Use of photography in crime detection began with French photographer Alphonse Bertillon. Bertillon used photographs of convicted criminals alongside a series of the criminal’s physical measurements as a reference for police to use like a modern day computer database. He also realized that without a proper frame of reference for photographs taken at crime scenes they would be useless in themselves for crime solving purposes.
It is this early forensic photography and detailed measurements and reference notes that Cook County coroner Dr. Enoch Watkins uses in the new Diamond and Doran mystery, Tontine, out this summer.
Photography was well known by the 1880s. During the American Civil War, Matthew Brady showed it was a valuable way to bring important events to the world at large eager for news of how the war was going.
By the end of the 19th century the photograph was beginning to creep into newspapers until the photographer was a common sight at any and every notable occasion.