WHAT’S YOUR NICHE?
TV CRIME SCENE
© Michael Kubeisy
Criminal investigation dramas are a television staple,
and the props include plenty of crime scene photos.
Los Angeles photographer Michael Kubeisy takes us
behind the scenes to explain how he simulates the gory pictures that
help make shows like CSI seem realistic. By David Walker
Michael Kubeisy’s Web site features a section he
calls “forensics” that is probably not suitable for work:
there are graphic images of gunshot victims, skeletal
remains, autopsies and the like. “the following images,
though graphic,” begins a warning to the site’s visitors,
“are makeup effects. the actors, unless they are silicon,
get up and walk away.”
Kubeisy is a television set (aka unit) photographer,
and although he’s called to shoot promotional images
for all types of shows, his bread-and-butter work is to
shoot crime scene photos that are used as props in t V
police procedurals like NCIS, Southland and CSI: NY. the
actors who play detectives and investigators on those
programs frequently show up at staged crime scenes
with cameras and pretend to photograph them for evi-
dence. they fake it with long lenses for the home view-
ers, who don’t know crime scene photography from
red carpet work.
“When the director yells ‘cut,’ i jump in where the
actor was standing for continuity, and [shoot stills]
properly,” Kubeisy says. “you’re not trying to create art.
you’re trying to create crime scene photos, and you
have to imitate the police officer or agent who [sup-
posedly] shot them.”
Kubeisy’s images show up in later scenes, posted on
evidence boards, for instance, or pulled out of a detec-
tive’s pocket as he or she goes to question witnesses.
all Photos © Michael Kubeisy
Kubeisy jumps in to photograph a scene an actor just pretended to shoot (top, left). His realistic pictures of victims and remains serve as TV props.