Crime Scene Photography Course Information Page

Instructor: Steven Staggs

Information regarding the Crime Scene Photography course presented at the University of California Extension Center.
Last updated: May 13, 2020

Class Schedule
Basic Skills, Knowledge and Abilities Needed Before Taking This Course
Equipment Needed for This Course
Owners' Manuals
Basic Photography Tips
Contacting the Instructor

Class materials

Class Schedule

Note: This course will be presented completely online.
 Meeting  Date  Day of Week  Time Subject
 1  July 21, 2020   Tuesday  6:00 PM - 9:00 PM   Introduction, Equipment
 2  July 23, 2020   Thursday  6:00 PM - 9:00 PM   Technical Photography
 3  July 25, 2020   Saturday  8:00 AM - 4:00 PM   Flash and Night Photography, Basic Crime Scene Photography 
 4  July 28, 2020   Tuesday  6:00 PM - 9:00 PM   Photographing Crime Scenes
 5  July 30, 2020   Thursday  6:00 PM - 9:00 PM   Photographing Evidence
 6  August 1, 2020   Saturday  8:00 AM - 4:00 PM   Photographing Evidence (continued), Digital Photography 

Special Note from the Instructor

The most valuable advice I can give you before we begin the course is this: Be prepared for the first day of class. Have your camera equipment at the first class, and be familiar with your camera equipment (practice taking photographs before the class begins). Please read the following information carefully so you will be prepared. I look forward to having you in the class.

Basic Skills, Knowledge and Abilities Needed Before Taking This Course

The Crime Scene Photography course is not a basic photography class. You should have a basic understanding of photography and know how to operate your camera before starting this class. It is strongly recommended that you read your camera and electronic flash owner's manuals and practice using the camera before the class. If owner's manuals are not available you can usually find one by checking one of the links listed below under Owners' Manuals. If you need basic photography instruction or information then you can check the links listed below under Basic Photography Tips.

It is important that you resolve any mechanical problems with your camera and flash before you begin the class. Test out the equipment to make sure it is operating properly.

You should be able to do the following with the camera you will be using in the class:

  • Focus the camera
  • Use the camera's light meter and/or automatic functions to obtain a good exposure
  • Take a photograph in normal daylight
  • Take a photograph using electronic flash

During the second day of class we will be learning how to control our cameras to get the photographs needed in crime scene investigations. It is a lot of information that you will later have to use during an exercise. You will be submitting your photographs to the instructor.

I strongly suggest you view the eight videos I have listed below before the first class. The videos will give you good information about some of the subjects we will be covering. (NOTE: these videos are about general photography, not crime scene photography. But we use these same techniques when we photograph crime scenes and evidence.)

Recommended videos:

Optional videos:

Before Session 3, I recommend you view the following videos:

Before Session 5, I recommend you view the following videos:

And read the following guidebook

Equipment Needed for This Course

Required equipment and supplies for class

I recommend you use a quality digital camera for this class. You must use a camera that has all the features necessary to complete all the assignments. Most "point-and-shoot" digital cameras are not suitable for this course. For this course digital cameras must:

  • Have a manual exposure mode with a "B" or "BULB" setting
  • Have one or more of the following automatic modes: S, A, Tv, or Av
  • Have an electronic flash

Cameras that can ONLY be operated in PROGRAM mode are not acceptable since many of the photography exercises during the class require techniques that cannot be accomplished in a program mode. Examples of suitable digital cameras: Recommended digital cameras

Highly recommended equipment for class

  • Wide angle lens (if your camera has a zoom lens the zoom lens will usually be adequate)
  • Close-up lens or close-up filters
  • Supplemental electronic flash (not a flash built in the camera)
  • Remote cord for electronic flash (for operating the flash when it is off the camera)
  • Locking cable release
  • Tripod
  • Extra batteries for the electronic flash
  • Owner's manuals for the camera and electronic flash
    NOTE: If you own digital camera, or are selecting a digital camera, and want to know if it will be acceptable for the class email me at: (include the make and model number of the digital camera in your email).

Class Text


The text for the class is Crime Scene and Evidence Photography, 2nd Edition, by Steven Staggs, ISBN 978-1-933373-07-2. The text book is required.

If you enrolled in the CSI Intensive Academy then the textbook is included in your materials (your fees for the CSI Intensive Academy include textbooks for all the courses).

If you are taking the courses in the CSI Certificate program individually the textbook is not included in the cost of the class. You will need to have the book for the first class. You may purchase the book from:

Recommended Book

Unless you are very comfortable with operating the camera you will be using in the class, I also recommend that you get a Magic Lantern Guide or other how-to book for your camera. Magic Lantern Guides and how-to books are much more helpful than the owner's manual that comes with your camera. Magic Lantern Guides and how-to books can be purchased through and other sources.

Helpful links to additional information and resources

Owners' Manuals

If you do not have an owner's manual for the camera you will be using in the class, you might find one by searching the camera manufacturer's website for a PDF of the owners manual, or consider getting a how-to book for your camera:

Basic Photography Tips

The Crime Scene Photography course is not a basic photography course. It will be to your advantage to have a basic knowledge of photography before you start the Crime Scene Photography course. The following links have some good information on basic photography:

Additional Resources

Contacting the Instructor

Steven Staggs:

UCR Extension Crime Scene Photography page