Crime scene photographers, also known as forensic photographers, record crime evidence on film. They respond to crime sites to photograph objects, as well as entire settings. Their photographic documentation can be crucial to preserving the crime scene digitally for future reference. The photos may provide possible clues as to what might have happened during the crime. Crime scene photographers may also send the pictures to crime laboratories for analysis. Furthermore, law enforcement professionals involved in investigating the crime use the photos as forensic evidence. During a trial, the attorneys, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel can use the crime scene photos as lawful evidence.
In scientific crime scene investigation, the first activities at the crime scene are essential for the successful preservation of the physical evidence. The first responder and ultimately the crime scene investigator have the obligation to make the scene secure and ensure that any further activities at the scene do not change the evidence.
First, you need to earn your high school diploma. You may then earn an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice at a local community college. Most police departments do not require a degree, so this is optional in most cases. Becoming a police officer is one way of gaining experience in law enforcement before branching into crime scene photography. Crime scene photographers almost exclusively work with law enforcement.
Depending on your expertise in digital photography, you may need an Associate’s degree in photography. You can obtain this online or at a community college in your area. This degree will teach you more than just photographic skills. Typically, there are general courses in social science, English composition, and humanities. The concentration courses involve digital photography, the business of photography, lighting, basic design, and color theory.
An Associate of Science in Photography degree program prepares graduates to pursue entry-level positions in the diverse world of photography. The program may emphasize the development of fundamental composition, technical and problem-solving skills needed to produce competent imagery. You will also learn about the development of the communication and business skills that can help students compete in the real world.
An associate’s degree may be sufficient to hone your skills in digital photography. At the next level, a bachelor’s degree in forensic investigation will benefit your career. This degree will expand your knowledge of crime scene investigation. Core forensic science courses include crime scene investigation, DNA analysis, fingerprint analysis, ballistics, biology, computer science, and others designed to help the student learn the skills necessary to work in a crime lab. This program will involve more sciences and lab work as you become fluent in analyzing crime scenes for evidence and the collection of blood samples, for example.
A bachelor’s degree in forensic science will provide more career opportunities. Graduates of a forensic science degree program can go on to apply their education in various roles within law enforcement, government, and the private sector. Some examples of other jobs you can get with a forensic science degree include:
- Blood Spatter Analyst
- Computer Forensics Investigator
- Crime Lab Analyst
- Crime Scene Investigator
- Forensic Science Technician
There are online training courses for purchase that teach you about digital crime scene photography. The National Forensic Science Technology Center at Florida International University offers a Digital Crime Scene Photography course will help you capture fair and accurate photographic documentation of any scene. This course covers digital camera basics and lighting strategies, as well as methods to capture impression evidence and bloodstain images. The Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board have approved this online course. This cost is $79.
The International Association for Identification offers a Forensic Photography & Imaging Certification. You must meet specific requirements, one of which is a minimum of two (2) years of experience in photography as an examiner, analyst, practitioner, or supervisor in the discipline of forensic science.
Technical Training Required:
- A minimum of eighty (80) hours of classroom training, or equivalent, in photography-related subjects as follows:
- 40-hours of basic or advanced hands-on photography courses, no time limit
- 40-hours of forensic-specific hands-on photography courses within the previous 5 years
- Up to 8-hours of training in the discipline of forensic-specific image processing can make up a portion of the 40-hours required in this subsection
The written test consists of questions, including, but not limited to, the history of photography, basic photography principals, digital imaging basics, advanced camera controls, proper use of lenses, exposure theory, depth of field, light theory, lighting techniques, filters and color control, and close-up photography. A minimum passing score is 75%.