Should I Become a Crime Scene Photographer?
Crime scene photographers, also known as forensic photographers, are professionals who 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|
|Experience||1-5 years of photography experience|
|Certification||Voluntary certification is available|
|Key Skills||Attention to detail; critical thinking; excellent written and verbal communication; experience using photo editing software; expertise with digital and traditional cameras, lighting equipment, camera filters and lenses, and film-developing equipment|
|Salary||$56,320 (median annual salary for all forensic science technicians, as of 2015)|
Sources: October 2012 online job postings, International Association for Identification, O*Net Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Steps to Becoming a Crime Scene Photographer
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 and practical exams.
Hopeful crime scene photographers should have an associate's degree in photography or forensic science, then gain experience through law enforcement work or on-the-job training.