Why Photography is Important in Dentistry

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Fri, Dec 16, 2016 @ 01:01 PM

Looking ahead to your career in dentistry, one begins to think of the major aspects that surround a practitioner’s life. Between working one-on-one with patients, running your small business, marketing your future practice (making sure to be aware of new trends and technologies in the marketplace), and increasing your skills, it can seem like nothing can go at the wayside. But have you thought lately about photography, and specifically how much of an important factor it plays in dentistry?

Photography’s use in dentistry cannot be understated. When it comes to practice marketing, no better tool is at the dentist’s disposal. With so much weight put on new business and production, constantly working towards getting new patients in while retaining existing patients, photography can be a good way to communicate directly towards healthcare consumers and support a healthy online presence.

griffin-presentation.jpgA recent presentation from Dr. Jack Griffin, well-respected clinician, author, and educator entitled, “Excellence in Digital Photography & Case Acceptance,” explains how quality photographs support your future practice and help you communicate effectively with your patients. Here’s how to use dental photography to help market your future dental practice:

Photos Over Words

You don’t want to drive a text-heavy marketing message, as consumers and visitors will not be too keen on sticking around to read all your information. In this fast-paced world of social media, it’s challenging to keep users and visitors on your content for long. Lead with photos and let them do the talking. If they’re of good quality and the text adds in pertinent details about the type of care provided, you’ll be queued up to engage visitors.

Smartphone Friendly

Keeping with the times and being optimized for mobile browsers is key. With smartphones and so many easily distracting elements to online usage and screen time, it’s important to hook the consumers in right away with photos to keep them on your practice website or social accounts. With Instagram and other photo-centric apps and technologies at the forefront of current trends, it’s easy to see why taking and developing good quality photos will help you win over your fans and followers. Not only does it allow you to establish your bona fides as a clinician, but photos also allow you to demonstrate the personality of the practice and its staff when posted for convenient viewing.


griffin-office-photo-presentation.jpgIf you have a knack for design, then there are plenty of opportunities to have some fun with your practice marketing and content! Build a logo or structure your future practice on color schemes or designs. For holidays or other important events, give your colors and design a nice upgrade to welcome the coming traditions. Consistency in keeping to a theme or major design tactic will allow better flow when it comes to your marketing principals. If this is not a skill set you have, there are experienced dental website designers and consultants to guide your vision to the desktops and mobile devices of your prospective patients. Request a referral to a provider and start from there.

It’s easy to forget about how much marketing plays a huge role in the success of your future practice. However, it’s one of the most important ways you are going to get new patients to schedule appointments and build your practice. Compared to your clinical training, it’s not that hard to do! Be aware of how visual marketing has become and you will have great ideas of how to best evoke the philosophies and culture of your future practice. Have fun with it!

Tags: dentistry, marketing, photography, digital photography

Fundamentals of Digital Photography

Posted by Anthony Chen on Tue, Dec 13, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

Photography can be scary and challenging especially for new beginners. Picking up the camera can be like picking up the drill for the first time. How do I hold it? Where do I point it? Is it on? But eventually with practice, we become inseparable from the instrument that was once so foreign to us. Hopefully, this guide will make that journey less intimidating.

The Basics

First off, to understand photography, we need to understand the holy trinity of photography: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.


Aperture refers to the opening in the lens. The bigger the aperture, the more light comes through, just like how our pupil functions. Thus, when shooting in low light, we want a bigger aperture to let more light through or else our pictures will come out darker than we want. On the camera, aperture is denoted as an F number, or F stop. For example: F1.8, F8, F11. The smaller the F stop number, the bigger the aperture. So F2 will have a bigger opening than F11, so keep that in mind!

Now in addition to controlling the amount of light, the aperture also affects the camera’s depth of field. Depth of field in photography refers to how much of the picture is in focus. Remember the first time we picked up our loupes and realized that we have to work at a fixed distance or else our vision gets blurry? This is the exact same concept. A bigger aperture will give us a shallower depth of field, leaving our subject tack sharp and everything else blurry. Conversely, a smaller aperture will give a deeper DoF, allowing us to render our subject, foreground, and background equally crisp and sharp.

f-1.8.png f-11.png

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed in photography controls how long the shutter stays opened. A higher shutter speed will let in less light. Think of it as how fast we are blinking our eyes. The faster the shutter speed, the darker the image. Thus, in low light, we want a slower shutter speed to let in more light. However, low shutter speed also means blurriness from motion. If our camera shutter is not fast enough, we will end up with an unclear picture of a moving subject. On our camera, the shutter speed is denoted in seconds: 1/200s, 1/50s, 1s, 2s.

1-1250s.png 1-40s.png


The ISO number on our camera tells us how sensitive to light the sensor is. The higher the ISO number, the more light the camera will pick up. When we increase our ISO without changing our aperture and shutter speed, our whole picture becomes brighter, which is really helpful when we are limited by those two factors. For example, if we wanted to get a shot of our best friend jumping, we want a really high shutter speed to reduce blurriness from motion. However, there is not enough light, so our picture comes out very dark even when our aperture is at its widest. In this scenario, increasing the ISO will give us a brighter image. So why don’t we shoot in high ISO all the time? Well, the caveat is that higher ISO images tends to be grainier due to the limitation of the camera sensor. Therefore, we should always shoot at the lowest ISO setting possible for highest image quality.

iso100.png iso-6400.jpg

Intraoral Photography

intraoral.jpgNow that we understand the basics, we can dive deeper into dental photography. On the camera, there are usually 5 main settings on the dial: Auto, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Program, and Manual. Each of these settings tells us which parameter we get to control when we shoot in these modes. For example, in aperture priority, we get to set our desired aperture and the camera calculates what shutter speed and ISO we need to get a balanced image. Now, because we want full control of our image, we will be shooting in Manual mode, where we can setup the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO manually. Each camera and lens is different, so the best settings on each will vary, so this is where our knowledge of the fundamentals come into play. But generally speaking, here are the settings we can start with:

intraoral2.jpgAperture: F22

  • for clarity from anteriors to molars

Shutter speed: 1/200s

  • to reduce motion blur from a moving patient

ISO: 100

  • the lowest on the camera

Tweaking for the Best Shot

The biggest problem in intraoral photography is lighting. Without enough light, we will have to shoot at very high ISO, which produces grainy images. So we want to maximize our lighting in any way possible, such as using our overhead light, using a flash, or having mirrors in the mouth to bounce light. Trial and error will play a big role here and figuring out which of the 3 factors we can sacrifice will help us get there. For example, if we shoot at settings mentioned above and the image comes out dark, the first thing we can do is to bump up the ISO. If increasing the ISO to 800 yields us a great picture without much grain, we can stop there. Finding out where the ISO cutoff is before the picture becomes grainy will help speed up the process. Now if we find out that increasing the ISO to the max still doesn’t help the picture brightness, we need to change the other 2 parameters. Usually shutter speed becomes the setting to be altered because we want to keep our DoF at the widest. In the case that we don’t need a deep DoF, such as an extraoral, facial shot, we can increase the aperture, giving us more leeway in our shutter speed and ISO.

Other pointers

  • camera-lens.jpgIn some lens, changing the focal length (zooming in or out) will change the aperture.
  • There is usually a manual switch on the lens itself that allows us to manually focus on our subject. This is important because sometimes the camera will not focus on the actual tooth we want to focus on.
  • Gather as much light as possible onto the subject, whether intraoral or extraoral.

Taking photographs is like cutting a prep. It is difficult at first, but we become faster and more comfortable with time. So from this point forward, practice makes perfect, so let’s get clicking!


Tags: photography, digital photography

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