This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Truthfulness And Accuracy. Where photographs of gaps or openings in the earth, holes in the ground, cracks in a wall, etc., are to be made in order to prove exactly the size of these openings, a measuring rule should be extended over the opening and this rule photographed in the scene. Where large openings are to be photographed, a long pole should be measured off in feet and placed over the opening. A two-foot rule, or even a yard-stick with registered scale of feet and inches, should be placed on the one end of the pole, to further prove its accuracy, and the photograph made of the opening with the pole or rule in the view.
606. In any case where the height or size is to be shown, a measuring rule should be admitted into the view, as in this way you avoid disputes as to the accuracy of the picture. In all cases make your photograph prove its accuracy. With photographs of this kind, and a memorandum of all necessary data regarding the photograph in your note-book, you have very valuable evidence which is unquestionable.
Photographing Accidents. The photographing of accidents requires that the photographer be alert and on the scene in an instant, if he would secure, approximately, a perfect record. Although all accidents do not result in suits for damages, yet such proceedings may occur, and if they do your photographs with their data will be of inestimable value. There have been many cases where the photographer has photographed railroad wrecks and accidents of various natures, without taking into consideration that they would ever be used as court evidence, but later, when a suit has been brought for damages, his photographs have been of vital importance either to the prosecution or the defense, who willingly paid large sums of money to secure them.
609. There have been cases in which photographers have received from five hundred to two and three thousand dollars for a single print. It is a very common occurrence that photographs of this kind bring one hundred dollars each. All depends upon the nature of the case and the amount of money involved, as well as the decisive value of the photograph. Therefore, a careful memorandum should be made of all important data pertaining to the accident in which the photograph figures, and the picture numbered vii - 14 to correspond with the data, being especially careful as to date and hour of the occurrence.
610. A recent railroad wreck on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, in Wisconsin, was photographed by an amateur who had very little experience in photography. He secured not only views showing the wreck in general, but also made an interior view of a mail car, which showed the damage done in it. The train crews, as well as individual parties, purchased many of these photographs, the result of which netted the amateur about $20.00.
611. A month later he received a letter from the attorney of the railroad, requesting a complete set of views of the wreck, and a check for $10.00 was enclosed. (A mail clerk who claimed to have been injured in the wreck, had brought suit against the railroad company.) The views were forwarded, and much to the surprise of the amateur photographer, a couple months later he received a telegram to go immediately to Chicago and take a set of the views with him. Transportation was provided by the railroad company, and the amateur testified in the Superior Court that he made the photographs. He was questioned upon certain points, but the most important fact in his testimony was that he made the photographs at 5:30 a. m., which was twenty-three minutes after the wreck occurred.
612. Further than this, he testified that in the interior view of the car, the man who stood in the corner washing his hands was the man bringing suit against the railroad company for $5,000 damages. At the time of the wreck, the mail clerk had been sleeping in his bunk above the mail pouches. His bunk was thrown to the floor, his head striking the corner of the frame which holds the pouches in position. He claimed that the injuries sustained necessitated his being removed on a stretcher immediately after the collision.
613. The photograph shows the man washing his hands, his back being toward the camera. His build and dress were recognized by other mail clerks. As the photograph was made twenty-three minutes after the wreck, when, according to the testimony of the prosecution, this gentleman was under the care of local physicians at a neighboring hotel, it was impossible for him to be at the hotel. It happened that the local physicians who attended a number of other patients at the time had made no record of their names, nor did they remember whether or not they had attended this individual. The photograph, therefore, proved conclusively that the injured mail clerk had not been taken to the hotel, as he claimed, and it also proved that he was able to stand up and wash his hands at the basin in the corner of the car.
614. The testimony of the amateur photographer, together with his pictures, therefore won the case for the railroad company. For his services the amateur photographer received besides all his expenses and a check for $100, a year's free transportation over their road.