We present a non-contact, reflective photoplethysmogram (PPG) imaging method and a prototype system for identifying the presence of dermal burn wounds during a burn debridement surgery. This system aims to provide assistance to clinicians and surgeons in the process of dermal wound management and wound triage decisions. We examined the system variables of illumination uniformity and intensity and present our findings. An LED array, a tungsten light source, and eventually high-power LED emitters were studied as illumination methods for our PPG imaging device. These three different illumination sources were tested in a controlled tissue phantom model and an animal burn model. We found that the low heat and even illumination pattern using high power LED emitters provided a substantial improvement to the collected PPG signal in our animal burn model. These improvements allow the PPG signal from different pixels to be comparable in both time-domain and frequency-domain, simplify the illumination subsystem complexity, and remove the necessity of using high dynamic range cameras. Through the burn model output comparison, such as the blood volume in animal burn data and controlled tissue phantom model, our optical improvements have led to more clinically applicable images to aid in burn assessment.