Helen Dixon – Clinical Medical Photographer at Staffordshire University
I asked to Interview Helen via email to find out more about the role of Medical Photographer as this is something I am really interested in progressing further and really, I wanted to know if it was something i would enjoy making a career from. I have researched medical photography and contacted a number of Medical Photographers / Illustrators and had many conversations with them about it.
When i read the reply from Helen, i must say i have never been more sure that this is a path i would like to follow and pursue. Helen has inspired me and I am so please I contacted her. If your reading this Helen, thank you 😀
How did you first get involved in Medical Photography?
In my second year on my Photography degree course I realised I should probably start looking for what sort of career I wanted.
I found medical photography after looking at forenstic photography. After doing some research on it I still had some questions about it so I asked a clinical photographer at my nearest hospital if I got pop in for a chat about what the job entails exactly and for pathways to becoming a medical photographer. I then went on to visit more medical photography departments in the north east (where I live) to see how different they are and what work they specialise in. A week after my graduation I had an interview for the job I have now.
What is your current role within this field?
Clinical (medical) Photographer
Are you also a photographer and if so do you ever like to shoot other styles such as landscape or fashion?
At the moment I don’t do any other photography as I have been busy with my postgraduate course.
However, once a year I take cast photographs and dress rehersal photos for a theatre group at Sunderland Empire Theare.
I enjoy portraiture and I would like to do it more outside of work.
Have you worked in other areas of photography through your career?
I did work as a wedding photographer’s assistant for a time which was hard work to say the least.
What kind of training and qualifications did you get and where did you study?
I studied photography at A level (along with Media and ICT) at Hartlepool Sixth Form College which then led me onto studying a BA (hons) degree in Photography, Video and Digital Imaging at Sunderland University and now I am completing a Postgraduate certificate in Clinical Photography at Staffordshire University (distance learning course).
Would you consider this to be the best job you have ever had?
Without a doubt yes.
Do you have any mistakes you feel you have made with regards to your career path or did you follow a goal and achieve it?
This was my goal from when I was at University and now I have achieved it.
Whats the best advice anyone has ever given to you or that maybe you feel important to give to others?
I think it’s important to remember that you don’t need to know what you want to do for the rest of your life at this stage, it’s about finding something you want to do and going for it.
Is there anything in particular about becoming a Medical Photographer that you feel everyone going into this field should know beforehand?
Knowing what the job entails is essential, you do need to have a strong stomach as some of the conditions that are photographed aren’t particularly pleasant. It is a very rewarding career though. Medical photography departments specialise in different areas, such as dermatology, ophthalmology or graphic design so if you prefer a certain area then you may be able to find a hospital that will suit you more than others.
What would you say was your biggest achievement that your most proud of?
For my end of degree exhibition I put together documentary portraits of children who are suffering from cancer as well as their own images they had taken. It was a very complicated project to complete with a lot ups and downs. When it was put on the wall and I stood back and looked at it I felt very proud to have completed the work with the children and their families.
Lastly, what is your favourite part of this job?
My favourite part of the job is the interaction with patients, you meet some real characters.