Forensic Photography

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Forensic photographers work with law enforcement to record and preserve evidence in a criminal case. The photographer creates a record of a crime scene that police officers and investigators can use to determine how a crime occurred. Medical examiners use forensic photographs to analyze the details of a death such as the position of a body and injuries.

Photographers who work with law enforcement must be knowledgeable on the various types of equipment used in forensic photography, such as infrared or ultraviolet light, to select the appropriate imaging tool to collect photographic evidence. The photographer uses the tools and processes to develop clear images for law enforcement to analyze a crime scene. Individuals may also prepare the photographs that are used in criminal court proceedings. Forensic photographers also capture images of victims and their injuries, which medical examiners use to determine a cause of death. Forensic photographers may be required to testify in court proceedings to explain the photographic enhancements or techniques used in the collection of evidence. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median salary for photographers in general, in 2012, was $28,490 (www.bls.gov). Also, employment for photographers between 2010 and 2020 was expected to grow by 13%, overall.

The BLS reports scientific photographers may need to obtain a degree to qualify for a position in this field. However, some law enforcement agencies, such as in Virginia, may hire forensic photographers with a high school education and completed courses in photography, processing and forensics. A degree program can offer courses in different approaches in photography including photojournalism, scientific photography or commercial photography. Students may learn all approaches in the field, but specialize in scientific courses for a career in forensics. In a degree program, students learn lighting techniques, shutter speeds, camera mechanics,...
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