Whenever time and a patient’s condition allow, distractions should be eliminated from a clinical photograph. These include clothing, jewelry (unless jewelry caused the condition), hair, medical equipment, cosmetics (unless cosmetics caused the condition) blood, IV tubing, oxygen tubing, and patient identification bracelets.
Removing clutter from the background that competes with the pathologic detail will make a more visually appealing image. Every effort to clean up or cover the background should be made. Having a consistent background draws the viewer’s attention to the pathology.
A blank, un-textured, neutral colored wall or door makes an excellent background for the head, neck, or torso.
Surgical towels, bedsheets, or surgical gowns create a uniform background for smaller subjects. Reflective surfaces such as tile, granite, glass, mirrors, wood should be avoided as they cause unwanted, distracting reflections.
The best background colors for clinical photographs are blue, black, white or gray. These colors seem to recede into the background and are less noticeable. Red or yellow tends to stand out from the image and are eye are drawn to these colors and away from the pathology.
The viewers perception of color is affected by the background. For example, erythema of the skin seems less apparent if a red back ground is used. Blue surgical towels are effective in draping a small subject.
The ubiquitous white sheet is an effective background in most clinical situations, but can create exposure problems in patients with extremely dark- or extremely light-colored skin.