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Forensic Photography;Photographing Crime Scenes

Updated on June 11, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

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Forensic photography, also called crime scene photography and crime scene imaging, is the art of taking accurate and precise images of a crime scene that can be used to aid investigators piece together the moments before, after and during the commission of a crime or the events that led to an accident.

Forensic photos are often used by courts when determining causes, events, fault and deciding guilt or innocence.

This genre of photography is definitely not for everyone. If you are squeamish, don't feel comfortable around blood, wounds, had trouble in your high school biology class, are highly offended by gruesome scenes, that can often include children, then this type of photography is probably not for you.

Forensic photos most always include items to show scale, such as coins, rulers ,everyday items, although most forensic photographers have specialized equipment for such tasks. A common example is to use a coin placed next to blood droplets to show the scale when compared to a known size (the coin).

Photographs are taken methodically and meticulously, in other words forensic photographers follow a strict set of rules and procedures in every assignment. The images form part of forensic reports and are meant to substantiate conclusions.

Photographs of circumstantial evidence are often taken to show a possible correlation to the crime scene, such as water from a rainstorm that led to a car skidding of the road.

Most crime scene technicians, as forensic photographers are officially known, must often undergo the same or a similar training program that other crime scenes technicians do, if their goal is to join a police department, plus they must show training and expertise in the photographic arena.

In many instances they must have have had training in human physiology as they often will have to photograph bodies,or body parts. In today's society, a degree in criminology is also quite sought after by employers.

Some forensic photographers can eventually transition into forensic agents, which are crime scene investigators that are in charge of collecting evidence, cataloging such evidence and conducting several other aspects of the investigation.

Forensic photographers use a wide array of specialized photographic equipment in their job. The use of photo-microscopes, specialized lenses, X-ray, fluorescence, infrared and ultraviolet lights and film are common. Computers are commonly used to highlight, magnify or re-size photos.

Forensic photographer's main goal is to accurately and clearly take images of anything and everything within the compounds of a crime scene that can be used to shed light on the crime and be used as evidence. They attempt to depict a crime scene in photos that are technically sound, unaltered and provide views from several angles.

Most forensic photographers use film, both color and black & white, depending on the scene, and because film provides a much better resolution than digital. They most always develop their own film and must always keep accurate records at all times during the film processing to the delivery of the images to dispel any notions of adulteration or contamination of the images.

The average starting salary for a crime scene forensic photographer is around $15,000 per year and can go up to $49,000 per year with the average being around $24,000 per year.

The principal employers for forensic photographers are hospitals, insurance firms, law firms, private investigators, the federal and local governments and police. They can also be freelancers working for a variety of clients.

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      S.F. Thank you

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      s.f. 4 years ago

      its detail. i love detail.

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      Denizee 6 years ago

      Great topic! I imagine those who have chosen this career path find it challenging and intriguing while putting together pieces day to day to solve a crime. Certainly each day would be different as they work their way to solving crimes so no day at this job would be boring. Great Hub, informative and tightly put together.

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      Sandy Weiss 6 years ago

      You don't need to be brave for all the aspects of this photography. You DO need to be accurate and careful. It is not all bodies and gore. Much of it is strictly a giant challenge, taking photos of broken parts and anything that may have caused an incident, or even images to convince people to remedy a situation BEFORE it causes an incident. Each project is different and requires thought and ingenuity. Many people have the totally wrong idea!!

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      Interesting hub. I always wondered how individuals got involved into this career field. Thank you for sharing.

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 6 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      I indexed a book on forensic dentistry once, which contained all sorts of gruesome forensic photos. Think my hands would shake too much to take any useful pictures!

    • Cameron Dean profile image

      Cameron Dean 6 years ago from New York

      Very interesting, still as much as I find forensics such an interesting profession, I don't think I'd be able to do it. I'm a coward.