This week's blog is inspired by a student's question about photography at crime scenes.

Student Question: Is there a basic step by step process to capture exterior scenes when coming to a scene?

  1. Although each scene is different from others, basic photographic documentation can be broken down to the following steps:
  2. Be sure to take note of and document all environmental information (rain, hot, clear, etc)
  3. Photograph address of location or street signs of intersections
  4. Photograph the scene in a spiral formation (overall photos); starting from an extreme position working your way to the center of the crime scene in a circular pattern.
  5. Be sure to photograph all of the environment, being careful not to damage fragile evidence (impression evidence, possible blood stains, etc).
  6. Do not move anything within the crime scene when taking overall photographs except doors to enter rooms and/or cabinets.
  7. Intermediate photographs should be taken.
  8. Photograph all vehicles within the scene. Generally, all 4 sides and license plate should be captured (this is standard). Photograph interior (when possible) of vehicle, undercarriage, and engine compartment.
  9. Lay number placards out identifying all evidence.
  10. Re-photograph the scene showing evidence markers and evidence relationship within the scene.

If you want to become a crime scene investigator, the one piece of advice is: KNOW YOUR CAMERA. Read your camera manual and practice, practice, and practice. You must develop a working knowledge of basic photography techniques. If you understand photography is simply the manipulation of light, you can learn how to increase or decrease light to your scene. Proper light control results in proper exposure.

To learn more, visit and follow me on Twitter @forensic187.