Friday, April 8, 2005
Volume 4, Issue 14

(Short Excerpts from the Full Original Article:)

GETTING THE MONEY SHOT
Professional Photographers Can Add a Winning Edge to Evidence

BY STEVE SEIDENBERG

Technology is a wonderful thing—just ask any lawyer who has ever whipped out a digital camera phone and sent a quick snapshot of key evidence back to the office.

So when it comes to photographing an accident scene, injury or other important evidence, why bother bringing in a professional photographer? Simple, say many lawyers: It might mean the difference between winning and losing a case.

That proved true for Wayne Grant, a veteran litigator in Atlanta. Although Grant is an avid photographer who owns top-of-the-line digital cameras and video equipment, he says professional photographers "see things differently and document things differently than even experienced attorneys." That distinction, he says, recently played a key role in helping him obtain a seven-figure settlement for a client.

Not all professional photographers, however, are adept at creating demonstrative evidence. "There’s a lot of difference between a portrait photographer and a legal-evidence photographer," says Thomas Malone, an Atlanta litigator. "If you have somebody that deals with legal evidence every day and all day, he can teach you something, as opposed to you having to teach the photographer something. For instance, a portrait photographer might not understand the foundation requirements for night vision photos."

Of course, hiring a professional photographer costs a bit more than doing it yourself: The hourly fee for shooting photos can run from $95 to $200, and complicated requests like precision aerial photos cost more. There’s also a separate charge for creating prints, and the fees go up with the print size.

Some lawyers balk at paying these fees, even though the costs are usually passed along to clients. "There are lots of attorneys who are penny-wise and pound foolish when it comes to photos," Grant says. He adds that if a lawyer has a solid case, "it will only become more solid if you can enlist the aid of a professional in creating your demonstrative evidence."

2005 ABA Journal


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