The Value of Forensic Photography

“This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are. It is factual evidence. Physical evidence cannot be wrong, it cannot perjure itself, it cannot be wholly absent. Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its value." - Dr. Edmond Locard 1942

Forensic photography is the method and practice of gathering and examining information about past events through the use of conventional and digital cameras. When evidence is accurately photographed by trained forensic photographers it may serve as an aid in crime and accident investigations. These images may also be useful in courtrooms as an aid for witnesses, victims and juries. Other types of noteworthy forensic photographic evidence may include images of suspected criminals, convicted criminals, victims, bystanders and other pieces of related evidence (bodies, fingerprints, weapons, blood stains, etc.). Forensic photographs can be used in relation to both criminal and civil law cases. Pennington & Associates’ private investigators provide forensic photography services in the Huntington West Virginia local area.

Forensic photographers are trained specialists, who are able to clearly capture and document the evidence in question in an unbiased manner. Crime or accident scenes must remain in pristine condition and intact until forensic photographers are able to arrive and document the evidence. This will ensure the most accurate and reliable information is captured and recorded. Forensic photographers must also comply with any protocols regarding the types of equipment they use to record and document evidence. Reliable forensic photographs must contain clear images and typically include observation of measurements, scale, perspective (from multiple angles) and close-ups. Forensic photographers must take into consideration the position and placement of evidence in relation to the scene as a whole. Evidence must also be photographed from multiple angles to prevent parallax.

Forensic photographers capture images with both digital and conventional cameras. Conventional cameras are typically able to provide greater image resolution than digital cameras. However, digital cameras are able to produce images at a fraction of the cost found in the use of conventional cameras. Digital cameras also automatically date and time stamp each image that is captured. Automatic date and time stamps can aid in the documentation and authentication of evidence later on in an investigation. As a result of the technological advances, law enforcement agencies have rapidly transitioning to digital technology and software. Forensic photographers are also trained to select the correct lighting and most appropriate lenses. Color images are generally used compared to black and white images, however forensic photographers will exercise discretion and determine the most appropriate format as situations vary.

Forensic photography is a complex and detailed orientated science, but if properly executed and recorded, may aid in the analysis of a criminal or civil investigation. Forensic photography should be practiced by trained professionals who are familiar with the necessary procedures to accurately capture evidence in an unbiased manner. Forensic photography also allows investigators to observe, study and truly understand evidence and may help them determine the sequence of events. Captured and documented accurately, these images will aid investigators, witnesses and bystanders, who may not be able to precisely remember or recall the evidence in question. Although crime and accident scenes must be cleaned up and returned to their original state, forensic photographs serve as accurate permanent records of the evidence.