Forensic photography is a field that many people know a little bit about due to the popularity of many crime and law enforcement shows on television today. Most people, however, don’t fully understand the significance of a professional forensic photographer and the implications of not having one. Once that is clear, the reason for the education and training to become a forensic photographer becomes very clear. All it takes to get started is Computer Forensics Fundamentals. Read on for an all-encompassing analysis of forensic photography, the skills and education required, and its evolution in the field of law enforcement.
What is Forensic Photography?
Forensic photography, also called crime scene photography, combines both science and art for the purpose of preserving images and evidence at a crime or accident scene that can be used by law enforcement to articulate the various elements of the crime or accident that occurred. Crime scene photography is done prior to and as a part of the process of collecting evidence and images taken by the forensic photographer become a part of the case’s evidence record.
Forensic photographers must be capable of identifying and accurately capturing a wide range of subjects on behalf of law enforcement. This can include evidence found at a crime scene such as foot prints, bullet casings, blood and more. It can also include evidence in and on a vehicle, a person, a body, in a home, and more. Tracing the evidence back in time is made easier by taking Surviving Digital Forensics: Volume Shadow Copy.
Upon photographing evidence, a forensic photographer must also then provide an evidence log to correspond with the image, documenting the item that was photographed as evidence, its location and time it was photographed and a comprehensive description of the image. This step is critical to the process because if the case were to go to court, the photographs could become crucial evidence. Documenting the chain of custody, or rather evidence that has not left law enforcement control from the time collected is imperative to making a solid case against a suspect in criminal proceedings. Of course, you want to make sure you have an excellent understanding of The Fundamentals of Photography.
Training and Education to become a Forensic Photographer
As previously mentioned, forensic photography combines the art of photography with the science of crime scene investigation and forensic analysis. This requires forensic photographers have adequate education and training to be successful in the field. Basic photography skills are required, which teaches the student how to compose photographs and use the right equipment, angles and lighting to best capture the images. Additional education and training will teach a prospective crime scene photographer how to bring out the images of difficult to capture evidence such as fingerprints, tire prints, boot prints, and much more. Learning how to photograph in low light and other challenging environments is also a necessity. Taking images in tight quarters and from several images is a must.
Crime scene photographers generally are required to have education in crime scene investigation, to include how to view a crime scene and not disturb evidence. Forensic photographers have to be able to enter a scene and document the evidence without disrupting the scene and compromising the value of the items of evidentiary significance.
A simple online search will tell you the colleges and universities that offer degrees in forensic photography. Many larger law enforcement agencies offer in-house certification for skilled crime scene photographers that have a degree in criminology, biology, and other related fields who can demonstrate proficiency as a forensic photographer in a real life setting.
Because of the exposure to a variety of crime scenes and accident scenes, it is important to consider the element of stress if considering a career as a forensic photographer. Prior to embarking on a career in forensic photography, it’s important to give serious thought to whether or not you can be exposed to crime scenes, death and violence as well as have a plan for dealing with this stress in a healthy manner.
Many forensic photographers will tell a novice that to best deal with the crime scene, it is best to enter the scene with a preset plan to document it. Following these processes every time you work can help you cope with the stress of violent scenes by giving you a known procedure to follow. For example, most forensic photographers start by documenting the scene from a distance, getting all of the images from several angles before working their way to the smaller details in the scene. This helps to not only tell the story of the crime, but also helps the photographer to stay focused on the task of documenting the scene rather than to focus on the scene itself. Time, experience and training under senior forensic photographers will help a novice to establish these procedures and develop ways to cope with the stress of photographing crime scenes and accident scenes.
Find Employment as a Forensic Photographer
Entry level forensic photographers can expect a salary to start in the mid $20,000 to mid $30,000 range working for a police department or law enforcement agency. Keep in mind that most positions as a forensic photographer are part time and on call or are freelance and on a contract basis. The salary does not reflect full time work and many forensic photographers can work freelance or on contract for multiple agencies or firms at one time. Government and public institutions generally offer benefits and lower pay rates while working freelance and for private agencies will routinely pay more, but not offer benefits.
If you have the desire to become a forensic photographer, it can be a very rewarding career. Gathering and documenting the evidence to help solve a crime and bring justice to victims can be an extremely fulfilling career, while offering the flexibility to work freelance or part time. Take the time to research the appropriate training and education while also considering the stress elements and when possible, seek out an internship with a local agency to see if a career in forensic photography can be a good fit for you. You can find even more photography instruction by reading Top 5 Photography Courses.