Photography careers are considered glamourous; mostly because people think of fashion photographers hanging out with models, photojournalists who travel to war torn areas and capture the visceral truth and wildlife photographers who take close-ups of sharks, tigers and polar bears. Photography jobs can be all this – and much more. If you want to work in photography but celebrity models, conflict areas and great white sharks are out of your reach, you have more options than wedding photography and school portraits.
These jobs are seldom thought of but provide a fascinating insight into humanity and our place in the universe.
In the CSI TV shows, the investigators usually do everything from dusting for finger prints to scientific analysis of evidence. In real life, these jobs are usually broken down into certain areas of specialisation (although overlap does occur). Forensic photography is one of these jobs. You won’t get pretty people, arresting landscapes or cute animals in forensic photography. You will get smashed up cars, murder victims and bloody evidence. If you don’t have a strong stomach then you need to find some other line of photography work.
Like all other photography careers, you’ll need to know all about lighting, lenses, scale and angle. Your job is to produce an accurate representation of the crime scene, so you also need an eye for detail. And, you need extreme patience and dedication because it can take hours to photograph every single inch of the crime scene.
Furthermore, your job won’t just entail taking photographs of your own; you may also be required to analyse photographs of past crimes and snapshots taken by victims. Your expertise may also extend to video footage, depending on how far you want to take your job.
According to Creative Skillset, if you want to work in forensic photography you need to start off with a recognised photography diploma and then either join the police force or get a job with a forensic services company. If you go the police force route you need to follow the path to crime scene investigation, which includes on-the-job training as a photographer. There are also specialist forensic photography courses that you can take before you start looking for jobs, which will help enormously.
For example, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) offers a Biomedical and Forensic Photography course as part of an undergraduate and postgraduate degree. Short courses in forensic photography are also available from specialist photography schools. Other courses you will need include Bachelor of Forensic Science (Crime Scene Investigation), Bachelor of Science (Forensic Science) and Master of Science degrees.
Astrophotography is regarded as a hobby rather than a specialist career. It’s something that astronomers have to learn to do, but it becomes part of their job rather than a specialisation. That doesn’t mean you can’t make money off your pictures of the night sky. You can also gain quite a lot of recognition from other astrophotographers and even professional astronomers.
Regardless of whether you’re going to incorporate astrophotography in your career as an astronomer or astrophysicist or you’re going to use your photography skills as a hobby, there are certain technical things that you must know. For example, you need to know which cameras are best for taking photographs of the night sky, which telescopes and lenses will give you the best pictures, which accessories and software to use, and which exposures and methods of photography best suit your purpose.
Once again, scientific photography usually falls within the skillset required by scientists as they need to properly document their research and experiments. But, there is room for specialist scientific photographers as the need for professional quality photographs increases. Scientific photographs are essential to illustrate conclusions and convey information to other scientists and academics, students and the public at large.
According to Creative Skillset, scientific photography uses extreme lenses, non-visible light and highly specialised photo imaging. It involves photomicrography, high-speed photography, stereoscopic (3D) photography and ultraviolet fluorescence.
Qualifications depend on the field. Generally, you need a degree in your area of specialisation, like biochemistry, physics and medicine. Then you need in-depth photography knowledge. Many scientific degrees offer courses in photography and many departments offer short courses in scientific photography. For example, Curtin University’s Department of Applied Sciences has a scientific photography course. TAFE NSW – South Western Sydney Institute offers a short course in scientific photography. RMIT has a Bachelor of Arts (Photography – Scientific) degree.
The number of photography careers available is as wondrous as they are varied. You can, of course, look for jobs in wedding, portrait and landscape photography. And you can find exciting work in wildlife and aerial photography. But if you’re looking for something more challenging you might want to try your hand at forensic and scientific photography.
TafeCourses.com.au has a range of courses available so you can lay the foundations for a successful photography career.