Forensic photography, or the practice of taking photos at the scene of a crime, has been around for over a century.
One of the first famous crime scene photos was taken on May 5, 1903, in the home of a Parisian woman named Madame Debeinche who had been murdered. As investigators descended upon the apartment, one of them picked up a camera and photographed the scene.
The photographer focused on a few key details, like a tilted painting on the wall, disheveled bed linens, and overturned chairs. Even more importantly, he captured the body of Madame Debeinche sprawled on the floor by the side of her bed, her limbs bent at unnatural angles, the tips of her extremities darkening, showing hours had passed since she'd been killed.
At the time, the camera was still a relatively novel invention used mostly for posed portraits. It was certainly not used to capture something as horrifying as dead bodies — particularly bludgeoned ones.
And yet, it was rapidly discovered that these photos, as unsettling as they were, were incredibly useful when it came to investigating a crime. Investigators did their best to take notes and detail the scene, but certain aspects went unnoticed or were eventually forgotten. Photography fixed these shortcomings.
After the scene was cleaned up, any visual evidence was cleaned up with it. But with photos, the scene could be revisited time and time again, allowing new sets of eyes to pick out new details.