“CSI Photography: In The Beginning…”

Bertillon poses for the mugshot he invented in 1888 - an example of early CSI photography
You may be a long-time binge watcher of CSI – the original series, CSI Miami, CSI New York, or the myriad of other crime-scene-investigation variations.

If so, hopefully I’ve caught you during a commercial break, during which I’d like to introduce you to another CSI – the first, the original Bertillon-System, wait for it…CSI Paris!

Say a posthumous “Bonjour” to Frenchman Monsieur Alphonse Bertillon. Bertillon was one of the first people to introduce CSI photography into the job description of detectives. Bertillon joined the Paris police in 1879 as a copyist – a position famous for the necessity of exacting detail on the copyist’s part. Bertillon gradually became more and more frustrated with the poor record-keeping in the police department, so in his spare time, he began developing better investigative methods.

Bertillon was among the first to realize the importance of CSI photography, and to add it to his detective work. By 1884, he was known across Europe for his CSI photography.

He invented the mugshot in 1888, which is still used today around the world. The photos used standardized lighting then, as they still do, today! When Bertillon's CSI photography started appearing, it was initially considered disrespectful and "ghoulish" to photograph deceased victims.

Early glimpses of CSI photography by Bertillon However, Bertillon recognized that CSI photography was paramount in helping to document the full (excuse the pun) picture of a crime scene, above and beyond a lone esoteric motive. CSI photography, as gruesome as it may have been perceived by some, gave clues to the crime through the victim’s body position, any murder weapon in the picture, footprints and personal effects that could all show up in a photo. Elements like these, captured in Bertillon’s CSI photography, gave invaluable clues to solving cases.

Early glimpses of CSI photography by Bertillon the SDFI Negative Invert Filter in action!

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same:

Bertillon attempted to be as thorough as possible, hence his development of a measuring scale along the edges of his CSI photography (see left photo, 1905, taken in Paris, of a murdered Monsieur Falla).
Compare that to the the photograph below, captured with SDFI-TeleMedicine's Standard Forensic Camera System, using a L-shaped photomacrographic scale to document injury. The global application of the SDFI Negative Invert Filter a forensic tool (on the right half of the photo) helps users see better.

Below, a protocol is being used to photograph a corpse, before its autopsy. Unlike Bertillon’s development of the mugshot, his nine-measurement technique gave way to today’s fingerprinting methods.

CSI Photography with Bertillon Early Method

Among another one of Bertillon’s inventions was the Dynamometer – a device which measured the amount of force used during a break-in.

Besides Bertillon’s CSI photography and other forensic inventions, the world around him was changing, too. The press was in its infancy, and became very useful in making public appeals for killers. His scientific methods and the success of his CSI photography became the envy of the world. He even got a positive mention by one of Sherlock Holmes’ clients in the book, “The Hound of the Baskervilles”!

Bertillon died in 1914 in Paris, but the legacy of his CSI photography methods lives on today, as well as memories of his other forensic measurement processes.

Look! Your commercials have ended – it’s back to the show! However, as you watch the contrived plots and drama, give a thought now and then to Monsieur Bertillon and all he did to help CSI Photography! Then check out SDFI-TeleMedicine!

Watch Video Introduction to the SDFI-TeleMedicine System.
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