Photographing the Scene of the Crime is…
Several weeks ago a Newsletter arrived in my inbox from the IEPPV (aka Inland Empire Professional Photographers and Videographers) announcing an upcoming Crime Scene Photography class. My interest was immediately piqued. I did not even hesitate for a second before signing up for this class. I thought it would be a welcome change from the months of preparations for the Art Tours.
And I was so right. Crime Scene Photography is more technical than fine art landscape photography. So many rules to follow. As a former employee of law enforcement (clerical side), I know all to well the need for all the strict policies and procedures to abide by. And if you break the rules, well it could mean that someone gets away with murder. Literally!
Our day started off with a slideshow of these basic rules and the technical aspects of CSI photography, followed by the order in which you need to photograph the scene of the crime. First you want to capture the overall crime scene. Kind of like when I first scout a location and look around to see what’s interesting to my eye. Then it’s time to start marking the evidence with your number markers. You’ll want to capture another overall view of the scene of the crime now that potential evidence has been marked. Now it’s time to move in a little closer to getting groupings of evidence in areas. Once that is complete you can move in close to focus on each piece of evidence and those important details.
The instructors also presented a few past cases of theirs to us along with plenty of images. It’s way different that what you will see on crime scene television shows these days. I mean those shows try to make it look realistic, but there is just something about a decomposing body that you just can’t re-create. And thank goodness we don’t have smell-o-vision. Enough said there!
After our lunch break, the instructors divided us into groups to work some crime scenes they had re-created for us. We were all pretty excited about this hands-on exercise. I mean that’s why I signed up for this class. I guess some of the photographers in my group were so excited that they neglected to follow the procedures the instructors had just given us. Forget the overalls, they went straight in for the close-up shots. Which made it somewhat aggravating for me because I’m a detailed oriented person and wanted more out of this experience than just close ups of fake blood and dummy bodies. Kind of like when you go to a workshop and you have 5-6 photographers all trying to get a shot of the model at the same time.
By the end of the class, I was exhausted. And that was just from getting up before dawn to make the 90-minute drive to the training facility for this class. I feel for these actual CSI’s who have to process the scene of a crime for hours on end. Sometimes for days at a time with little to know sleep. Especially in San Bernardino County, which is the largest county in the lower 48 states (and one of the poorest to boot) and they only have 9 CSI’s to cover 20,105 square miles. Yes, that is bigger than several states. And these CSI’s are on call. All. The. Time! You go to family events in separate vehicles because you never know when you’re going to have to leave for work. And think about all the events in your child’s life you could possibly miss working as a CSI.
So needless to say, you won’t find me submitting an application any time soon to become a crime scene photographer. It was, however, a nice diversion from what I normally photograph, landscapes. I managed to have a little fun too and got a picture with the mascot of the crime lab. Also made a new friend, Liz, complete with bones and skin.