PHOTOGRAPHING HUMANS FOR EVIDENCE
Photographs should be taken of victims or suspects of crimes like assault, aggravated assault, or sex
offenses that involve bodily harm. Photographs should be taken of any wound, injuries, stains, or other trace
evidence that may be on the person or the person's clothing. Written permission should be obtained from living
persons before photographing them. If photographs of a body area that is normally clothed are required, a witness
should be present. If the victim or the suspect is a minor, the written consent of the parent or guardian is needed.
The photography must be done with the consenting person present.
Photographs of parts of the body that usually are not visible when a person is clothed are taken only under
the direct supervision of the examining physician. It is the physician's testimony that the photographs are
intended to illustrate. Thus, it is unusual for this type of photograph to be taken at the crime scene.
The evidence value of a photograph of a deceased person is reduced if you include views that could later be
alleged to be deliberately inflammatory. The unneeded exposure of sexual organs is a case in point.
Take at least two, full-length photographs of the body at 90-degree angles to each other. Hold the camera
as high as possible, pointing downward toward the body. Include at least one closeup photograph of the head and
shoulders of the victim. Position the camera for this shot directly above the head and shoulders of the body. Take
as many closeups of the body as needed to show wounds and injuries. When photographing a body that is lying
in a horizontal position, hold the camera directly over the victim's head and shoulders. Do this at a height of no
less than 5 feet. Closeup photographs of injured parts of the body are most effective in color, but black and white
The presence of wounds, blood, or other discolorations on the corpse may affect identification. Using a
lens filter to create more lifelike tones may aid identification.
Photographs of the body during the autopsy should also be taken. Cooperate with the pathologist to obtain
these. Your photos should include full-length views before and after undressing and/or washing. Photograph
identifying marks and closeups of all wounds with and without a measuring device. Both color and black and
white photos should be taken.
Properly prepared sketches may be used to question people, to prepare a report of investigation, and to
present information in court. Sketches also are valuable sources of information for trial and defense counsels.
Sketches are often introduced in court as evidence. They are used to acquaint the court with crime scenes and to
help witnesses orient themselves as they testify.