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Crime Scene Photography-Past and Present

By: Hilary Rodela, Lead Digital Content Writer for Taction USA

Crime Scene photos are extremely helpful for investigation whether it be a current, open case or a cold one. The history of crime scene photography is interesting and proves that crime scene photography has improved greatly. 

Presently, investigators have numerous tools when it comes to processing and documenting a crime scene. CSI’s use everything from a “point and shoot” camera that is digital, to an advanced digital camera, to 3D scanners that come in a suitcase or may be handheld.

Crime Photos-The Early Days

Some of the photographs used in law enforcement were those taken of prisoners.  In Belgium 1851 the practice of taking photos of inmates became protocol, however photography as a whole in the world of law enforcement has enhanced and is now used in just about every instance. 

In 1903, the use of cameras to document crime scenes became increasingly accepted for law enforcement agencies. Though police officers were taken standard crime scene photos, Alphonse Bertillon, a Parisian Criminalist saw the value of taking a mugshot in addition to scene photos. Though photos of inmates were already being taken in the mid 1800s, Bertillon noticed the helpfulness of taking photos of the inmates straight on plus to the side. This way all disguising features could be seen. Bertillon was also one of the prime criminalists to document other identifiers such as scars, tattoos, and other unique characteristics an individual may have. 

Bertillon also saw the significance in photographing crime scenes room by room, in an orderly fashion. Instead of taking photos at random that may be difficult to piece together late, he came up the idea to take photos of a crime scene in a particular order so that investigators could literally piece them together. He also began to use certain lighting and a tripod to get the best photos possible. These are all of course practices we use today. 

Stay tuned for Part II of Crime Scene Photography Past and Present…

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