Category Archives: Careers in imaging

The Bennett Collection

After 44 years in the field of ophthalmic imaging, I recently retired from fulltime practice as a clinical photographer. It was truly humbling when the Penn State Department of Ophthalmology honored my career by publishing a collection of images curated by David Quillen, MD Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. Here are Dr. Quillen’s words and a link to the collection:

April 1, 2022 marked a significant milestone in the history of Penn State Eye Center: Timothy J. Bennett, longtime ophthalmic photographer, retired following a remarkable career.  Mr. Bennett arrived in Hershey in 1994.  During his 28-year association with Penn State, he made significant contributions to our patient care, education, and research missions.  Ophthalmic imaging is critical in the day-to-day life of an eye practice.  Ophthalmic testing—including fundus photography, intravenous fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, fundus autofluorescence imaging—play a significant role in our ability to diagnose and treat patients. In addition to patient care, ancillary studies are essential for our academic teaching and research programs.  Mr. Bennett is an exceptionally gifted photographer and his images have been used for countless presentations, journal articles, textbooks, and educational resources.  It is no exaggeration to suggest that Penn State Eye Center has one of the highest quality digital image collections in academic ophthalmology.  

In addition to his many contributions to Penn State Eye Center, Mr. Bennett is a nationally recognized author, lecturer, and educator in the field of ophthalmic photography.  He was named a Fellow of the Ophthalmic Photographers Society (OPS).  He has served on the OPS Board of Certification, the OPS Board of Directors, and is Past-President of the OPS.  In 2013, Mr. Bennett was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Contributions to Ophthalmic Photography Award, the highest honor bestowed by the OPS.  This recognition is awarded to select individuals who have promoted or advanced ophthalmic photography and imaging through their craft, writing, or innovations.

As Mr. Bennett concludes his extraordinary career, I want to highlight a small number of his award-winning contributions to ophthalmic photography.  I hope you enjoy the attached digital copy of The Bennett Collection.  And please join me in congratulating Mr. Bennett on a remarkable career and thanking him for his many contributions to Penn State Eye Center and the profession of ophthalmic photography.  We wish him great peace and fulfillment in his retirement. 

Warm regards,

David A. Quillen, MD
George and Barbara Blankenship Professor
Chair, Department of Ophthalmology
Director, Penn State Eye Center

How Did You Get Into This Field?

One of the best ways to ensure high quality ophthalmic diagnostic images is to first establish a rapport with the patient. Once you’ve gained their trust you can easily guide them through the sometimes uncomfortable or stressful process of obtaining information that may determine their diagnosis and influence treatment decisions. Chatting them up a little usually helps to ease their nervousness.  This friendly interaction often leads to some interesting conversations.

Patients who undergo ophthalmic imaging for the first time are especially amazed by the whole experience. They are fascinated by the technology used and the incredible images we are able to obtain.

But they also want to know a little about the qualifications needed to perform these tests. They may ask questions like, “What is your job called?” Or, “How long have you been doing this?”  “Do you need to be a doctor to do this?” But the most common question I get is, “How did you get into this field?” I usually chuckle and then give them my stock answer, “I’m still trying to figure out how that happened!” I go on to explain it’s not something I set out to do as a profession.

Their next comment is usually, “You must have gone to school a long time, or have a special degree, in order to do this.” They are shocked when I tell them that most people in the field were trained on the job and that there aren’t any specific educational or licensure requirements.  It seems to put them at ease when I tell them that I hold multiple certifications in ophthalmic imaging. This speaks to the value of achieving and maintaining voluntary certification.

So how does one get started in this field?

There’s no one “right way” to become an ophthalmic imager. In the absence of formal training or degrees in our profession, most of us learn the majority of the required skills on the job. My background was in commercial photography and I gradually learned enough ophthalmology to apply my photographic skills to imaging the eye. There are many others in the field with a background in photography. Others started as medical assistants or technicians and then learned the photographic side of things on the job. The point is that very few of us set out to become an ophthalmic photographer and one day find ourselves working in the field and learning many of the requisite skills on the job.

One of the problems with OJT is that it is often limited to what is being done in that particular practice setting. To get started in the field or obtain more comprehensive training and  expand your skills you may want to take a look at some currently available resources such as text books, online tutorials here on as well as educational resources through these sources:

So how did you get started in this field? I’m curious to see others’ journey. Feel free to post your story in the comments section below.