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Imaging Forensics: When to hire an expert

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George Reis

I was recently retained on a civil case just a month before the trial date. When called about the case, I was told that the firm never thought of hiring a forensic photographer until one showed up in opposing counsel's expert list. In this case, I needed to photograph the scene of an accident to depict what could be seen from a specific perspective, at a specific time of day, under specific lighting conditions. Although I was able to help in this case, this often is not enough time to properly match conditions. This attorney almost waited too long.

That case is over, and the attorney called to thank me for my work (his side won a fair settlement) and to indicate that he will bring me in earlier in future cases. He had never heard of using a forensic photographer before, and now sees the value of having one, and of bringing one in early enough to visually demonstrate through photographs the conditions of a specific event.

A forensic photographer will use the proper equipment, perspective, exposure, and printing technologies to depict the scene. Gaining access to the scene, arranging for lighting to match the conditions, matching sun and/or moon conditions (position as well as phase for the moon) may all need to be taken into consideration.

Bring your experts in early enough in the case to enable them to do a thorough job and to schedule their work for the best time to match conditions - which may be months away (or months ago).

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George Reis, of Imaging Forensics has provided expertise to Attorneys, Law Enforcement Agencies and Insurance Companies in the areas of Forensic Photography; Photographic Authentication, Enhancement and Analysis; and Forensic Video Analysis, for over twenty years. He also provides training in these fields.

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