Keith Smith’s job is a crime scene investigator. He would be called in to forensically analyse a crime scene. The most common jobs he does are burglaries mainly domestic or automotive. He specialises in fire crimes. Every-so-often he might go to CBRN crimes which stands for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear crimes. He also does covert work, but you would usually move to a different force so no one recognises you. As usually you’ll have to go into a crime scene with no one knowing.

At a crime scene he needs to look for trace of a person has been there:

  • DNA
  • Finger prints
  • Foot prints are unique to a person for example the cuts and nicks in the sole, what your have stood in and DNA might be on their too.
  • Hair
  • Clothes/fibres
  • Weapon/tools
  • Ear & lip prints – unique to a person.

Paul L Kirk quote:

When he wants it,, wherever he touches, whatever he leaves, even without consciousness, will serve as a silent witness against him his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks, the tool mark he leaves, the paint he scratches, the blood or semen he deposits or collects. All of these and more, bear mute witness against him. This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are. It is factual evidence. Physical evidence cannot be wrong, it cannot perjure itself, it cannot be wholly absent. Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its value.”

Something to remember is that if you find clothes fibres it doesn’t mean the person wearing those clothes was their, it could mean they just had contact with the criminal and fibres can move around easily.

Bertillion, considered the father of modern forensics created ways to standardise identification for example height, distances between eyes etc but this didn’t catch on. So he started to use finger prints. He was also one of the first to use photography as a way to document.

You need to think like a criminal, create a timeline of possible actions, where the criminal came in, where did they go? What did they touch? Therefore did it leave a trace?

Crime scenes can be a bad place to take photos but you have to get some the same quality of image every time. You need to be a competent photographer especially in specific circumstance.

Photography as more impact that just talking as you can actually see the detail for example finger prints.


This kind of photography is essentially documentary.

In this job you need a moral compass to make the photos you take objective.

Need to introduce a jury and walk them through the crime scene.

A case can be close if photos aren’t good enough.

1. Need to see whole scene and have context for example the area the like the estate the crime was committed in.

2. Walk crime scene . Remember: evidence is everywhere. Look at evidence types and number.

3. Then take the photos of the evidence.

4. Overall shot with the numbers.

5. Individual shots of evidence ie foot prints.

6. Scale and label each bit of evidence so it can be scaled up to match.

If you have an impression from something for example finger prints get a light source going across not down so you can layer over the top and get more of a 3D image.

Need to create contrast in image for example indentations.

You can use colour powders and ultra violet to show up prints.


Post Mortems

You will take photos of each injury.

A pathologist would have already cut open the wounds to look at impact and to see the damage.

The light in the rooms used are very bright so you will need to adjust the white balance accordingly.


Fire scenes

Problems: most if not all of the scene will be a matt black.

Look for fire shadow: where a surface is slightly darker colour because of the fire.

You need to find a way to get the whole shot, in one instance he had to use a crane to lift him off the ground to get the whole house in shot.


Road Traffic Accidents.

Will only need a photographer team if the accident is suspicious ie someone fled the scene or it’s a stolen vehicle.

You will use traffic chalk so police officers can go back to the crime scene if necessary.


The job:

Team of 5 on a shift pattern

He cover around 656sq miles of land

But the skills are national.

You need to make sure you don’t contaminate yourself or the scene, so he carries alcohol wipes.

Sometimes he uses a water proof camera so he can dip it in bleach afterwards.

Some equipment can be thrown away if it gets contaminated like rulers.

You can use your own equipment but his force bought a job lot of cameras.

He says he still has an emotional response, if he didn’t he wouldn’t feel right. But he focuses on the living, those who survived as the dead are dead.

Using The Equipment:

Aluminium powder is highly explosive and you need to use all powders sparingly. You dust very lightly across a print and need to change direction to get the dust on the print from all angles. Use the tape press from side to the other and remove the bubbles. Remove tape and stick on acetate.

Magnetised powder, use the magnetic wand to attract the powder. If there’s too much powder on the wand you just lightly brush off.


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