Should I Become a Crime Scene Photographer?
Also known as forensic photographers, these professionals are employed by police departments and other agencies to capture visual evidence. Their photos are used to analyze and prepare reports about a crime and may be submitted as evidence in court cases. The job involves coming into close contact with often violent crimes, which may be disturbing for some individuals.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Fields||Photography, forensic science|
|Certification||Voluntary certification is available|
|Experience||1-5 years of photography experience|
|Key Skills||Attention to detail, critical thinking ability, excellent written and verbal communication; photo editing software; expertise with digital and traditional cameras, lighting equipment, camera filters and lenses, film-developing equipment|
|Salary||$58,610 per year (average salary for all forensic science technicians, as of May 2014)|
Sources: October 2012 online job postings, International Association for Identification, O*Net Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Step 1: Study Forensics and Photography
Education requirements vary by department, but an associate's or bachelor's degree in photography, forensics or criminal justice is often preferred. Students may supplement their degrees with courses or certificate programs in forensic photography. Aspiring forensic photographers should learn about scale, resolution, lighting, viewpoints and angling to create photos that can serve as hard evidence. They should also be well versed in legal proceedings so that their photos meet any court requirements.
- Complete an internship. Crime scene photography internships are rare, but students may contact organizations that perform this work, including police and fire departments and forensics labs. Interning or volunteering with these agencies may help photographers become familiar with crime scene processing. Students can also strengthen their skills through a photography internship at a company or media outlet.
Step 2: Enter the Field
There are several avenues to becoming a crime scene photographer. Some agencies hire trained law enforcement personnel, such as police officers or crime scene investigators. These positions typically have higher education or on-the-job training requirements. Others look for candidates with several years of professional photography experience and offer on-the-job training in forensic photography.
Step 3: Earn Voluntary Certification
The International Association for Identification and the Evidence Photographers International Council offer certifications for crime scene photographers. Candidates may have to meet education and field experience requirements and complete written/practical exams.