Funerals?

esselle

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I didn't know what section to place this, so please feel free to move it elsewhere.

I'm troubled right now; a friend of mine had a death in the family. No one I know or ever met. She asked me if I would take some photos during the funeral and thereafter. Let me share something personal with you all; my parents died when I was a child. My dad had cancer then within the same year, my mom was in a car wreck. That said, I find funerals to be for lack of a better word...stupid. My friend knows my feelings plus I'm a novice at this. She asked me as a favor to her because she wishes to capture ppl whom she hasn't seen in years. This is why funerals are stupid to me...so, the vast majority of the ppl attending this thing basically didn't care to spend time with this person when they were living but now that they're dead, they will be there? Right. She said that it would mean a lot to her. She is looking more for an objective person to just capture the day...nothing more or less.

My aversion to funerals aside, has anyone here taken photos of funerals and the after get togethers that follow? Could u share your thoughts and advice. Thank you.
 

Derrel

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I was hired to shoot video at a double funeral for two youths killed in a car wreck. Oh, man, it was a difficult atmosphere, filled with a couple hundred junior high school kids in a huge venue. I was once assigned by my college newspaper to photograph the memorial service for a university basketball player who drowned in an inner tubing accident. Both experiences were unpleasant ones. There's very little pleasant about such stressful, momentous events as funerals. Most of the people involved are under duress, and depending on how good and important a friend she is, maybe you could either agree to her request, or respectfully decline it. You're the one closest to the situation. Your judgement is the guiding light.
 

sm4him

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Hmmm...

First of all, I'm sorry for those tremendous losses in your life. A thing like that changes you forever and shapes your entire worldview. I hope and pray that you have good memories of them to hold on to.

Second, I have a much, much different view of funerals but that's neither here nor there, I think.

Finally, the actual issue: I have never, ever taken pictures at a funeral, and I have never SEEN anyone taking pictures at a funeral. I think I would find that tacky and possibly more than a little offensive, though for the life of me, I can't tell you WHY I'd feel that way. :D
The get-togethers afterward are a different story. As long as they are informal and truly just "get togethers" I'd see no problem with taking pictures during that. If it's a memorial sort of thing, I'd tread carefully.

This friend--is this one of her parents? Is she "in charge" of the funeral arrangements? If so, then I suppose if that's what she wants, I see no reason not to do it, just be extremely sensitive to those who are grieving and may or may not want to have anything to do with a photograph. If she's NOT in charge of the arrangements, even if this is someone very close to her, I'd make absolutely certain she has cleared this with whoever IS making the arrangements.

EDIT: I see Derrel got his post in while I was typing, and he makes some good points. When I say I think I'd find it tacky, I am referring to an individual taking photos for their own personal "pleasure" at a funeral. What Derrel is describing is more of a journalistic recording of a funeral, and I'd find no problem with that, though I probably would still avoid being captured on "film."
 

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First off DON'T tell then you are declining because you think funerals are stupid. That is EXTREMELY insensitive to those who feel otherwise.

I would just simply say something like this. "Thank you for asking, but I would feel uncomfortable photographing a funeral because I feel it may be disrespectful to some of the people who are morning and already feeling vulnerable at the moment. I also would not want to be a distraction to the services. "

If the service in inside your most likely going to need to use flash and that can be extremely distracting.
 
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esselle

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts; that's it exactly. I find it tacky and quite frankly, strange. This is one of her cousins...and having talked with her about it more this morning, it isn't for her "pleasure" but she seems to be viewing this as a reunion, from the sounds of it. The after get together, is at her house. I said to her, this isn't a family reunion, there will be ppl who are there just because they feel obligated and probably won't care about someone taking pictures but there will be people in mourning for heavens sakes.

Do I think I could tastefully do this? Yes. Do I want to? No. I think the best thing would be maybe to go and feel it out. She wants some pictures at the funeral though. I asked why and she said that part of life, is death. She grew up with this cousin and she wants this. This has been a hard morning.

Derrell...my gosh, that had to be hard. :(
 

kathyt

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I would decline considering your thoughts on funerals. I would not do them.
 
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esselle

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First off DON'T tell then you are declining because you think funerals are stupid. That is EXTREMELY insensitive to those who feel otherwise.

I would just simply say something like this. "Thank you for asking, but I would feel uncomfortable photographing a funeral because I feel it may be disrespectful to some of the people who are morning and already feeling vulnerable at the moment. I also would not want to be a distraction to the services. "

If the service in inside your most likely going to need to use flash and that can be extremely distracting.

Exactly ...a flash going off ...it's just not something I can see making sense to those there. Especially at the church during the service. She knows my thoughts on funerals, but I need to be reminded that I can be very cold at times, when it comes to this. Appreciate the advice.
 

jwbryson1

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Agreed. I can't think of any reason why somebody would want to look back at images of those in mourning at the lowest point in many of their lives.

I would not do it.
 

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts; that's it exactly. I find it tacky and quite frankly, strange. This is one of her cousins...and having talked with her about it more this morning, it isn't for her "pleasure" but she seems to be viewing this as a reunion, from the sounds of it. The after get together, is at her house. I said to her, this isn't a family reunion, there will be ppl who are there just because they feel obligated and probably won't care about someone taking pictures but there will be people in mourning for heavens sakes.

Do I think I could tastefully do this? Yes. Do I want to? No. I think the best thing would be maybe to go and feel it out. She wants some pictures at the funeral though. I asked why and she said that part of life, is death. She grew up with this cousin and she wants this. This has been a hard morning.

You could offer to do a family photo AFTER the services, and at another location.
 

dbvirago

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You could offer to do graveside images only. With a long lens, they could be done discretely, from a distance, yet still capture the people and emotion.
 

Light Guru

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You could offer to do graveside images only. With a long lens, they could be done discretely, from a distance, yet still capture the people and emotion.

AND REALLY CREEPY!!!
 

nycphotography

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I shot a funeral once. I was going to the funeral with a friend, and the family wanted me to take pictures.

I felt really awkward and out of place, but reminded my self that this is what they wanted.

I think ultimately, that is the key.... you have to take your own feelings out of the situation and then focus on what is going on around you and deciding what you want to do about it, artistically.
 

cynicaster

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You have photos taken at a funeral... why? Just in case you ever have the urge to reminisce about one of the worst days of your life? I don't get it.
 
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esselle

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts; that's it exactly. I find it tacky and quite frankly, strange. This is one of her cousins...and having talked with her about it more this morning, it isn't for her "pleasure" but she seems to be viewing this as a reunion, from the sounds of it. The after get together, is at her house. I said to her, this isn't a family reunion, there will be ppl who are there just because they feel obligated and probably won't care about someone taking pictures but there will be people in mourning for heavens sakes.

Do I think I could tastefully do this? Yes. Do I want to? No. I think the best thing would be maybe to go and feel it out. She wants some pictures at the funeral though. I asked why and she said that part of life, is death. She grew up with this cousin and she wants this. This has been a hard morning.

You could offer to do a family photo AFTER the services, and at another location.

This is a wonderful idea! I know she wanted the church service but this could be a compromise. I told her don't have high expectations ...I'm new to this. She must see some value to this. Thank you and I will explain my feelings and offer this idea.

This makes me wonder though if this is not such an uncommon request by say professional photographers?
 

sm4him

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts; that's it exactly. I find it tacky and quite frankly, strange. This is one of her cousins...and having talked with her about it more this morning, it isn't for her "pleasure" but she seems to be viewing this as a reunion, from the sounds of it. The after get together, is at her house. I said to her, this isn't a family reunion, there will be ppl who are there just because they feel obligated and probably won't care about someone taking pictures but there will be people in mourning for heavens sakes.

Do I think I could tastefully do this? Yes. Do I want to? No. I think the best thing would be maybe to go and feel it out. She wants some pictures at the funeral though. I asked why and she said that part of life, is death. She grew up with this cousin and she wants this. This has been a hard morning.

Derrell...my gosh, that had to be hard. :(


A cousin? NO, I would not do it. Not worth offending those who are much more closely related to the deceased. And really, it IS for her "pleasure." I don't mean she'd get a kick out of doing it, I mean that, as you said, she is seeing this as a reunion, a social event, so might as well snap some pics to remember it! That's "for pleasure" in my book.
If she wants pictures of the funeral, I'd just say "sorry, I'm not comfortable doing that" and let her take a point-and-shoot and take pictures herself.

I have two cousins who are essentially like sisters to me. We grew up next door to each other and have always been extremely close. In fact, their kids refer to me and my sibs as aunts and uncles.
I *still* would not presume to have a photographer cover their funeral just because *I* wanted pictures. I *might* suggest it to the person making the arrangements (well, no I wouldn't because I find it creepy and a bit tacky, but IF I wanted the photos, I'd request the main person consider that, I wouldn't just take it upon myself to have one there.)

The get-together at HER house? She can do what she wants there, and I see nothing particularly wrong with taking pictures in that setting.
 

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