Parts is Parts

I do a lot of work as a bio-medical photographer, which is a sub-specialty of my general work as an industrial photographer for a large university and medical center. One of my duties is to photograph body parts (as well as body ‘wholes’).
Photographing a body part is easiest when the part is uncovered. This ensures the photographs will be useful to the doctor who ordered the photography. The more parts of a body there are to photograph, the more the body needs to be uncovered.
The most practical way to photograph many different body parts on one body (with live bodies, anyway) is to have the parts’ owner remove all of his or her clothing. So, imagine me standing in a locked exam room while holding a camera that’s wired to bright photographic strobe lights, and while wearing substantially more clothing than the only other person in the room. I see things.
Here are some interesting facts and observations relating to photographing naked people for medical purposes:

1. They don’t pay me well enough. I earn a hell of a lot more when photographing mannequins for Nordstrom.
2. Male patients do not at all like being photographed by a male photographer–which makes me wonder if homophobia is a hardwired gender instinct.
3. Female patients usually don’t care who photographs their parts–or which parts are photographed–as long as the work is done right. Female patients shake my hand and thank me; male patients retreat quickly to their dressing room.
4. All–ALL–distinguishing details of a patient’s body mysteriously disappear from my memory thirty seconds after I take their last photo. Really! I’ve run into female patients in the clinic lobby ten minutes after I’ve escorted them back to their dressing room, and I have not recognized them, even after they have said hello. (This does beg the question, why do they say hello to me in the clinic lobby?)
5. When I process and print the photos back at my office, I almost never recognize any of the patients.

Weird, huh? But when I compare notes with other male medical photographers and radiographers–even the good looking single males–they all report the same experiences. Nobody remembers anything.
So, there you go. Men really do have something on their minds besides sex. At least, some of the time they do.

July 7, 2012

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