Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dental Portraits for Better Marketing

Go look on the web at dental websites and you're bound to see a ton of "before" and "after" images. Some good, some bad. The concept of pre and post images for advertising purposes is a long topic unto itself, and maybe I'll cover that in some future post. For now, I'll keep it really simple. The difference between novices and experts when it comes to dental portraits is depth of field.

Collins dictionary defines depth of field as follows: "the range of distance in front of and behind an object focused by an optical instrument, such as a camera or microscope, within which other objects will also appear clear and sharply defined in the resulting image." 

In other words, great depth of field means that an object and its background are all in focus together. This is exactly what we want when shooting intraoral images. We never want anything out of focus. 

With high depth of field, notice how everything from the retractors to the second molars are in focus. It's what we want for intraoral , but NOT for portraits. Note:I never include retractors in my intramural images but did so for this image for illustrative purposes. 
For portrait shots, to make them look really good, consider getting the background out of focus and actually having poor depth of field. The look will be far superior.

Richard Avedon, arguably the greatest portrait photographer of all time, was a master of depth of  field. Notice how the background behind a young Bob Dylan plays a role, but simply fades away.

High depth of field means that everything, including the background is in focus. It tends to take the viewer's attention away from the subject and more on things that play no role.  Don't make this mistake in portraits of your patients.
Shallow depth of field is the hallmark of great photographers who want the face to stand out. Combine that with the amazing dental ring flash posted previously on this blog and you're good to go.
So, now you can hopefully see the difference between OK and amazing dental portraits. It's all about the REALLY, REALLY easy task of managing f-stops and lighting. The higher the f-stop, the greater the depth of field. The lower the f-stop, the less the depth of field.

If you want to have fun, see my previous post  HERE about the 18" ring light from Stellar. With the right color background, your images will look like nobody else's.

The 18" Stellar ring light makes all the difference. Note: This has not been processed in any way after capture and was taken with a 20 year old lens at my friend's office on the spur of the moment.

Notice the difference in depth of field between these two images. Which is preferred is all based upon personal preference. They were both lit only with the Stellar light and nothing on the camera.

If you want to learn really quickly and easily how to handle depth of field and lighting, consider our DVDs available HERE.  One covers how to get great patient positioning for all images and the other how to set up and use your camera for optimal efficiency.

As always, I'm here if you need anything.

Best Wishes,


  1. I already own a canon 60d but none if the extras (flash macro etc). Before investing in all that wpuld you advise going with a Nikon camera and extras or do you think it's worth working with my 60d?

    1. The Canon 60D is a great camera and as you can see from a number of my blogs, I suggest that one start with the flash and lens system they like and then add the camera. So, if you want to stick with Canon, then I would go with the 100mm Canon lens and their 14ex flash. If, however, you want the Nikon wireless class, then buy the Nikon R1C1 with a Canon lens and you're good to go. It's totally a personal choice. Personally, I'd go with the Nikon body, flash and lens because I'm a fan.

  2. Great photos here- could be good to collaborate with content services such as Dental Practice Newsletters!