Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Photography in medicine

Doctors adopted the idea of using photography in medicine within one year of its invention. In 1840 at the Charité Hospital in Paris, Alfred François Donné photographed sections of bones and teeth by making daguerreotypes through a microscope. Between from 1848 to 1858 the British psychiatrist Hugh Welch Diamond photographed patients in an asylum and suggested that photography could be useful in the diagnosis of mental disorders. He was followed in 1856 by the French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne and later by his pupil Jean-Martin Charcot, who also believed photography would play a significant role in the diagnosis and management of patients. By 1870, Maury and Duhring had established a journal based on medical photography; and soon photography became used in all branches of medicine, including dermatology.

This image comes from a clinical atlas of diseases of the skin published in 1872. It shows a young boy with alopecia aerata, a skin condition in which hair falls out in large round patches. The condition tends to be self-limited and improves without any specific treatment.


A young boy with alopecia poses for a photograph
Page from Clinique photographique des maladies de la peau by Alfred Hardy and A. de Montméja, published 1872. Hagstromerbiblioteket.



Highlighted Vignette Volume 15, Issue 1 – Winter 2023

Fall 2019   |  Sections  |  Science

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