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See the 1800s Crime Scene Photos Taken by Parisian Detective ALPHONSE BERTILLON

Alphonse Bertillon

Crime scene photos are something I thought of as just taking pictures of a body. Ignorant, I know. Especially now that I’ve learned about the photographer who invented the mugshot, Alphonse Bertillon, a Parisian detective who joined the police force in 1879. In addition to his passion for policing, he was a biometrics researcher, and he invented ways of capturing physical measurements to ID criminals, as well as the distinctive profile and frontal mugshot style. More of his inventions included new ways to preserve footprints and ballistics evidence at a scene, as well as inventing the device known as the dynamometer to measure the force to break-in.

Alphonse Bertillon modelling his mugshot style

In the 1800s, death was a sacred rite, and it was considered disrespectful to photograph dead bodies in the state they were at crime scenes. They hadn’t been cleaned and dressed up, they were disheveled from defending themselves and laying exactly as they were killed. Bertillon believed it was vitally important to capture the bodies as they were found, so the photographs could be examined in-depth by detectives. His photos started proving themselves valuable to the Parisian police force. By 1884, Bertillon became known for his distinctive style of crime scene photography, which then became standard procedure for police forces around the world.

Below you can check out a large gallery of Bertillon’s crime scene photos, and travel back to the beginnings of crime scene photography…

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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