Typology of Doctors Instagram images (2018)


This post first appeared in my OCA learning blog in 2018. It is reproduced here as that site is now archived. The film produced is also archived.


E 2.1: ‘Typology’

Brief: Bring together a series of 12 images (a typology) in which a particular motif appears again and again. For this exercise, you may use found images (images you have at home as part of a family archive, for example) or images found online (from photo-sharing sites such as Flickr, for example). Select an appropriate way to display your series (as an animated slide presentation, in grid form, as single images, etc.) and present them on your learning log. Look at the work of Corinne Vionnet. In her series Photo Opportunities, Vionnet uses Flickr archives to pull together vast series of images taken from a similar position in popular tourist sites. She then uses digital layering techniques to bring these images together into the one frame. 

1. Introduction

I have Instagram and Flickr accounts but rarely use them. My tutor was surprised by that. I have been thinking about adding them to my output as a way of advertising my work. This will become more important as I progress in my practice. A good way to find out more is to research them for this exercise.

I am interested in the images that doctors post about themselves and what they says about their identities. I have completed previous work examining what images the NHS uses to promote the work of ‘hero’ doctors but I am more interested in personal rather than corporate posts. I suspect there will be recurring images that can be framed into a typology of doctor’s personal lives.

2. Image research – finding a typology

There is a myriad of posts from medical doctors worldwide. The main site I used was ‘medical doctors’ on Instagram as it was a large database and had repetitive elements of many of the other sites. I looked at 100 posts.

The recurring themes were

  • Doctors as sacrificial to ‘their art’
  • The heart
  • ‘The worship and wonders of technology’
  • Imaging technology – US and MRIs
  • The iconography of images of the heart, ECG tracing, scrubs, gloves and brain images
  • Doctors love lists for learning and presenting to others
  • Giving health messages
  • Showing weird people and conditions
  • Nostalgic images of the health service
  • Children especially babies who have had chemo or who are juxtaposed with he hero doctor
  • Hero doctors – the ‘George Clooney’ look – the ‘beautiful’ doctor
  • Impenetrable medical terms and language – ‘mastery of the word’
  • Inspirational quotes for doctors largely about perseverance in training

3. Thinking about presentation

I am going to produce an animated slide show with music and sounds.  One of the typological elements that I can centre my presentations is of the heart. I remember the Peter Seller’s and Sophie Loren’s song ‘Goodness gracious me!’ which could be used as a soundtrack, but maybe that is not serious enough.

3.1 Presentation – Lightroom

I normally use Premier Pro to produce slide shows and films but decided to try this with Lightroom. I quickly realised that there is not a lot of flexibility in producing a slide show with this. The greatest limitation is getting the images to fill the frame – it does not work well enough and I gave up in frustration – back to Premier Pro!

3.2 Presentation – Premier Pro

May approach was iterative in the sense that I had a typological framework, as described above, and the images imported into the programme then started to order images as seemed fit. I also loaded up some ECG bleeping sounds. I am not sure about music at this stage.

I am conscious of the Corrine Vionnet productions at this stage and may experiment with overlapping.

4. The presentation

Here is the first presentation with some music and a heartbeat

I was not entirely happy with the slide show as it lacked complexity. I layered the images and this makes for a more effective presentation.

I was looking for a soundtrack akin to that of a corporate video and found it at – Stoner, A. (2018). Digital Love (audio). https://taketones.com/track/digital-love. Licence N: TTFREE154729702366139348. taketones.com.

5. My reflections on this exercise

I think that I have fulfilled the brief although some of the layer combinations could have been better. I think that they do represent some of the repeated themes that doctors post on social media about themselves.


Customize buttons

16th January 2021

Review and reflections on this post.

This was meant to be a purely visual exercise, hence no numerate data. I have picked up this theme of iconography in doctor images again in my final year. Perhaps the most interesting thing and the themes that my research generated. I may do some original research here.