funeral pics


TPF Noob!
Dec 26, 2007
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I'd like to get some honest feed-back.

I'm suprised at how few pics there are of funerals. I've started taking photoes at the grave site and NO i do not charge for these, and yes I ask permission. I mail them free to family and then who else wants them; also free. I geuss i am surprised that i have nothing but good responces.

Last week I mailed out over 25 requsted free pics from 1 funeral earlier that week.

The widow said it was the first time in 15 years everyone...almost everyone...was together! THEY POSED RIGHT THERE!
I'll be honest, the idea of taking pictures at a funeral seems a bit strange to me. But hey, if the family(-y ies) are okay with it, then I'm all for it. I can see the potential there. But at the same time, it's sort of a touchy situation.
Honestly, why would you want to document a funeral with photos? Sounds absurd
I've heard a few people on here be requested to cover a funeral. I'd probably turn it down. I wouldn't know what to do.

Videotaping the ceremony is one thing, but photos at a funeral is just strange and heartless in a way. I personally would find it very disrespectful. This is a very touchy situation I guess. Having had a close friend pass away I much rather celebrate her life through images of when we were together not the first moment we were apart.

The entire thought just creeps me out.
For most people who live in the developed world, death is now relatively unfamiliar - I've seen it called the 'last taboo', and I think there is some truth in that. Life expectancy in the west is high, child mortality is low, and so I'm sure there are many people on TPF who have never experienced the death of a close relative.

Just a few generations ago this was not the case. People had large families and expected some of their children to die, death rates generally were much higher than today, funeral and mourning customs were elaborate and even post-mortem photographs of children were not uncommon as momentos and keepsakes.

The aversion to funeral photography that most people have expressed here is a reflection of our current attitudes to death and is simply part of the modern (western) custom to distance ourselves from it.
Funerals aren't about the dead but rather the living. The dead don't care (even if they once did, their minds have changed).

Here in the west, close relatives may be scattered across what in many other places in the world would be several nations. They for one reason or another can't get together all that often and as they age, funerals are a rare opportunity for them to gather.

Why not take that opportunity to photograph someone who might just be the one dead the next time you see them?

Some of you might as well get comfortable with death as you will be spending a lot of time that way all too soon.
It's certainly a thought provoking situation.

I'm not sure if it's an event I would want to have recorded in a photo. It's not like weddings where you look back at the picture and smile.

If however it can be used as a large family photo, which would otherwise be impossible, sounds like a good idea.
My dad’s family must be strange because someone usually take a camera to funerals and wakes, funerals often turn out to be small but unhappy family reunions
Taking photos at funerals is not a new idea. In fact, it was a commonplace practice many years ago. There is nothing absurd or strange about it. It is just that it is not done with the frequency that it once was.

Times change and customs do as well. I shot a funeral about 10 years ago. The family wanted everything- photos of the deceased in his casket, photos of the funeral procession, photos of all the relatives who came, etc....

In the beginning, it felt strange shooting a funeral, but after about 10 minutes, it became just another event I was shooting. Weird sounding, isn't it?

I have a friend who shoots weddings and funerals. He actually markets himself this way. To each his own, I suppose.
I offer these services.

This is an excerpt of my promotional package:

"Special Events and Celebration Services: Sometimes you just need an unobtrusive eye to capture your special or memorable day. I will photograph your event in any way you wish to take portraits and capture spontaneous memories for a lifetime. If you have a family reunion, church banquet, fund raiser, party, civic event or auction; just contact me and I’ll be happy to discuss this with you.

Some celebrations of life can come as a result of a loved one passing from this life to the next. More often than we would like to admit too, these occasions sometimes bring friends and relatives together that might not otherwise be able to. I can capture these services and celebrations with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Consider having these memories professionally preserved. I would be honored to capture these memories for you.

I don't think it is at all disrespectful. I believe that this, although sad in many ways, can be a cherished memory to the family.

This might be a little off topic, but on Sunday night, I shot a family get together where one of the members (the mother of the person that hired me) has terminal lung cancer and has been given less than 6 months. I have probably taken the last formal photograph of that woman and her 4 brothers and sisters.

By the way... I treat the casket almost as if it's "implied". I rarely, if ever shoot the decedent, open casket or not. And, these events for me are very rare.
Opposition to shooting photos at funerals is a modern mindset. Some are queasy at the thought. Others find it acceptable for assorted reasons. If one is discrete in both the process and the product, there should be no problem. Personally, I shoot images and believe that doing so allows individuals to cope with and accept the realities and inevitablities of death.

My brother-in-law asked me to take no photos of his father. It was too late. I simply have not shared the images with him. If questioned on the matter, I doubt that he could have given a logical reason why I should not do so, beyond the consideration that he wanted to remember his father in some other fashion. He may have an interest in seeing the pictures at a later time.
beyond inappropriate its a time of private mourning...
I don't see why taking photos in a funeral is heartless or disrespectful as long as it is requested from the family.

I've personally done this a few times when people have asked me to. One was a funeral for a girl that died under pretty tragic circumstances. A friend of the family asked me to do photos from the funeral. The family was to traumatized at that point to even have an opinion, so they just went a long with the friends suggestion.

I had everything arranged with the minister and I mostly kept myself in the background with a long and fast lens so I didnt have to use flash. I was shooting through the whole ceremony and even went up to do close ups of the coffin and shots of the family and guests.

After I delivered the pictures the friend of the family called me and said the family could not believe that they actually got pictures from the funeral. They could not remember seeing a photographer at all that day. In fact they didn't really remember much from that day at all, so having the pictures was very valuable for them.

So if you do get the pictures, the family can choose later if they want to keep them or not. This family was at least very grateful for the pictures.

I did not charge them anything, and I normally don't work with private clients, but if I was, I would not mind to offer funeral photography as a service, although I would probably not market it to hard.

There is no reason why doing this type of work should make you uncomfortable if you keep a professional attitude.
its different if its contracted work...i still wouldn't do it. There will always be people who are under heavy emotion at gatherings like that and i'm certain it wouldn't be wise to cross the wrong one...

but nevertheless...different strokes for different folks

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