male medical photographer


Has anybody ever had a traumatic experience with an insenstive, abrupt and rude male medical photographer when you’ve been photographed before/after reconstruction surgery? I’ve had this experience and know of a few others who have also been intimidated, so am very concerned that there could be others out there.

Please could you let me know if you have had a bad experience, or know of someone who has.


Hi Chimp

I have never had this experience because I haven’t had a reconstruction but I am so sorry you have had a bad experience. If this sort of thing is going on then we have to unite to stop it happening.

Sending you a big hug.
Maude xx

If you feel strongly enough about it, I suggest you write to your surgeon to express your concerns. If you write, rather than just say something (or say nothing) then they have to respond. And putting your thoughts down on paper gives you the chance to choose your words carefully. If you have a particular aim with your letter, for example getting an apology, having a different photographer for your “after” shot or getting the person to be more aware of the need for sensitivity (perhaps could do with further training?) mention in your letter what you want the outcome to be.

You have a right to be treated with sensitivity and dignity, and if this person did not do so he needs to be made aware of where he failed and that failure remedied.

If you don’t get anywhere with that letter (though I suspect you will get a suitable response from your surgeon) I think there’s PALS who can look at your concerns.

Good luck, both with this nastiness and the mastectomy.

Hi Chimp, so sorry you’ve had this bad experience on top of other things on your plate just now. I agree with CM (she is always a wise contributor!!)-its not OK and if you can bear to write to the surgeon or the person who manages the photographer then it will get dealt with. I wrote to the hospital twice during my treatment and both times stated clearly what I wanted done about the issue - in one case when a student radiographer just starred at my MX scar and didn’t introduce herself either I asked for an apology and also to be able to talk to the student to say how it made me feel and explain how important it is not to treat women like lumps of meat…
the hospital responded really well to both my different letters and I felt good about improving practice for other people coming after me.
best of luck with it, and good for you for not accepting the unacceptable

Hiya Chimp,
I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience, did you have an escort who you can ask to back you up on your complaint with you? The escort should have been FEMALE and also should have stopped the photographer from making any inappropriate comments, so it may be advisable to report them both.

I had a male photographer, but was fortunate that he was very kind and reassuring and the escort was very protective too. She didn’t want him to see me undress, which kin of made me laugh as I was having my breast photographed rather than my head!

Good luck
Helen x

This is terrible how he made you feel and I’m really sorry. My surgeon took pictures - before and after - and was like an excited school boy and so pleased at his work, it was quite comical. I did have another nurse in the room when he took the pictures and my husband.

I agree with moorcow and CM - don’t accept the unacceptable - your hospital needs to know about this so they can put it right and it doesn’t happen again.

hi ladies,

i feel so very (I dont know the correct word to use) but i know at this moment in time i wouldnt want a male seeing my mx scar, i am particularly sensitive and have some issues with how i look a purely personal thing,

its a difficult one isnt it, but its upsetting enough without adding to things,

maybe one where ladies should be doing the job

Liz xxx

hi chimp

i didnt have a bad experience with a male medical photographer but with a whole team in the simulator including a male something or other… dont even know his name or job title as he never introduced himself just came over when i had my eyes closed and started drawing on my nipple with his felt tip pen and when i looked up he was just THERE!.. it was one of the most degrading experiences iv ever had… i spent the whole session in tears.

i actually spoke to my BCN and complained afterwards and the simulation team came up with a crap excuse that they were different staff who didnt usually do that and worked elsewhere in the hosp but were covering for sick leave… all the more reason to be especially sensitive then when you are dealing with cancer patients!

if you have had a bad experience def say to somebody… you could contact pals too and make an official complaint.

Lulu x

Hi all

Thanks for your responses, you are very kind. I did put in an official complaint at the time (nearly 4 years ago)and was assured that measures would be taken to address this issue, however, I have spoken to others recently who have described his manner as abrupt, so it seems he hasn’t changed.

I just thought I’d see who else may have had bad experiences generally with photographers, (and it seems regrettably that some of you have - hugs to you) so I could see if this type of treatment was commonplace.

Thanks all. Just a thought - could you ask any peers what their experiences were as they may not use the forums?



hi All

I have had so many bad experiences with medics all the way through and there is more to come with the tattooing, so hoping I get a human for that. Long story short: I find it very hard to be undressed now and I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of the revised recon but was even more upset at the original effort. Feb 2010 I was sent to a “big” hospital with a three word name for revision of a gone wrong immediate reconstruction, this was about 15 months after the mx/recon op. The male photographer had no escort and i had to undress behind a screen and walk topless to the other side of a large room - I was humiliated and ashamed and felt completely degraded by the experience - he was very brusque and annoyed that I could not look him in the eyes to follow his “Arms like this” routine. I could not stop crying all the way through the shoot. to make matters worse the door opened and someone walked in, another patient. I just ran out still crying but was afraid to say anything as the BCN had made it clear that she thinks it is my maladjustment which is the real issue. But actually, it is completely understandable that women feel vulnerable naked, you’d think it would have dawned on some of these people that would be even more the case for women like us.

Jane x


I’m really shocked by what has happened to you and if the BCN can’t even emphasise with you then she shouldn’t be doing that job! I would complain to your surgeon about this, simply unacceptable! No one should have to put up with being put in that situation. I do wonder why some folk work in hospitals… Take care.

Perhaps these photographers should be asked to strip naked to take the photos and then they would know just how intimidating it feels and how vunerable we feel. It is just not good enough.
I volunteered once ( never again) as a patient for a doctor’s exam. We were put, two patients to a room, and when the doctors came in they would ask us questions. ( within earshot of each other. Some of them a bit sensitive.
The room was unheated, dirty and even had an ancient changing mat and a potty and paper tissues all over the floor.(Previously used for a paediatric clinic but never cleaned!)
We waited for ages in the room. When the doctors did appear they asked us questions in front of the other patient in the room. I personally did not mind too much but the elderly lady who was being questioned was very uncomfortable. The room was cold so we asked for more heating. Later in the day, it became too hot so we had to have the door ajar. I could hear every question being asked/discussed re the other patients. Not very confidential.
Lunch time came.All the doctors got silver service in an anti-room. We got sandwiches and I never yet received the cup of tea I asked for. One of the “patients” was a vegetarian but whent the sandwiches got to her there were only meat variety left! She by the way was from a ward and in her pajamas!
Later in the day I asked just how much longer we would be and that I had been there since 9 am. " 9am" said the nurse. “I had to be here at 7 30 to get things ready for them!” so much for being understanding. Later my husband came to take me home. But I wasn’t told he had arrived. They told him to come back an hour later as the exam had not finished. All of us were angr. I wrote in and complained afterwards. I do not know if anyone else complained. But the reply was “pass the buck”. Won’t go on anymore but i was furious. I wrote to the Consultant surgeon who had phoned me to ask if I would be a “patient” and told her just what an awful experience it had been and that I would not help out again unless they reviewed the problems I experienced on the day…seems like things need improved still.

Thank you all for your comments. I’m so so sorry that we’ve experienced these things but why is it I’m getting the feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg?!

I hope more of you ladies will feel enabled to let me know about your experiences because I feel that the more info we have the better for fighting to have these issues addressed! It’s truly shocking!!

Thanks again

Chimpy xxx

Hi everyone

I hope you don’t mind me going off the subject slightly but this has got me thinking about other medical procedures. Before my dx I had a couple of ECGs at my local surgery and I was asked to undress to the waist for this procedure. I didn’t really like doing it but it was in the presence of a female nurse and I just thought let’s get it over with. I went to an appointment with my friend a few weeks ago and she had to have an ECG and was asked to strip to the waist. It got me thinking what would I do now if I had to go for an ECG after having a mx. Should I say I feel uncomfortable stripping to the waist and ask if I can cover myself up?

Your thoughts on this would be welcome.

Maude xx


I had echocardiograms during my herceptin treatment, so post mx. They were always with a male staff member, and I had to undress in the same room as him, with no screen for dignity, it wasn’t pleasant, I just used to take myself somewhere else mentally and pretend it wasn’t happening.

Same with radiotherapy. That was awful. Again I had to strip off (and dress afterwards) in full view of the staff, and there was usually one male and one female staff member present.

When I was photographed pre recon, again it was a male photographer, but he apologised there was no female (she was on maternity leave), there was a female chaperone (who avoided looking at me - it was all very uncomfortable) and there was a screen to change behind. So that experience, although unpleasant, was handled as well as possible.

Hi Maude

I have had several ECGs before and after mx and recon. I have always been told to keep my bra on (they have even put pads on my ankles over tights).
If you feel uncomfortable (and I can totally understand why you would) I would always mention it.


I don’t understand the need for a “medical photographer” to be involved at all. My breast surgeon asked me if I was happy to be photographed, then whipped out a camera, took the photo, job done! I was sitting in her office, already naked to the waist for the examination so it wasn’t a big deal, over and done with. Why don’t other breast surgeons do this?

I am horrified by all of your experiences with insensitive male staff. I have never been treated with anything other than total respect. Everytime I have been examined by my breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon I saw etc I have always been left to get undressed behind a curtain and given a sheet to cover my top half with, the surgeon as always asked if its ok if he looks at my breast and apart from when he examined the good breast keeps that one covered. My bcn has always been present too. When I saw my GP as I had an infection post mx he always follows the same procedure and asks if I want a female nurse present. I am sorry this is not the same for everyone xx

Hi All

Beginning to think my hospital has a long way to go on dignity issues.

I had a liver ultrasound and ECG during chemo - in both cases told to undress to the waist and remove the wig in case it slipped off onto the floor. Again, horrendous, horrible vulnerable experiences. Also, I hate the Nurses who attend as chaperones and stand facing you, staring at it. Why can’t they stand next to you and facing the Dr. It’s clear a number of them are actually embarrassed although they say things like it looks fine. At my hospital they have a habit of having rooms full of people all staring whilst you are naked and it stinks. Like RR says, you try to transport yourself mentally but it is tough. Worst of all is that you are made to feel like a fuss pot for objecting. The surgeon who did me says “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before and I have seen much worse”. Well, that does not help at all and I often felt like saying “Well, I haven’t shown it to anyone else”. I can’t believe I used to feel confident in my body, feels like another life.

Love to you all

Jane x

HI Jane, so sorry you’ve had experiences that make you feel degraded - if you have the energy (I didn’t much) please comment / feedback etc cos staff really need to learan how to be with us…I think your thoughts about "well I haven’t shown it to other people before " is spot on . When the student radiographer starred at me like a lump of meat I fedback a few days later - after weeping and refusing to go back to rads!!! I said to her superviser please ask her how she would feel getting underessed everyday for 15 days infront of at least 3 people and showing them a new body that she hasn’t got used to herself yet…and I asked to hear what she said in reply.
Never got that but the superviser did say she had said my exact words to the student…
really hope you feel you get your confidence back gradually - now that I’m a few months out I refused to do what I was asked in OP clinic - I was asked to undress and lie down in clinic room for surgeon to come in to see me , in order apparently that I didn’t waste his time. I refused and said I would talk to him sitting up in the chair and dressed, and then if he wanted to examine me I would undress and lie down…no-one batted an eyelid!
go girl,
huge hugs and good wishes