nor show objects out of focal range in their proper perspective. In such situations your crime scene sketch and
your notes will play strong supporting roles.
Providing a photograph's negative is usually enough proof to refute an allegation that a photograph has been
altered. However, if enlarged photographs are made for presentation in court, a contact print without borders
should also be made. Because scale, distances, and perspective are important in interpreting photographs taken at
crime scenes, include a ruler or other scale measure in such a photograph when you can. As some courts may not
allow even this minor modification to the scene, you also should take an identical photograph without the scale
A photograph to be high-quality evidence, must depict the scene, persons, and objects precisely as they
were found. Photography is an exclusive action in the crime scene search. No people may be working within the
scene at the time it is photographed. Any extraneous objects, like police and investigative equipment are
excluded from the photos.
Record the technical data for each photograph in your notes. Each photograph must be precisely identified.
This data becomes part of the permanent record of the case. A good way to do this is to create a photo log.
Assign each photo a number. Tell what each photo depicts. Cite the time the photo was taken, the type of photo,
and the distance to the focal point. Tell what camera was used and at what height it was held. Give the position
of the camera or angle of the camera shot. Say what lens was used, if flash was used or film reloaded, and
describe any photo overlays. In addition to recording identifying data in your notes, you must do so on a
All camera positions and distances to the focus point must be recorded on the crime scene photograph
sketch. You can do this by measuring from a point on the ground directly below the camera lens to an immovable
object used as the focus point for the picture. In making crime scene photographs, it is best to keep the camera at
about eye level. If an explosive was used at a crime scene and there is residue of the explosive present, do not use
a flash attachment. Use a tripod or raise or lower the camera height to get the object to be photographed in proper
focus. Take overlapping photographs of interior scenes intended to depict an area as a whole, moving in one
direction around the room or area.
The most important element in investigative photography is maintaining perspective. Photographs must
reproduce, with the same impression of relative position and size of visible objects, the scene as it would appear
to someone standing in the photographer's shoes. Any significant distortion in the perspective will reduce, or
destroy altogether, the photo's evidence value. The best way to maintain natural perspective is to aim the camera
so a 90-degree angle is formed by opposing walls. If outdoors, use fixed objects like trees to maintain
The chain of custody of investigative photographs is maintained in the proper case file. When you send
film by mail to a commercial processor, use