A photograph of a raised paving slab being measured. The same technique would be used when taking a photo of a pothole. It shows a straight edge over the top of the raised edge and a tape measure from the straight edge to the ground.

How to: Take a Photo of a Pothole – After an Accident

How to: Take a Photo of a Pothole – After an Accident

Pothole photography might not be in vogue on Instagram, but if you’ve been injured in a tripping claim against the council, or any other landowner, it’s important to be able to take a good photo of a pothole – or uneven paving slab.

We want to share some tips from our experience as personal injury lawyers, to help you get photos which will help you in a claim for a slip, trip or fall.

Give a sense of scale

Photos don’t always show the true scale of their subject. We tend to find that potholes, and other trip hazards can often look smaller than they do in ‘real life’. There is something you can do to overcome this though.

You should include something in the image, next to the hazard, to give a sense of scale.

It needs to be something measurable. So, your foot, or fingers, will not help; people who don’t know you do not know how big these are. A tape measure is ideal – as long as the measurements are visible in the image. But failing that, a trusty 50 pence coin will work. A 50 pence piece is good because they measure just over an inch. And typically, one inch is the size an area of unevenness on footpath needs to be repaired; on a road it is two inches.

Make sure that you’re measuring properly too. You should measure from the ‘normal’ path/road level, to the top of the raised area. If the defect involves paving slabs, there can be a crack next to it, which goes below the level of the ground; make sure this doesn’t influence your measurements. On sloping areas of unevenness which gradually slope, you might need to put a straight edge over the higher level, so you can measure properly. As shown in the photo below.

A photograph of a raised paving slab being measured. The same technique would be used when taking a photo of a pothole. It shows a straight edge over the top of the raised edge and a tape measure from the straight edge to the ground.
Note how a straight edge has helped to avoid measuring to an area which is uneven and lower than the ground level.

The right time

The right time to take photos is as soon as possible. Firstly, because they need to show the defect in the condition it was in when you had your accident; and secondly, because you would hope that it will be repaired in the near future.

The right lighting

There’s only so much you can do with the lighting, but be mindful of how it’s impacting your photo and do what you can. Your photos need to be clear to people who are not necessarily familiar with the area.

In winter, short days can make getting enough light hard. Natural light is normally best, but any light is better than none; so use what you can to make sure your image is well lit. It’s much better to be lit with a torch, than to have a photo which is too dark to interpret.

On the other end of the spectrum, too much light can cast harsh shadows. When you’re trying to show a height differential, dark shadows can take precious details. If shadows are interfering with your image, try again at another time of day, when they’ll be cast in a different direction. Alternatively, or if they’re a result of artificial light, introduce some artificial light of your own – a camera flash will often work.

Dry weather

If you’re trying to show how deep a pothole is, the last thing you want is for it to be full of water. That’s not to say that this photo would always be useless; it might show how hard it was to see in certain conditions, and therefore caused your accident. But to demonstrate its size, we will need it to be free from water.

If you’re worried about it being repaired, by all means take a photo with water in it – it’s better than nothing. But make sure you go back as soon as the weather has improved, and get an unobstructed photo.

The best angle

The best angle, is multiple angles.

Nowadays, you don’t have to settle with asking your little high street solicitor to help you make a claim. You can ask a specialist, like Pryers. Gone are the days when the Solicitor had to go and see the area, and take photos themselves. With almost everyone having access to a high quality digital camera on their phone, anyone can do this. What’s more, digital means that taking lots of photos is not an issue either.

Still, some angles are better than others, so here’s some to make sure you get:

Ground level

An image from ground level, showing the measurement helps show the scale. It’s useful to have some images without the measurements too though – so an unobstructed view is also available.

Eye level

Although an image taken from eye level doesn’t help show the size, it helps with understanding how your accident happened.

From a distance

Similarly, images taken from a distance don’t help with getting a sense of scale, but they do help to paint a better picture of how your accident happened. As part of a collection that includes close ups, they can be really useful. Even if the trial takes place in a local court, there’s no guarantee the judge will live locally, or know the area. So, there’s no harm in providing extra information.

In the direction you were travelling

It’s most important to show the defect in the direction you were travelling. This shows how the hazard would have appeared to you.

Photos from other angles can help people who are not familiar with the area. But make sure it’s clear which way you were travelling. Marking your direction of travel on duplicates versions of some images is not a bad idea.

Ready to get started?

If you want to make a claim, and you’ve got your photos, you can email them to us. Our team will assess your claim and advise you for free if we can help you on a no win no fee basis. If you’d rather speak to a member of our team first, you can call us on 01904 556600; but to assess your claim fully, we will need to see photos of whatever has caused your accident.