Photographer & Instructor (FBI Ret.)

Michael J. Brooks, the owner of Aperture Photo Training, began his journey as a "Still Photographic Specialist" in February of 1985, and upon enlisting in the United States Air Force.

After being honorably discharged from the Air Force in December 1989, Michael accepted a position as "Photographer" with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the Photographic Processing Unit of the FBI Laboratory Division.

After a little more than one year, Michael was promoted into a position as a "Scientific & Technical Photographer" in the Special Photographic Unit of the Laboratory Division at FBI Headquarters.

Michael finished his career with the FBI spending the last 10 years as the "Sr. Instructor of Scientific & Technical Photography" at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA.

Michael J. Brooks

Photographic Assignment Experience

Michael was tasked with documenting the mission of the USAF, and the Department of Defense. Photographic assignments covered have included:

  • Making formal studio portraits of military officers, enlisted airmen and civilian executives for official release, as well as special duty assignment portraits and passport photos. Portraits were generally shot in the studio, but on occasion were shot on location.
  • While serving as the official Public affairs photographer and base Photographic Historian, typical assignments included: spot news, special events and major military activities, visits by government and military dignitaries, press conferences, sporting events and other news worthy events as requested, with all intended for the release to national, military wide, base and local newspapers or other publications.
  • Photographically documented combat exercises and operations, medical photography, aerial photography, construction and industrial photography and daily military life.
  • Photographed assignments in support of Air Force Accident Investigation Boards, Air Force Law Enforcement and Air Force Office of Special Investigations. To include: Aircraft accidents, military vehicle accidents, traffic accidents, autopsies, physical and sexual assaults, domestic violence and death investigations (Natural, Criminal and Accidental).

Michael was charged with creating high-resolution, high quality images of criminal investigations, crime scenes and forensic evidence. He was also tasked with photographing historical collection objects.

  • In the course of his FBI photographic assignments, Michael would evaluate the technical requirements for photography and other imaging projects, against the end use for each product, and the audience, which could be as high as the President of the United States, members of the Senate and Congress, U.S. Attorney General, FBI Director and other high ranking U.S. government officials.
  • Photographed a variety of assignments, and often on very short deadlines, or those of national security importance. Assignments ranged from, but were not limited to:
  • Criminal and terrorism investigations, evidence documentation, historical documentation and research assistance, aerial photography, infrared reflected and luminescence photography, ultraviolet reflected and luminescence photography, micro and macro photography, microscopic photography, X-ray photography, latent print photography, footwear and tire track photography and questioned document photography.
  • Photographed between 500 and 1000 investigative scenes, to include: Aircraft Accidents, Moving Vehicle Accidents, Homicides, Suicides, Accidental and Natural Deaths, Domestic Violence, and White Collar/Financial Crimes.
  • Photographed hundreds of military operations and operational readiness exercises, weapons testing, and other special events related to operations and readiness.
  • Photographed over 10,000 Portraits, Award Ceremonies, Graduations, Weddings and Special Events.
  • Photographed hundreds of events for local newspapers, to include: Spot news, feature stories, sporting events and other general news assignments.
  • Major Case Work [Select] (Provided Photographic Assistance):
  • World Trade Center Bombing
  • Unabomber Investigation
  • Oklahoma City Bombing
  • Nicole Brown-Simpson/Ron Goldman Murder Investigation (OJ Simpson Case)
  • Atlanta Olympic Bombing

Technical Expertise

Utilized a wide range of technologies, including the most modern film and digital imaging technologies, as well as computers and various scientific technologies for specific applications.

  • Captured images using formal training, and in collaboration with requestor to determine the equipment selected. Determined the arrangement of lighting, backdrops, and poses to increase artistic effect. Used macro lenses, tilt shift lenses, or subject and equipment juxtaposition in order to enhance, modify, intensify or otherwise heighten the impact of the imagery or subject matter photographed. Applied the appropriate filters or filtration as necessary and have done so using standard color correction filters, color compensation filters, high and low band pass filters, polarizing filters, and used with film and digital imaging systems.
  • Carefully determined the range of films or digital ISO settings to be utilized, the selection the appropriate lens, the need for a tripod or copy stand, and/or in the application of the appropriate lighting or light sources, which includes continuous point light sources, studio strobes, portable strobes, ultraviolet and infrared energy sources, narrow band wavelengths and visible light sources or those of an improvised nature.
  • Utilized with expert ability, a wide range of camera/imaging systems by Nikon, Fuji, Canon, Toyo, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax, Graflex, Bronica, Robertson, and Princeton, among many others. Imaging formats used were determined after consultation with requestor, to include: 35mm SLR film and DSLR cameras, Medium format cameras of all sizes (2¼, 645, 6x7, 6x9), View Cameras (4x5”, 8x10” and 11”x14”) as well as x-ray systems, instant cameras of various sizes, and specialized reprographic imaging systems. Selected and operated large format copy camera systems, shadowgraph cameras and microscopic imagers when applicable and after determining customers final print or usage requirements.
  • Used skill, professional expertise and experience in determining appropriate lens for each assignment, to include; having used fisheye lenses, normal perspective (Prime) lenses, portrait lenses, zoom lenses, macro or microscopic lenses and telephoto lenses up to 2000mm in focal length.
  • Processing included developing and the printing of black and white film, and color film (print and slide films), and doing so manually while using film size specific tanks, dip and dunk systems and tray processing of prints. Used various automated printers and film processers from Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, Noritzu, Hostert, Hope, Wing-Lynch and Durst to also process and print B&W and Color films.
  • Computer and digital imaging systems used include both Windows and Mac platforms. Systems were used for the following purpose:
  • Uploading, sorting and storing/archiving images and burning images to portable media such as DVD and CR-ROM.
  • Image output accomplished using various printers, to include: ink-jet printers, laser printers, dye-sub printers, thermal printers and digital mini-lab printing systems.
  • Image and video editing / management software programs used include: Photoshop, CorelDRAW, Lightroom, and Adobe Bridge. Color correction and color calibration tools/software have been used when appropriate or warranted.
  • Those various programs have been used for the purpose of automated methodologies to process photographs accurately to detail the mission and impact of photographs to be used by agency. Employed standard workflow in the capture of imagery including job preparation, execution, distribution and the archiving of imagery was used in accordance with Standard Operating Procedure and methodologies.