The application of a photoacoustic imaging instrument based upon a Fabry-Perot polymer film ultrasound sensor to imaging the superficial vasculature is described. This approach provides a backward mode-sensing configuration that has the potential to overcome the limitations of current piezoelectric based detection systems used in superficial photoacoustic imaging. The system has been evaluated by obtaining non-invasive images of the vasculature in human and mouse skin as well as mouse models of human colorectal tumours. These studies showed that the system can provide high-resolution 3D images of vascular structures to depths of up to 5 mm. It is considered that this type of instrument may find a role in the clinical assessment of conditions characterized by changes in the vasculature such as skin tumours and superficial soft tissue damage due to burns, wounds or ulceration. It may also find application in the characterization of small animal cancer models where it is important to follow the tumour vasculature over time in order to study its development and/or response to therapy.