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Home About Us Laboratory Services Forensic Response Photographic Operations

Photographic Operations

Operational Projects Unit (OPU)

Photographic Operations


The Operational Projects Unit (OPU), Photographic Operations Program, provides investigative/forensic photography, imaging, and photographic support for federal, state, local, and international law enforcement investigations. The unit is also responsible for the oversight and management of the FBI Field Photography Program, with more than 110 full-time and backup photographers in the FBI’s 56 field offices.

The Team

Photographic Operations consists of a supervisory photographer, along with scientific and technical photographers, providing on-call 24/7/365 response, site surveys, aerial missions, and equipment procurement and repair.

The Work

Photographic Operations

Highly-trained scientific and technical photographers provide direct vertical and oblique aerial photography; aerial mapping; operational site surveys to include special events; venue photography; high-resolution digital still photography; and 360 spherical imaging using both digital video and digital still photographic equipment. Scientific and technical photographers capture detailed and accurate photographic imagery for site documentation of crime scenes, bullet trajectory analysis, accident reconstruction, and evidentiary photography. FBI crime scenes are coordinated with Evidence Response Teams (ERT). All photographs can be geo-referenced, which enables OPU to prepare crime scene diagrams, digitally interactive scenes, and scenario reconstruction.

Field Photography Program

Photographic Operations manages the FBI Field Photography Program, supporting field photographic personnel with photographic policies; installation of photographic equipment; coordination of equipment purchases and repairs; and the transition of field offices to newly adopted equipment and photographic techniques. In addition, OPU holds an annual field photography conference.

Photographic Services

OPU Photographic Operations provides services supporting the FBI operational site survey mission, aerial photography program, and crime scene survey and documentation. Photographic imagery collected for a site survey package in conjunction with the operational site survey mission can assist weapons of mass destruction and hazardous materials responders, SWAT teams, the Hostage Rescue Team, and command post decision makers by providing detailed venue information in an all-inclusive pre-surveyed and mapped scene. This virtual “walk through” gives first responders tools to prepare, train, and interact with an emergency situation; increases the speed, safety, and effectiveness of response personnel; and provides a visualization of the venue or incident scene. Aerial photographers create large-scale, high-resolution, and mission-specific imagery for crime scenes and other venues. Aerial photographs can be provided in digital format and hard copy enlargements up to 40x40 inches, with or without alpha-numeric grid.

The use of scientific and technical photography assists investigators by providing detailed and accurate on-site documentation for crime scenes, bullet trajectory analysis, accident reconstruction, bombings, plane crashes, and more. Types of photography used for crime scene surveys and documentation are 360 spherical video, 360 spherical still photographs, aerial photography, and high resolution digital still photography.

Contact Information

Operational Projects Unit
FBI Laboratory
(703) 632-8194