How to Become a Forensic Photographer

Authored by Angela Tague in Photography 
Published on 11-23-2009

Do you love watching the investigative crime shows such as C.S.I and Law and Order? Do you try to solve the crimes by scrutinizing the finer details presented in the show? Consider getting a real piece of police action by becoming a forensic photographer. If documenting details is your passion, and you’re tech savvy with a single lens reflex (SLR) camera, training to be a forensic photographer might be a good career choice.

Becoming Certified

The International Association for Identification (AIA) offers five year certifications for forensic photographers. Applicants for the certification should ideally hold a degree in forensic science, and work specifically in forensic photography. Examinations and endorsements by supervisors are also required for certification.

Experience and Degrees

Experience in digital and film photography are recommended for this career field. A Bachelor of Arts in journalistic or art photography are appropriate credentials on an application for a forensic photography position. The AIA application requires a minimum of three years actively working with digital photography and digital imaging and 40 classroom hours in photography training at the college level or in a police academy photography program.

Technical photography skills must be top notch and forensic photographers must be able to work in varied locations. Whether the crime scene is outdoors or in a cramped space such as a bathroom, you need to exasperate your skills to document minute details of crime scenes.

Paying special attention to lighting, focus and tiny details is essential when training to become a forensic photographer. Mastering the use of auxiliary lighting, portable lighting and macro lenses will help capture small details in dim environments.

Although most forensic photographers have a work schedule, they may need to work on-call. Becoming a forensic photographer means having a flexible schedule. Can you show up to a crime scene on short notice, outside your regularly scheduled shift? Crime scenes in public places need to be documented quickly, so the area can be cleaned and restored for the public.

Mental Preparation

Mentally preparing for a job in forensics is imperative. Documenting crime scenes is challenging and mentally taxing. Visit with a psychologist about the potential trauma you may experience when seeing a brutal crime scene. Evaluate your position on crime, violent scenes and the ability to stay focused in such an environment.

Preparing for a career in forensic photography can be challenging. Focus on skills as a photographer as well as your duty to your law enforcement colleagues. Working for a private agency, or as a staff member for an investigate unit of law enforcement, your job as a forensic photographer is documenting essential evidence used in ongoing investigations and as courtroom evidence.


  • International Association for Identification

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