You’re probably not going to find a lot of information on forensic photography. The truth is, this is an area of photography that your typical photographer does not get into. You’re dealing with taking photos of people who have been brutally murdered and an assortment of other crimes. Forensic photography is not for the weak stomach. But just what is involved in becoming a forensic photographer? The course outline may not rival going to medical school, but it’s quite a handful.
As with all other types of photography, a forensic photographer first has to learn the basics of the equipment that is used such as cameras, lenses, filters, flash, tripods, types of film and a number of other items that are considered basic equipment for forensic photography. The list is as long as King Kong’s right arm.
The next thing that needs to be learned and understood is that forensic photography is technical photography. Photos must be correctly exposed, must have a maximum depth of field so that the photos are sharp and in focus and must be free from distortion. In other words, the photo must be as close to what the human eye sees as possible and still uncover things that can’t be easily seen by the human eye. Not an easy task.
The photographer must learn about flash and night photography. Many crimes happen at night and the photos have to be taken at the time of the finding. This includes learning everything about dedicated, automatic and electronic flash, including what problems you can expect to run into with each. Troubleshooting is critical in forensic photography.
Then there is a whole course on the purpose of forensic photography so the photographer knows why he is taking the photos he is taking. This includes recording the original crime scene, recording all evidence, providing a permanent visual record and understanding the admissibility of photographic evidence.
Then there is a course on what they call general crime scene photography. This course covers the basics of crimes regardless of the kind. These are procedures that need to be followed regardless of what has happened whether it be a robbery or a murder.
After this course there is a more in depth course, or series of courses, on specific crimes such as homicides, suicides, burglaries, assaults, traffic accidents and injuries. Each one of these incidents requires certain procedures that are specific only to that particular crime.
For example, with homicides color film must be used. Photographs must be taken of the exterior and interior of the building. The photographer must also take photos of the body itself from as many as five different angles, the room the body was found in, the adjoining rooms, close up of body wounds, any weapons found, any trace of evidence such as blood, any signs of a struggle, any signs of prior activity to the homicide, such as drink glasses on a table (maybe they knew each other) and all views that witnesses had if there were any.
And then if that isn’t enough, there is a whole course on how to photograph evidence from fingerprints to footprints and anything else that may be found at a crime scene. A forensic photographer must have eyes like a hawk to know what to look for.
If you’re thinking that this is something you’d like to do, now at least you know what’s in store for you.