How good crime scene photos help tell the story of the incident


Article updated on October 6, 2017

It is the investigator’s job to relay the events of the crime in the best possible manner. Crime scene photos help to tell a story. A good set of photos can help those involved in the investigation find out what took place, and also help outsiders such as a jury see the whole picture, so to speak.

PHOTOS SHOULD CAPTURE ALL ACTION ON SCENE

Since crime scene photography essentially retells the scene of the crime, nothing should be missing from the story. (Photo/Pixaby)
Since crime scene photography essentially retells the scene of the crime, nothing should be missing from the story. (Photo/Pixaby)

Since crime scene photography essentially retells the scene of the crime, nothing should be missing from the story.

For example, if an investigator were photographing a burglary scene, photograph the point of entry, followed step by step (to the extent possible) of everywhere the suspect went from there.

Capture each element of the scene on film. If the suspect broke in through a window and knocked over a stack of books, photograph the books as well as the window. This is the case for each step along the trail. If an object as small as a pencil is knocked off a table, photograph that pencil. 

Every photo should link together to create an overlap effect, meaning that each photo connects with each other. For instance, if the first shot includes the window where the suspect entered, the next photo should include the window, but focus on the next object. From there, the trail should continue, all the while including one object from the previous photo. This is crucial for putting the pieces of the crime scene puzzle together. 

For certain cases, aerial photos are required to bring the whole scene into one shot. 

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

Another key factor when it comes to crime scene photography is the need for urgency. As soon as the police are involved, the scene should be photographed. This is done promptly so that no potential evidence is disturbed. 

YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY PHOTOS

When it comes to taking photographs at a crime scene, the investigator should take as many photos as they can. It is best to have too many photos rather than not enough. After all, once the scene is cleared, evidence is removed and the original crime scene no longer exists. It is best to capture each element in the most detailed way possible.

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