May 24, 2016

Photoshopping a Lecture

As I may have mentioned, I gave a lecture on Social Media for the Design/Decorating Profession last week. However, this week’s lecture could not be more polar opposite. Luckily, I am not the one actually giving the lecture, just producing it. But that’s taking loads of time. After next week, things get much better!

The lecture is at my office, which is the state’s medical society. We were founded in 1799, and have an extensive archive from which I draw much inspiration, as you’ve seen. This year’s history of medicine in Maryland lecture is Tales from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Sort of our own personal version of CSI.

As soon as we decided on the topic, I knew what image I’d use for the invitation. I had found it in our archives about a year ago, and scanned it for future use. Of course, I had to work some PhotoShop magic on it. Here’s the original-ish image.program cover2

It is from a 1903 anatomy class at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine. If you look, you can see the year, as well as a small skull and crossbones.

The top line on the table is taken from a poem by William Knox: Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud? Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, Man passeth from life to his rest in the grave.

The second line is from Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1, as Hamlet holds Yorick’s skull: To what base uses may we return, Horatio?

The third line has no attribution, but it is also seen on a 1901 photograph of an anatomy class, remarkably similar to our archival photograph, but with no identifying information.

I got rid of some of the writing so that I could include the event details. I did have to keep the bottom line because it fit so perfectly. I found a great font on DaFont that worked well with the period of the photograph. 4x6 Postcard front

In another iteration, I played with Photoshop and curled the corner, but I thought it was too cheezy. It actually looks better on a white background.postcard invitation curl

For the first image, which I am using on the program, I added a deckle-edge frame and did a drop shadow. I found some fun images from our archives to add to the inside of the program. deformed spine

This lecture ought to be fascinating. I’ve already written about one of the things the speaker will talk about – the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Click here. Just as a tiny detail, Maryland is one of the only states that doesn’t have county coroners. We just have the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for Maryland, who handles deaths across the state.


  1. Where did the bodies come from to study? Encounters with the citizens on patrol? I hope they didn't cost 6.4 million dollars each.

    1. Early on, like in the early 1800's, they probably came from the graveyard next door to the medical school. Now most of them are donated by people who leave their bodies to the anatomy board.

  2. Hi Meg, My daughter is starting med school at UMD in Baltimore this week. She sent this out to all of the first year med students since anatomy lab starts on Tues. They loved the photo and the quotes!:)


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