Forensic Photographer

Caroline Hodson

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Job Description

Forensic Photographers acquire a visual representation of the entire crime scene, capturing every angle of every piece of evidence, to make sure they represent every side of the story. It is important that they have an unbiased opinion on the case, so they don't hide important evidence by not taking a photo of it. Forensic photographers capture the entire scene, plus important detail like body position, blood spatter, fingerprints, weapon location, and anything else that would be necessary to include. They then develop or import the photographs and write reports on their work. In some cases, they will be called into court as an expert witness to make a testimony.
Forensic Photography Module

Working Conditions

There is a wide range of work forensic photographers do. Most work on their feet for a large amount of time, working with other CSI's and taking photos at the scene. They travel back and forth from the office to the scene, or even from one scene to another. Some work for medical examiners back in a lab. They examine, clean, and reposition bodies so they can get the best photos they can. Others sit at a desk for most of their time, working at computers and doing research. In many small towns, crime scene investigators do multiple jobs at once, so a photographer could also be a sketch artist, who could also be an evidence collector, etc. Those people have full time schedules, but for others that solely take photos, they can be on a part-time salary. The job can be very stressful due to the thoroughness and accuracy needed to capture every single piece of potential evidence.
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Personal Characteristics

  • Communicative
  • Skilled in Computers and Technology
  • Innovative
  • Precise
  • Attentive to Detail
  • Patient
  • Observant
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Education and Training Requirements

There isn't a specific degree or requirement to be a forensic photographer , but most states require some type of completed degree in photography and a strong background in forensic science. In order to be certified by the IAI (Internation Association for Identification), you need:
  • 3 years of experience
  • 40 hours of classroom training from a college, the FBI, police force, or other academies
  • A current job as a forensic photographer.
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Earnings vs Job Outlook

The average salary of a forensic photographer has recently been around $26,000-$51,000, depending on experience, rank (local vs FBI), and amount of work. A crime scene investigator who does multiple jobs including photography, they might get more vacation time than someone who works part time, only taking photos. However, it's not much easier for those, because they can be called in at unexpected hours to report to a scene.

Luckily, the need for forensic photographers will never go away because the need for aid at crime scenes will never go away. Finding a job in the field is very promising, especially in locations with high crime rate. Every city needs a forensic photographer, and in rural towns, some might share one throughout the county. Bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles will have multiple. It all depends on the size of the area and the crime rate.

Education Spotlight

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Syracuse, New York
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Miami, Florida
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West Haven, Connecticut


Career Opportunities in Forensic Science