Forensic or crime scene photography is an essential aspect of any crime scene investigation. It is the depiction or record of the initial most appearance or outlook of the crime scene. Also, crime scene photos are the permanent record of the physical evidence of the crime. These photos help in the proceedings of the court and aid the process of investigation.
Even though it is considered a type of photography, forensic photography is quite different from mainstream photography. It is done with the prime focus of aiding the investigation process in mind.
Why is it Important?
Capturing the crime scene is important for collecting evidence against the suspects. The importance of forensic photography is to discover possible links between victims, settings, and suspects. Analysis of the crime scene photos is one of the first steps in carrying out the investigation. It is based on Locard’s exchange principle – which states that every criminal leaves a trace on the scene.
This principle advocates the importance of forensic photography. It reiterates how vital it is to portray the crime scene as true to reality as possible. Any item found on the scene can lead to solving the case and catching the culprit.
Hence, the first responder has to secure the crime scene as soon as possible and make sure that nothing is changed. Every piece of evidence should be left untouched and handled with care. Drawing sketches has also helped several crime investigations throughout history. However, sketches lack the true depiction of accurate measurements between the objects.
Crime scene photos help the jurors, judges, and investigators to visualize the crime scene while taking in every detail. Videotaping is also another very effective method in assisting crime investigations. However, photos are still important by the forensics and police departments.
Another reason why forensic photography holds so much importance is because the camera eye often captures what the naked eye might oversee. For instance, forensic photography can often show wounds, marks, imprints on the wall or floor, or certain writings that may lead the investigation toward catching the criminal.
Crimes involving human bodies or victims also benefit significantly from crime scene photography as the photos document marks or blemishes on the body. Moreover, forensic images highlight the injuries and document the body’s shape, position, size, and wounds. All these pieces of evidence are vital to the investigating officer.
Forensic Photography Today
Technological development in photography has opened enormous possibilities in a criminal investigation. Previously, forensic photography was laborious work involving high-end equipment and strict adherence to the photography protocols. The use of digital cameras has eased this task a dozen times.
The photographers can now instantly review their freshly captured photos and adjust settings according to the needs in the next shot. Moreover, as forensic photography is advancing, the photographers are required to apply critical thinking skills in capturing the snaps so that all the documented evidence is clearly shown.
For instance, the point of entry and exit should be captured clearly to demonstrate force marks. Also, the photographers must use a scale when capturing the size or distance of the objects in the scene. Using a wide-angle lens or any distortion can mess up the accurate depiction of the scene.
Some settings require instant capturing of the photos as the weather conditions might interfere. Therefore, the photographers should capture before the crime scene starts to deteriorate. Moreover, forensic images are also enhanced by using alternate light sources, such as lasers or colored light filters to capture hidden marks or fingerprints.
To fulfill all the requirements of forensic photography and document the evidence in the best way possible, it is essential to use the following equipment:
You need to have a high-quality digital camera (with probably a 35mm lens). Also, cameras with manual exposure settings are necessary.
2. Standard Lens
You need a standard focus lens for forensic photography instead of a wide-angle lens. Wide-angle lenses distort the details of the crime scene. For example, a 28mm lens is wide for a 35mm digital camera.
3. Close-up Lens
To properly document the criminal evidence, you must use camera accessories or lenses that help enhance the focus. A macro lens helps capture minor details in an image. You can use 1:1 adapters or extension tubes as camera accessories.
4. The Need for Filters
Though crime scene photography should be carried out as close to reality as possible, some filters are required to enhance the evidence. A polarizing filter, for instance, is often needed when you need to capture through the glass and water. You can also use some colored filters to highlight certain small elements.
5. Electronic Flash
A flash plays an important part in capturing everything through a lens when the crime scene is all dark. Capturing an outdoor crime scene at night requires the use of electronic flash.
6. Remote Control for Flash
A remote control trigger is another essential accessory that allows the photographers to capture the scene in the best way possible without dealing with a wired trigger. With remote control trigger for electronic flash, you can capture the scene without any interruptions.
7. Notebook and Pen
When capturing a digital print of the crime scene, you also need to log in the details of the location with pen and paper. It is known as a photo log – which is necessary for logging in information about each captured photo. Often, numerous aspects of the photograph come in handy during the analysis of the images.
Conclusion – Importance of Forensic Photography in Judicial Procedures
Judicial procedures of investigation also rely majorly on the provision of photographic evidence. It eliminates the risks of conflicting statements and narratives so that the judiciary can make an unbiased decision.
Judicial procedures require crime scene photos to bring all the personnel involved in the investigation process on one page. Not all people visit or have access to the crime scene. Thus, forensic photography plays a vital role in carrying out investigations and finding out the real culprit. Owing to the significance of forensic photography in criminal investigations, the methods to preserve and record all the snaps are based on standardized protocols.
The photos are preserved in clear plastic bags so that no one messes up with the crime evidence. The images are also given identification so that they can be classified. No contamination with the photographic evidence is tolerated so that the items remain pure and unbiased.