Need for Accurate Records Described at IFPA Meeting
The 1981 annual conference of the International Fire Photographers Association was held June 24—27 in Collinsville, Ill.
Several speakers stressed the important role of fire photographers during investigations. This theme began with Dwight Elliot, deputy state fire marshal from Illinois, who described the necessity of accurate records in investigations and challenged photographers to always strive for accuracy.
The admission of photographic evidence was discussed by State’s Attorney Don Weber and Deputy State Fire Marshal Bob Corey, both from Illinois. They reminded the audience that laws differ from state to state, but photos should always accurately represent the scene as it was at the time the photo was taken. The photographer must then be able to testify to the facts so that the testimony is believed.
Need for credibility
Both speakers urged the audience to speak to prosecutors before a trial to avoid potential problems concerning evidence admissibility and methods of presentation. They indicated that establishing credibility as a witness is very important.
Tips for photographic coverage of any investigation scene came from IFPA Director Richard Wolfsen of Garfield, N.J. He suggested stopping down the lens two extra stops when using available light to photograph charred surfaces—in view of how light meters work based on the 18-percent grey card.
“Don’t experiment on the job,” cautioned Pat May of Pat-Mar Productions as he presented his multiprojector slide show. By standardizing all aspects of an investigation, the chances for costly error can be reduced, May believes.
A film, shown by Captain Joe Benyo, Westland, Mich., Fire Department, demonstrated how fire photographers can work with insurance companies for mutual benefit toward reducing arson. Benyo later gave a short talk on putting together single and multiprojector slide programs.
Much of what the conference attendees learned at the session last June 24-27 was given a practical test at a burn site set up by members of the Southern Illinois Arson Investigators Assoc. Fires were set and extinguished so the scene could be photographed as in an investigation. Then the house was completely burned and photographed in the process.
At the awards banquet, William Bongiorno and Edward Bunting were named master fire photographers by the association. Awards from the annual photography contest were also announced for several categories of entries from both attending and nonattending members:
Color fire: 1, William Bongiorno; 2, Keith Cullom; 3, Hardy Bryan; HM, Bill Eisner.
Color rescue: 1, none; 2, Keith Cullom; 3, James Olson; HM, William Burnham.
Color human interest: 1, William Burnham; 2, Hardy Bryan; 3, none; HM, Keith Cullom and Bill Eisner.
Black/white fire: HM, William Bongiorno and Kaye Bristow.
Black/white rescue: 1, Keith Cullom; 2, Dr. Warren Lutton; 3, William Bongiorno.
Black/white human interest: 1, Edward Bunting; HM, Keith Cullom.
Color slide: 1, Richard Wolfson; 2, William Bongiorno; 3, Keith Cullom; HM, Bill Eisner and Bill Burnham.
Slide story: 1, Keith Cullom; 2, Richard Wolfson.
Storyboard: 2, Dr. Warren Button.
Arson series: 1, James Olson. Competitors absent
Black/white human interest: 1, Robert Sherman; 2, Jim Peterek; HM, Steven Spak.
Color slide: 1, Henry Przybylowicz; 2, Bill Noonan; 3, Warren Fuchs; HM, Richard Cowan.
Slide story: 3, Steven Spak.
Storyboard: 2, Patrick Smith; 3, Jim Gilbride; HM, Jim Matthews.