Forensic science holds the branch of Forensic photography which encompasses documenting both suspected and convicted criminals, and also the crime scenes, victims, and other evidence needed to make a conviction. Although photography was widely acknowledged as the most accurate way to depict and document people and objects, it was not until key developments in the late 19th century that it came to be widely accepted as a forensic means of identification.
Forensic photographs are used for measurement or analysis, to accompany forensic reports, articles or research papers. Forensic Photography is an integral part of criminal investigation procedures employed by police and security forces throughout the world. Photographers must therefore follow a standard methodology and produce images of a rigorous technical standard so that they can be used as evidence in hearings, tribunals and court proceedings. Since the subject matter often relates to accident, injury or criminal investigations, Forensic Photographers will be expected to be able to work efficiently in distressing and challenging environments, without disturbing other evidence or interfering with the work of other investigators.
Forensic Photography is a fascinating area of work suitable to highly organised photographers who combine excellent technical skills with a methodical and meticulous working practice. While it is the job of many other photographers to interpret a brief, it is the job of the Forensic Photographer to produce accurate, detailed photographs that faithfully record the location and evidence as clearly and as objectively as possible.
Forensic Photographers produce a permanent visual record of the scenes of accidents and crime scenes for use as evidence in court. They must be able to produce detailed recordings of all the available evidence at the scene, including overview photographs as well as accurate images of tire marks, fingerprints, footprints, blood spatters, bullet holes and other unique evidence at the scene. They must also be able to take detailed photographs of injuries sustained through accidents or assaults and may also be required to photograph dead bodies. Much of the work is routine, but photographing crime scenes and road traffic accidents, or visiting patients in hospital, can be emotionally distressing.
Many Forensic Photographers are forensic scientists employed directly by the police or a specialist forensic services company. They work pre-defined shifts and enjoy the benefits of a salaried post. There are also other independent Forensic Photographers who provide forensic photo imaging services to lawyers, insurance companies and some police forces.