Crime Scene Photography Jobs
When crimes occur, there is always an investigation. Investigations can last minutes or years, but a crime scene has to be cleaned up relatively quickly. The only way to freeze time at the crime scene is with the help of a crime scene photographer.
Crime scene photographers, also known as forensic photographers, take photos of crime and accident scenes for investigations and as court evidence. Photographers visit every crime and use a high quality camera to capture the scene.
Crime scene photographers are some of the first people to arrive at the scene of an incident. They are professional members of law enforcement who take accurate, detailed photographs of absolutely anything at any hour.
Before any scene can be cleaned up, photos must be taken to create a visual record of the events. It is easy to overlook things in the heat of the moment. Photos can lead to clues and evidence that are only captured on film or digital images.
It’s the photographer’s job to freeze the moment in time. They have to take precise images of the entire scene -victims, vehicles, wounds, weapons, skid marks, bodies. Nobody knows what details may help solve the crime. They will take photos of the pavement, grass, road, weather, and overall surroundings. A trained photographer will have photos from all angles, perspectives, viewpoints and distances, even in the most bloody and gruesome scenes. No details can be overlooked.
A crime scene photographer may snap hundreds of photos at a crime scene. Taking quality photos and using SLR cameras must be second nature to any crime scene photographer. Usually a crime scene photographer will carry a lots of equipment – several camera bodies, measuring devices, light meters, flashes, rulers, bags, tripods, and wide, mid and zoom lens.
Every photographer has a vast knowledge of photography – focal points, exposures, depth of field, and sharpness. They are all important elements to master in order to consistently produce clear, focused, colored photos. Every photo must have a ruler or some way to establish scale for the image to be of any value.
Crime scene photographers develop or download their own photos. But their photos can never be altered. No cropping, enhancing, or Photoshopping is allowed. It’s a good idea to jot notes at the crime scene to remember what photos are what.
Crime scene photographers work as part of the crime scene investigation team, just like on CBS’s hit show CSI. They must be law-abiding citizens, have a clean criminal record, and be skilled in photography. Many obtain degrees in criminology, criminal justice, forensic science, or photography. Usually they start by joining a police force and work their way on to a crime scene team.
Once on the team, they travel to crime scenes and take photos. Often they will notice things in the photos that will help solve the crime – a bit of blood on a car window, a silhouette in a distant window, or the hilt of a knife in the bushes. Photos are used as evidence in court and are often the first tangible evidence a jury will see.
Crime happens at all hours of the day in small towns and big cities. Crime scene photographers earn an average of $29,130 per year. The top 10 percent of photographers make up to $63,400 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The exact figure will vary, depending on location and whether the photographer is working on a full-time or freelance basis.
If you enjoy photography and want to put criminals behind bars, then consider a career as a crime scene photographer. Maybe you will take the photos that get the bad guys off the street.
Quick Facts About Crime Scene Photography Work
Job Title: Crime Scene Photographer
Office: At crime or accident scenes with camera
Description: Take photos of crime scenes for investigations and court evidence
Certifications/Education: Degree in criminal justice recommended
Necessary Skills: Knowledge of crime scenes, Attention to detail, Good with camera
Potential Employers: Police Departments, Law Enforcement Agencies
Pay: Average $29,130 per year