While there is no specific degree or program, an expert knowledge of photography and crime scene investigation is necessary to become a forensic photographer. The forensic photographer is responsible for taking pictures, both close up and from further away, of crime scenes. These photographs are later used as evidence in court. The forensic photographer must provide clear photographs without disturbing the evidence or crime scene.
Those who want to become a forensic photographer should consider taking college courses in photography. Those with law enforcement jobs might consider looking into photography classes to improve this area of their skills. A forensic photographer needs to understand not only the technical aspects of photography, but to also have expert knowledge of police and crime scene investigation policies and procedures.
Students who want to work as a forensic photographer have several career options for their major. While photography is one possibility, it may work better as a minor if the student has no knowledge or experience with law enforcement. Possible majors include forensic science, law enforcement, criminal justice, crime scene investigation, and criminology.
Alternatively, those who are employed in a field of law, or wish to be, may pursue a job in law enforcement and transition to a forensic photographer job later on. They can learn the skills needed to work as a crime scene investigator and find out if they like the field. If they do, they can continue on to learn about photography or enhance their current photography skills with classes from a community college or university.
After earning a degree, taking courses, or pursuing jobs in related fields, a person who wants to become a forensic photographer can get certification through the International Association for Identification (IAI). The requirements for this certification are three years of experience in professional photography and 40 hours of college classes in photography, and the person must currently work in a forensic science field performing some sort of forensic photography.
The IAI and Evidence Photography International Council (EPIC) both provide information and guidance for those who want certification or education to become a forensic photographer. The individual requirements for a forensic photographer job will vary greatly depending on where the person decides to work. Education is a plus for those with no previous experience, and experience in the field is often necessary for finding a permanent job.