Photography at a Funeral Home

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by flygning, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. flygning

    flygning TPF Noob!

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    I'm in a class on death and dying. Its sorta cool-- it gives insight on how cultures deal with death, and how this can be used by health care professionals and others to overcome cultural boundaries and such. One of our assignments is to visit a funeral home, interview the director, and tour the facilities. I was wondering, do you suppose it would it be generally frowned upon to bring my camera and take pictures? Obviously I wouldn't take pictures of grieving families (unless they wanted me to, but I really doubt that), but there are other interesting things I might photograph, such as memorials and murals. What are some of your thoughts?
     
  2. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Remember your ABCs'. Always Bring your Camera.

    Love & Bass
     
  3. flygning

    flygning TPF Noob!

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    That isn't too hard with a point and shoot (even a larger one like mine-- gotta love purses). How the heck do y'all SLR users cope with carrying around a bunch of gear all the time??

    Still, if I have my camera with me, is it crass to ask the person I'm interviewing if I can take pictures? We're already on a thin rope- most of the funeral homes don't want students visiting anymore. I don't wanna make it even harder for the next round of students to visit.
     
  4. Senor Hound

    Senor Hound TPF Noob!

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    Its all about your attitude... If you go in and talk to the funeral director, and let him know you're a PHOTOGRAPHER and not a picture taker, he or she very well might let you. Just make sure they understand you're not a punk with a point and shoot that's taking pictures of dead stuff cause its cool. I know you wouldn't, but you have to make sure the funeral director knows that, you know?

    Its really all about respect, and I think as long as you keep a level of respect for not only the deceased and family of the deceased, but the workers and the facilities used, you should be fine.

    I hope this helps. I would also not ask to take photos of a mourning family, unless I knew that family. But that's just me... I also wouldn't take any photos WHILE a service is going on, even if not in the same room. I would hate to have someone get up from where they are, see you taking photos and in their emotional state assume you're exploiting their suffering... People are very hard to deal with at this point in their life (with good reason), so no interaction IMO is better than even positive interaction.
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Define a bunch of gear. One camera is never too much or too heavy. Politely ask your teacher or the director. If they say no hit them with said camera.

    )'(
     
  6. flygning

    flygning TPF Noob!

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    Ha! Hit them with the camera...best advice ever... (especially at one in the morning while hopped up on too much coffee...I'd probably take that advice in my current state of mind)

    Yeah, Senior, I see what you're saying. I definitely wouldn't even ask to take pictures of anything remotely related to an actual service, and I know people can be twitchy about that sorta thing. I'm really trying to start off on the right foot by being super respectful as I'm setting up this visit, but that doesn't seem to be enough. I guess those that came before me were not the most respectful people in the world, because at least five funeral homes have turned down my request to visit.
     
  7. Jedo_03

    Jedo_03 TPF Noob!

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  8. flygning

    flygning TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for that link, Jedo...in fact, I do remember seeing it in passing a while back. It is interesting seeing how people reacted to the subject, especially in terms of what I've been learning in this durned class (and what else would one be doing at 330 in the morning, other than comparing photography forum threads with her class textbooks?). In fact, if I were in the situation where someone asked me to shoot a funeral, or if I were at the funeral of someone I knew, I would be right there with my camera.

    It is a bit different when I'm just an outsider though-- no one would ask me to shoot, and I'd have no connection with any of the mourning families. I would be shooting an emotionally charged atmosphere with no emotion, and I can see how someone might look down on that, even if it is the funeral director looking to keep a certain atmosphere in his place of business.
     
  9. ThePup

    ThePup TPF Noob!

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    It's probably disrespectful students previously that have caused this attitude. As long as you're asking, and being respectful, I can't see why anyone would be offended or upset at you taking photographs.

    I'm in a different country, but on the occasions I've had to deal with funeral homes, the've been surprised and happy to find someone who is genuinely interested in their profession, and who isn't afraid or squeamish about discussing death, and I've had some wonderful and insightful conversations and tours. Funeral homes over here are typically a family business, handed down father to son (Or mother to daughter in a few cases!), it's very hard to break into the business, and it's hard for those in the industry to discuss their work around the dinner table with friends / guests like most "normal" people do because said "Normal" people just don't like discussing or thinking about that sort of thing.
     

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