Photographing protocols - morgue

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Photographing protocols - morgue

Sophie
Hello!

I am doing a some studying and have a couple of questions if anyone has time to answer them!

As I don't know protocols for photographing people when they enter the morgue before a post-mortem is carried out will the photographs of them (and their wounds if they have any) be labelled?

I have seen a photo of a person in the morgue in the 1960s and there is what looks like a ruler shaped sign on them but it wasn't their name, it was apparently the photographers name.
This confused me as I would imagine when documenting the body it made sense to only label it with the name of the deceased.

Do you know whether this is a regular occurrence or maybe I am looking at a mislabelled body (I can't see the head in some photos, but they all bear the same name which isn't apparently the dead person).

I hope I've made sense as I would like to clear this up as it is something that has piqued my interest.

If you are able to help or recommend someone who can I would be very grateful

Yours
Sophie
Jay
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Re: Photographing protocols - morgue

Jay
Sophie:

While every jurisdiction is different in their practices, I'll give you some info based on my experience.  My work in forensics has been limited to local Sheriff's offices, but in the event that an autopsy was conducted, the main purpose (for us) was to document the condition of the body, injuries, tattoos, etc.  Photos were generally taken prior to the autopsy unless there was something "medically relevant" to document (internal injuries, etc.), or in the case of a homicide where there was a much more thorough documentation.  In these situations, a scale of any type was allowed by the Sheriff's Office so long as size could be determined for subsequent 1:1 representation if requried.  It wasn't required that agency information, case number, or technician was labeled on the scale.  In contrast, the Medical Examiner's office employed investigators whom would attend autopsies in certain circumstances as well (mainly homicide).  Per their policy, every photograph was required to include a placard bearing their case number (which differed from agency case number).  I would imagine the photographs you're referencing were taken per the same type of requirements, only to include the name of the technician/photographer.  With digital media becoming more and more common, it is easier to download case photographs and designate a photographer in the software program; the use of case cards/photo placards may only occur at the very beginning of the series of photographs, and photo logs are most likely on their way out (if not already).  Again, this is merely my personal experience and every agency has its own policies regarding these practices.

Jay
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Re: Photographing protocols - morgue

Sophie
In reply to this post by Sophie
Wow!

Thanks Jay for taking the time to reply.
I guess as I am not in that world, my logic would reason that the person on the slab would be the name on the sign (I am thinking of a 1960s pre-digital case) as well as their allocated number.
For me it was a surprise that the technician / photographer's name would be on the sign and not the deceased.
But you learn something new every day!

Sophie