Crime Scene Photographers have been an integral part of criminal investigations since photographies earliest days. For the better part of a century, photographers have been combing through crime scenes and trying to capture every angle in the hopes of apprehending criminals. Hundreds, even thousands of photographs can be taken at one crime scene and have proven helpful to law enforcement officials in the past.
However, once a case is closed, the photos do not just disappear. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has photo archives that date back as far as the 1920’s and act as a historical catalogue of the LAPD’s investigatory efforts over the years. They can be seen at the city records center in downtown Los Angeles to this very day.
For Julien Frydman, a member of the Los Angeles based art and photography group fototeka, these pictures are more than just simple historical record. Frydman, alongside his fototeka compatriots Robin Blackman and Merrick Morton, searched through the archives and compiled a selection of over 80 images taken between 1920 and the 1960s.
Called, “Unedited! The LAPD Photo Archives” the exhibition was intended to help viewers immerse themselves in some of the complex stories related to the crime scenes and help them to admire the artistic merit and intent of the original photographers.
For fototeka, presenting the real pictures as art puts them into a middle space somewhere in between fiction and reality, an artistic contrast that will hopefully resonate with the viewing public.
More than just art, fototeka is also intent on preserving the photos. While sifting through the archives, Frydman and company discovered that many of the photographs were printed on extremely flammable cellulose nitrate negatives. The photos were ordered to be destroyed, but fototeka campaigned to have them only selectively destroyed, saving countless images in the process.
The images are still on display on the fototeka website and continue to be exhibited.