult to tell which way up a photograph is. Please try to make it clear on the photograph which way is up!

Identification (name, date of birth, and date of photo)

We need the details of who the photograph is of. We will need both name and date of birth. This is because some photos we are sent are of a relative (or even a neighbour!). We need to make absolutely sure the photos go in the right set of notes. Each photo should include these details on it.
I suggest you write these details on a piece of paper and include it in the photograph.

Make sure it is in focus!

You would be surprised at the number of images we get sent that are blurry. Do your best to make the photos clear and sharp.

Be aware

Be aware that photographs sent to your doctor form part of your medical record, and will be filed within the record for this reason. They also might have to be sent on to a specialist for further advice (this is another reason for needing the patient identification details requested above).