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Photographing Bodies and Wounds, Part 2

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The first post for January 2022–WELCOME TO THE NEW YEAR!!

Evidence Photography

Last month, I presented some special considerations when documenting wounds. Specifically, light requirements when documenting homicide victims. In case you missed it, I covered two techniques, diffusion of a direct flash and manipulating the f-stop setting, that should be used to overcome the exposure tendency when photographing skin.

This month, let’s discuss the photographic requirements required of homicide victims. Just like any other item of evidence, the photographic documentation of a body should include midrange photography, relating the body to fixed features of the crime scene.

A complete panorama of the body should be included as a series of photographs:

  • full view of the body, right side
  • full view of the body left side
  • full view of the body, from feet towards the head
  • full view of the body, from the head towards the feet
  • full view of the body from overhead
  • full-face view for identification

Observe the neck area for bruising, scratches, and ligatures. In addition, check the hands and wrists for defense wounds, injuries, hesitation marks, trace evidence, gunshot residue, and items clutched in the hands. Note any indicators of postmortem interval lividity (rigor, decompositional changes, or entomological developments).

Before the body is rolled, photograph items of evidence around the body in relation to the body and hands, along with identifying features, such as visible tattoos, marks, pre-existing scars, moles, and any other unique skin features.

~Terri


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