Forensic Photographer

If you’re looking for a photography career that lets you create beautiful, artistic images for people to admire then forensic photography definitely isn’t the career for you.

But in many respects the forensic photographer has the more challenging job. While people might think at first that it’s easy to go in and shoot a crime scene, there is far more pressure on forensic photographers to do a good a good job than in any other field of photography.

But before we go into more detail about those responsibilities, it’s probably a good idea to talk about what forensic photography is and how you go about entering a career as  a forensic photographer.

What Is Forensic Photography?

The job description for a forensic photographer is simple enough.

Forensic photography (also referred to as crime scene photography or forensic imaging) is the job of taking photographs of a crime scene to provide an accurate representation of what was witnessed by the investigators on the scene.

This is a vital part of the overall evidence collection process and as such must follow the usual chain of custody protocol required with any form of evidence.

The Challenges Of Forensic Photography

Just because there is no artistic value placed on these photographs, doesn’t mean they can be captured by any average Joe with a camera. Here are some of the challenges faced in forensic photography.

Clarity

Obviously if these photos are going to be used as evidence, or to assist in a criminal investigation, then the forensic photographer has to make sure that the photos are high quality.

This means that they need to be able to take clear and accurate photographs in situations where they may not have a whole lot of control over the lighting and other factors like they normally would on a photo shoot.

As such they need to be highly skilled in all the technical aspects of photography such as exposure, use of lenses, light meters, perspective and so on.

Different Viewpoints

To capture a truly accurate representation of the crime scene it’s important for the forensic photographer to ensure they take photos from all possible view points.

It is only by covering all angles in this way, that someone looking at the photos without the benefit of having seen the crime scene in person, can gain a true understanding of the layout of that crime scene.

Procedure

A forensic photographer has to be far more organized in their approach than virtually any other kind of photographer.

They must make sure that they capture every possible detail that could be required at some stage of the investigation.

This requires the forensic photographer to know and use a routine for each job as well as specific routines for certain types of crime and crime scene settings that help them in this task.

How To Become A Forensic Photographer

So if you think that you have what it takes to become a forensic photographer, the next thing you need to know is what sort of training is required to work in the field.

Forensic Photography Schools

For the majority of careers in the field of forensics, having some sort of degree is a minimum requirement, with many jobs needing much more advanced eduction up to and including Masters and Doctorate level degrees.

But as is stands right now there aren’t any forensic photography degree programs that you can enroll in to give you an edge in the industry.

Forensic Photography Training

But just because there aren’t any degree level options available doesn’t mean there aren’t any forensic photography training programs you can use to gain the skills and experience you need.

The sort of training you need will most likely depend on your current level of experience in photography.

If you’re already an accomplished photographer, then you probably don’t have much to learn in terms of the technical aspects of the craft.

You will however need to educate yourself on the ‘forensic’ aspects of forensic photography i.e the legal and procedural requirements of the job.

Alternatively you can simply acquire these skills through on-the-job training by working alongside an experienced forensic photographer.

But if you’re starting from scratch with zero experience as a photographer than those skills will obviously also need to be learned first.

Forensic Photography Courses

While there aren’t a huge number of courses out there fore forensic photographers, there are a few options available.

These courses range from online learning options to seminars and workshops offered by universities and other organisations like the FBI or local police academies.

Forensic Photography Jobs & Career Prospects

As long as there is crime there is always going to be a need for forensic photography.

Like many other career choices, forensic photography jobs can initially be a challenge to break into, but as long as you can prove that you have the necessary skills, and that you’re an organized person who can do an outstanding job of capturing the details of a crime scene, then you should be able to achieve success if this becomes your chosen field.

 

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