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How to Take Pictures for Online Health Queries?

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How to Take Pictures for Online Health Queries?

4 min read


This article tells you how to take pictures of your medical records and your own body while seeking health advice online.

Written by

Dr. Arvind Guru

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At April 22, 2017
Reviewed AtAugust 22, 2022

How Are Pictures Useful in Online Health Queries?

Here a picture will say a thousand words, but only in a mysterious language of medical literature. Though images of affected areas of the body may not completely replace the need for in-person examination, in most cases, if rightly taken and when considered in the appropriate context, these can:

  1. Cut down on the number of non-productive visits to a local health facility before you are prepared in your mind for undergoing treatment.

  2. It can be a great replacement for in-person evaluation for many skin lesions.

  3. Can guide you to seek help early if there is some problem waiting to happen.

  4. Easily monitor the progress or the healing of wounds and skin lesions.

  5. Can decrease the associated awkwardness or anxiety of multiple private part examinations.

  6. These pictures can be used to digitize and keep a handy copy of your and your family's medical records, and when required, they can be uploaded along with your queries while seeking health advice online.

How Should One Take Pictures for Online Consultations?

Take pictures bearing the following things in mind:

1) There is no better light than daylight to take pictures, including selfies. It is diffuse and neutral in color.

  • In case of both documents as well as body regions, try to take pictures in a well-lit room with ample daylight.

  • If sunlight is not possible, use the brightest lit room. Fluorescent white light works better than yellow incandescent bulbs.

  • Try to avoid flash, especially with a mobile phone. You can use a study or table lamp if you need more light. In the case of private parts, where flash is usually required, use a proper camera in macro mode (the flower symbol) and not a mobile phone.

  • Megapixels do not matter much until the picture is around 5 to 8 MP. Do not use special effects and filters; most cameras and phones in auto modes work well enough.

  • If you are digitizing your documents with a scanner, then a scan at 200 dpi for documents and 300 dpi for pictures would be more than sufficient for most purposes. Save your files as .png or .jpg files. The scanner gives the best results for glossy papers.

2) Wash or clean the area thoroughly before you take a picture.

3) Try to take someone’s help in taking pictures, especially for the back. Stand straight or lie down with your arms by the sides while taking a picture. Rotated pictures can be very confusing. In case you cannot take someone’s help, use a selfie stick or a camera on a stand and timer mode.

4) Wide field of an image helps in the orientation of the picture. If you have a problem near your belly button, take a picture to include the whole abdomen extending from the lower chest and include the groin. You can take a further close-up after the wide view picture and post both pictures.

5) In the case of eyes, ears, limbs, joints, hands, feet, etc., the field of the picture should contain both the sides of the body; for example, if you have an issue with one knee, put both the knees together and then ask someone to take the picture. In the case of documents, image the whole page, including date and institution, lab name, and place.

6) Take a picture of the site of the problem or lesion by placing a measuring tape by the side of the lesion. Place the measuring tape in centimeters around 10 cm from the edge of the problem lesion. Do not use a metal ruler as it will shine, and glare will obscure the markings. If using a plastic ruler, paste a strip of white paper behind a transparent ruler to make its markings prominent.

7) The background of the image that would help to bring out the contrast better is a gray or dark bluish color. This is because most cameras are automatically set to designate around 15 % of colors in a picture as being gray.

8) The best angle for taking a picture of a document is,

  • Place the document straight and flat on an even surface like a table, bed, floor, etc.

  • Stand towards the bottom edge of the paper with light coming from the top side or left side of the document. Here an open window with daylight or a table lamp works perfectly.

  • Take a straight overhead shot of the document with your mobile phone. You can use the so-called scanner applications (in batch mode) on your phone to convert all pages of a report into a single pdf file as well. The biggest plus point of these applications is that they allow you to straighten the angled corners of the page images very easily. Also, these have automatic basic contrast enhancement features.

  • Imaging glossy paper is a bit tricky. Here the precaution is, if the light is falling on the left side of the paper document while taking the picture, angle the camera towards the same side as the light source, that is, towards the left itself. This way, you will avoid catching a glare of the glossy or photo paper.

9) But for the body regions, the best angle is not straight but a spot-on view of the site.

  • The best case would be one picture straight spot-on and two more images, one each from the opposite sides of the body, slightly around 30 degrees off the direct spot-on view. This is required to show the depth or height of the lesion.

  • If this sounds too complicated for you, then just take one image slightly off the direct spot-on.

  • Else, take multiple angles and then select the ones that you think most closely and comprehensively represent the lesion.

10) Making a brief HD video is also possible, provided the website accepts it.

Regarding Privacy Concerns:

  • You should always cover your date of birth, address, and contact information in your documents with bookmark prompts or a marker before taking the picture. These can be covered digitally as well. For body parts, other than the face (for which you can wear shades), rest all, including private parts, is very hard to identify uniquely.


Pandemic has made telemedicine one of the essential services. Taking photographs, keeping all the useful things mentioned above in mind, improves both doctor and patient satisfaction in diagnosis and treatment planning.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Take Pictures on the Internet?

Pictures from the internet can be taken by pressing the control “Ctrl” key along with the “Print Screen” button simultaneously to take screenshots of pictures from the internet. The picture can be saved from the internet by using the link. The pictures of oneself can be clicked by turning on the computer's camera.


Is There an Online Doctor for Sending Pictures?

Online doctors are available on various sites and apps and can be consulted by sharing images. They are usually paid and require online payment for consultation with a doctor. The consultation can be done by chat or video call.


What Refers to Medical Photographs?

Medical photography is the specialization of photography concerned with clinical documentation and presentation of surgical and medical procedures. It records accurate and detailed images to monitor and diagnose the patient's symptoms. It is also a useful tool for research purposes.


How to Take Before and After Face Photos?

The before picture should always be without makeup and tied-up hair. The background should be present with full lighting. The comparison between before and after pictures can be used to have detailed documentation of the treatment.


Why are Clinical Photos Taken?

Clinical photography is the recording of the clinical conditions represented by the patient. Clinical photos are essential for correlating before and after the patient's treatment. They are also required for confidential medical documentation.


How to Use Photography in Medical Field?

The photography is done in a professional manner by keeping the background white. The eyes of the patient are blackened. The patient's details are always mentioned, along with their pictures.


What Refers to Biomedical Photography?

Biomedical photography refers to the specialization of photography concerned with clinical documentation and presentation of medical treatments. It records accurate and detailed images to monitor and diagnose the patient's symptoms. These photographs are used in medical journals, research reporting, and scientific journals.


Why Do Medical Photos Are Present With Blackened Eyes?

Medical photos are present with blackened eyes to cover the patient's identity. It is done to prevent the recognition of the patient’s face. It is widely accepted by medical journals, cases, and books.


What Is the Meaning of Red Eyes in the Photos?

A red reflex occurs when the camera light flashes are reflected on the retina. If eyes are directly projected into the camera lens, they tend to appear red. It is a good sign that retina of both eyes is healthy and unobstructed.


What Is the Meaning of Virtual Consultation?

Virtual consultation helps to provide consultation by video conferencing. The patient can use a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop for a virtual consultation. Multiple sites and apps are available for virtual medical consultation.


Is Online Medical Consultation Considered Legal?

Online medical consultation is a type of telemedicine communication. Online consultation with the patient should be done from a registered site or app. It is based on subjective documentation and cannot involve detecting basic signs like pulse and heartbeat.


Is Telehealth Refer to Video or Phone?

Telehealth can include both videos as well as phone calls or chats. The most common method of consultation is by using video conferencing. It can be done by using mobiles and laptops.


Can We Send Photos to Doctors?

The photos can be sent to the doctor through online platforms. Online platforms include certain applications and sites. Photos help to give a detailed diagnosis in the physical absence of the patient.


How to Take a Throat Picture?

A throat picture can be taken by tilting the phone and opening the mouth wide. A person can click the picture while the patient opens their mouth widely. A healthy throat looks shiny and pink.


How to Take Medical Pictures?

Photos should be taken in natural light if possible. The patient should stand straight or lie down with arms by the side. Patients' facial profiles should be taken and documented in medical records.
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Dr. Arvind Guru
Dr. Arvind Guru

General Surgery


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