Photography at a crime
scene is of critical importance because there is only a short period of time
that a scene is preserved in the original state. It is important to
photograph all evidence before anything at the crime scene is moved, except
in cases where a victim needs medical attention. If evidence is moved
before photographs are taken, their value is lost since it may not be
admissible later during the trial process. The use of video cameras
also falls under this category, and many times both are used for the same
An overall view of the crime scene is necessary to establish the location of
evidence or a body in relation to other aspects of the scene.
Therefore, photographs are usually taken of the area where the crime
actually took place from several angles to provide a complete view of the
evidence for later use. Areas surrounding the crime scene are often
photographed, including aerial views in cases where this information might
be relevant. Since there have been many instances of offenders hanging
around the crime scene, it is also recommended by Geberth (1996) to
Medium range photographs are taken of important details of the crime scene.
These may include the body, where the weapon was found, signs of a struggle,
area of entrance, or anything else that may later be relevant to
understanding what happened. Medium range shots provide more detail
than the overview shots, however there is one more step or series of photos
that need to be taken.
Close-ups are also taken of wounds, weapons, and other evidence to record
important details. It is important to photograph all fingerprint and
impression evidence before trying to collect it, in case it is destroyed
during the process. When it becomes necessary to indicate the size of
evidence, a ruler or something that will give scale to the item is inserted
into the frame of the picture.
Everything I have read about crime scene photography states that it is a
process of taking the photos from general to specific, yet many times
sources provide differing suggestions about equipment, or what shots are
most important. I have found Geberth's (1996) book to be very
beneficial in understanding the process, however there are more complete and
specific texts available about crime scene photography. The most
important point however seems to be, document the crime with the photographs
and be as complete as possible.