The beginning of my Photography domain.
One job that I came across when researching the different photography jobs that I could possess in the near future, was that of Forensic Photography. Forensic Photography can be either referred to as forensic imaging or even crime scene photography. Within the job itself you are required to produce an accurate as possible reproduction of any crime scene, or even accident scene with the use of photography. This is to benefit the court and also to aid the investigation of the crime, as it provides part of the evidence. The photographs can include a number of different imagery like; photographs of the victims, places, items involved etc. These photographs require the use of correct lighting, accurate use of lens size and viewpoints, and the photographs are primarily captured in colour although some are caught in black and white. The colour photographs are usually preferred as they can show important traces of evidence clearer.
A look at the job itself
The job of a forensic photographer may be somewhat glamourised in a number of T.V shows such as CSI, it is indeed a exciting line of work to be involved in. It is their job to produce an array of both detailed and accurate photographs. These are then used for a number of different things such as; analysis, accompanying forensic reports, articles, and research papers.
In order to become a forensic photographer you must first and foremost be able to produce detailed recordings of any scenes that can be used as evidence in court.
If you were to consider it as a career, you would have to maintain a strong background when it comes to photography and possess some form of a qualification within this field. Most forensic photographers start out as crime scene investigators of SOCOs which are scenes of crime officers.
In order to progress to this field within the police force, the offer general training in crime scene photography, then further training in other aspects.
A forensic photographer must have knowledge in the general police methods and conventions along with the obvious knowledge and skill of working a camera.
SOCO – Scenes of Crime Officer
‘Scenes of Crime Officers are responsible for collecting, processing and preserving forensic, photographic and fingerprint evidence from crime scenes, post mortem and accidents.’
The basic job of an SOCO is to examine the variety of crime scenes and to recover evidence from them. This is situated in three different areas which are; fingerprints, forensic and photography. The majority of the day to day work is to look at fingerprints, with then looking into the forensic side of things to then move on to the photography stage.
Entry Requirements/Skills and Qualities
The general requirements that are set are that you must obtain at least 5 GCSEs A-C, which include a Maths, English and Science subject. There is also the preference in some case of A-Levels or the equivalent. Also a qualification in photography is helpful in this particular post. They will also carry out a background check and look at your employment history and check if you have a criminal record.
There are also certain skills and qualities one would benefit from having which I came across when researching this job;
– attention to detail
– observational skills
– be able to use computers
– flexibility when it comes to working
– good level of physical fitness
– be able to remain calm in unpleasant situations
– be able to work individually and in a team
Training and Development
At the beginning of becoming a trainee SOCO, you will work alongside experienced colleagues for several weeks, in order to gain the experience. A course is then taken and can take around 9 weeks to complete, with the combination of self study and training. Then the learning programme can take up to a period of 12 months.
The 4 levels of an SOCO are;
– Level 1: Training
– Level 2: Qualified at a basic level
– Level 3: Crime Scene Manager
– Level 4: Supervisor
Each of the jobs when working your way up will entail different working methods and requirements.
Hours and Income
Hours will differ, but often refer to being 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as it’s a service being provided. You would usually work in shifts to cover this, or be on call. The job is obviously a demanding one at that.
The starting salary for an SOCO ranges from around £16,000 a year, but has the potential to go up to between, £17,000 to £26,000. This is then increased when the position of a Senior SOCO is reached and can then range between £26,000 to over £30,000 a year.
So the salary is particularly a good one, and there is room for progression in the job.
Being that I showed initial interest in this particular job, I wanted to cover it more and decided to try and organise a meeting with the Police. Preferably someone who works within the scenes of crime sector, or an SOCO themselves. This was so I would gain the true insight to the job at hand, and discover what they do on a daily basis.
Unfortunately after many phone calls and even going into a nearby police station in Coventry, I was unable to set up a meeting with anyone. They didn’t seem to understand why I wanted to speak to someone, I possibly wasn’t clear enough. Although saying that, I still think I have a deep insight to the job at hand, as I have conducted in a fair amount of secondary research on this particular field. If a job in this sector was to come up, I would feel confident in applying for it, as I would have all the essentials an criteria necessary for the job at hand, being that I have looked into this.