Ask any forensic photographer and he or she will likely tell you that the introduction of digital imaging has been the single most important advancement in the history of forensic science. This swing into the digital era has changed the face of photography and consequently the need for an updated perspective when planning facilities for a photography section. This article asks several key questions that should be answered in this process.
What types of photography are you employing and how do they impact your facility design?
Creating a space dedicated solely to photography may be hindering your laboratory’s other space requirements. An area can serve as a true photography suite but also be used for large item evidence examination and ALS/laser enhancement of latent prints. A flexible area could have a large central table for the examination (and photographing) of evidence. The inclusion of ALS/laser equipment would allow for fingerprint examinations and photography. No light/ low-light control would further facilitate using the space as a working studio and examination room.
Regardless of the camera(s), equipment, and accessories that exist in your photo kit, storage will always be an issue. Cameras and lenses not in use should be kept in cases to protect them from environmental contaminants. Tripods and stabilizing devices can quickly accumulate.Wall hooks would be a good option for storing camera supports, but be sure that they are hung in low-traffic areas.
Lighting is essential in photography. Consider collapsible studio lights with floor stands that can be used in the lab or the field. A more advanced studio may include fixture lighting with remote controls for added versatility. Wall bars for mounting articulated arms for cameras/accessories and a ceiling-mounted track system with flexible drop-downs can achieve optimal positioning of cameras and overhead studio lights.
Photography utilizing specialized lighting (ex. alternate light sources - ALS) is particularly valuable. As previously mentioned, creating a multi-function suite can increase your laboratory’s efficiency. Wired ALS units will run on a standard electrical outlet. Hand-held ALS units may be rechargeable or run on batteries. If the ALS you employ is to be mounted in the room, proper placement of electrical outlets and mounting shelves or brackets must be considered.