Instructions for the Professional Photographer

These instructions are actually used by Attorney Kenneth Phillips‘ law office. The questions were received from photographers who photographed our clients:

“Do you want prints, files, or what?”

We need the original files.

Send them to us on a CD ROM.

The CD ROM must, must, must have the victim’s name on it, and the date of the session.

If there is no extra charge, also send us either a set of 4×6 prints OR something that looks like an old fashioned contact sheet.

“Which file format do you want? Do you want JPG, TIF, or RAW?”

JPG files suit us the best. TIF files are too big for us. BMP and RAW files are not useful to us at all.

“Which file size do you want? How many megapixels do you want?”

The size must be between four and six megapixels.

“How do you want the files organized on the CD ROM?”

We want one folder that contains 36 files, if you took 36 photos. We want only one version of each photo; do not give us a JPG, a RAW, a TIF, etc.

“Do you want studio light or natural light? What kind of lighting do you want?”

From amateur photographers, we want natural light. Take the photos in “open shade” — outside, on a sunny day, but making sure that no sun is hitting the victim or the background or anything else.

We always remind amateur photographers to do a perfect, custom white balance prior to taking the photo. If you don’t know what that means, look at your camera’s manual. If you don’t have the manual, use the “cloudy” setting on the camera itself.

From pro photographers, we would like studio light because it is more controllable.

It is mandatory for you to put your key light in THREE DIFFERENT POSITIONS DURING THE SHOOT! And it is mandatory for you to do a set of photos with a hard key light, and another complete set with a soft key light.

The reason I need the key light in three positions is that at certain angles the key light will make the scar almost disappear. This happens when the irregular skin reflects the key light back into the lens. When that reflection occurs, the irregular skin is overexposed. The overexposure hides the scar or that portion of it that became overexposed.

This has happened at least half the time from our professional photographers. It is incompetent to take scar photos without changing the position of the key light.

Similarly, scars have to be photographed in both harsh and soft light, from at least three angles. This is because some scars show up in one kind of light and not others.

A raised or depressed scar, for example, is best seen in harsh light. However, a scar with much irregular skin is best seen in soft light so that no part of the scar is overexposed. Scars featuring discoloration might be better in one light or the other. Softer light often is the best because the skin must be perfectly and evenly exposed, with fewer shadows, so that the color anomaly can be seen clearly.

“What do you want to focus on?”

Focus on the damaged skin, not on the eyes. It is the damaged skin that is important in these shots, not the eyes.

“Any special notes on the color saturation and white balance?”

Set the camera to true color, not portrait, not saturated. The white balance needs to be perfect so we can see the exact color of the scar and the exact color of the skin. Use no colored lights and no colored filters.

“What do you want in the photo? What should the photos show?”

This depends on where the bite wounds were.

If the injury is to the face, you must take photographs of the head, not the face. The entire head should show in all of the photographs. This means that we should be able to see space over the head, on each side of the head, and halfway down to the elbows.

There should be three photos take from directly in front, three from 45 degrees to the left, and three from 45 degrees to the right. If the injury is to the face, profiles from the right and left are not necessary unless the accident has damaged the profile.

If the injury is to the lips or near the lips, the lips must be slightly apart, from the center of the victim’s mouth all the way to each corner of his mouth. And the mouth must be relaxed, without expression.┬áStart with the mouth open to the point that the victim can feel that the lips are not touching at the CORNERS. Then for the second shot, the lips can BARELY touch at the corners. Then for the third shot, the lips can be a bit more closed BUT STILL APART. Remember: no expression in the face.

If the area is covered with bandages, take the shots of the bandages and then, if you can, take more shots of the wounds themselves.

In a facial injury case, the center of the camera lens has to be located straight in front of the tip of the victim’s nose. It must not be positioned higher or lower than that, even by an inch. The photo must not be looking up at him or looking down on him.

If the injury is to a part of the body other than the face, make sure that the first three shots show the entire surrounding region. There’s nothing more strange than seeing part of a limb in a photograph, because the viewer will have no idea how big the limb actually is, or who it belongs to. An arm injury should show the neck, entire chest, and hip. A leg injury should show the foot to the hip. A calf injury should show the foot to halfway between the hip and the knee.

Furthermore, we also need some shots that depict the wounded area and the corresponding area on the other side of the victim’s body. For example, if the hand was bitten, then we need photos that show both hands in the same frame, so we can compare them. If the leg was bitten, then we need photos that show both legs in the same frame.

“What should the victim be wearing? How should the victim look?”

Clean. No dirty face, dirty nose, dirty ears.

Shaved or hairless face, if an adult. No day-old beard on a man. No hair on the upper lip of a woman.

No make-up.

Conservative clothing — clothes that would be appropriate for a meeting at the bank, or for testifying at court. However, if the wounds were to an area that clothes would cover, then that particular clothing should be removed. If undergarments appear in the photograph, they too should be conservative, and the victim’s face should not appear in the same picture as the undergarments if possible. If the wounds are to the buttocks, thighs, breasts or another private area, there must be conservative clothing around it so that the victim appears modest. Conservative appearance even if the bite wounds are on the buttocks, thighs, breasts, etc. Nothing that would embarrass the onlooker or the victim, if it can be avoided. The victim must appear modest.

Body position should be natural and conservative. Unless it is physically impossible, the victim should be standing, even if the wounds were to the legs or feet.

Serious. The victim must not smile. No smiles except where the smile has been affected by the bite wounds.

Eyes looking straight ahead, with little or no expression. However, if the scars or wounds affect the victim’s smile or any other expressions, then there should be a series of photos in which the victim is smiling or making those expressions, so that there is a complete photographic record. Show the relaxed face and then the expression in adjacent shots.

No pressed lips. Mouth to be slightly open, relaxed — except in an “expression” photo.

No crying. No tears. No photos soon after crying.

Do not point at anything. Do not point at wounds.
No doggie images on clothes. No doggie in the photo.

No friends or family in the photo.

No jewelry or wristwatches should appear in the photo.