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Having had two family funerals recently, and also been at a couple of weddings, a thought has struck me. These are the types of event that bring families together, in the case of one of the funerals it was the first time in around 8 years that most of the families 12 grandchildren had been together, and the first time that some of the 11great grandchildren had been seen by most members of the family. And yet the idea of taking a camera to a funeral is almost unthinkable, this is in contrast to a wedding where the official photographer struggles to get a clear shot past a sea of phones. Whilst I can appreciate the difference in tone between these two events, the thought persists that both should be commemorated.
I would not suggest that the two events should be photographed in the same way, both are celebrations but of a radically different nature, and therefore need to be recorded differently. There are a small but growing number of photographers who are recording funerals in a sensitive way using candid photography to record the story of the day, one of the frequent comments from the bereaved after a funeral is that they cannot recall who was there, or what the flowers were like, and this could be a way of helping alleviate this issue.
Having said that I am not sure it is something I could do, I just hope it never results in the sea of camera phones that usually hinder the wedding photographer.
Just wondered really what others thought about this.
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It is just disrespectful and not in general good taste to be clicking away at a Funeral, period.
....interested if there's a market
Using long lenses and keeping a respectful distance and all that
the wakes can be interesting - though id probably not be doing many formal group shots
Agree with Ian.
Even when its family.
The thought came to me as I say after two recent funerals, but I recall a magazine article a while ago about it, however the comment below was left on my website by a friend who lost her husband a couple of years ago, leaving her with two children, 7 and 1....."Not something I have ever thought about but thinking back to Pauls funeral it would have been a lovely rememberance to show the children who came to say goodbye to a special Daddy."
Interesting subject ....
I can see how it could be done tastefully and can also see why people would be repulsed by the idea. Personally I would give it careful consideration much like any assignment, however i guess that the price people are willing to pay for funeral photography is never going to be in the league of weddings as there will be no need of that amount of coverage editing and work, but the chances are taking low paid funeral bookings would eat into high paid wedding time so not sure many working togs would look at it as a wise business investment ?
I can remember see a documentary about this about 12 months ago and it was fascinating. My thoughts at the end of the program encompassed everything that has been said and much more. Why not celebrate and record the celebration of a persons life?
There was someone in our area who advertised himself as a funeral photographer. My mum had a flyer through her door one day and kept it to show me. Not something that I would want to be involved in.
I have photographed 2 funerals at the requests of the family. First one included closed coffin shots 2nd one open coffin shots. Both funerals were for same family. They wanted the open coffin shots for one family member who would not be able to see his mum before they closed the coffin. The other photos they wanted to record the day - who was there, the flowers, the cars, horses & Carriages. The family informed everyone that I would be there and like a wedding I kept it very discrete. There were even some humorous shots like when the grand children were meant to let doves go and they escaped and everyone was laughing or when the coffin had been covered in roses thrown in by all the mourners but someone had thrown a lighter and cigarette in too as the lady was a smoker. I would happily do another funeral. Its not a keepsake I would want but I am happy to try and provide it if it helps others cope with loss.
As to charging it was no where near wedding money and I would struggle to charge more than I did although they amount of money spent on flowers was probably 10 times what I charged and the florist seemed to have no qualms in charging full rates
Meant to say I don't advertise as a funeral photography but family were local and found my website which is general photography and phoned me. Had long conversation with the lady before I agreed.
It wasn't always considered disrespectful, in fact people used to have photos with their deceased to remember them by.
Cultural shift occurs and maybe people's views will change again
Quote: Cultural shift occurs and maybe people's views will change again
I think this is important - in this country we seem to believe funerals should be solemn affairs to be dreaded. I often think them the absolute opposite to what I have heard many a clergyman state 'its a celebration of the life lived'. Funerals are times of painful emotion and grief - and I believe that as a culture we shy away from such emotion - we want to avoid feeling it, and often we actively avoid even being near it whenever possible. The idea of taking photo's of such an event fights against our desire to not be reminded of grief - increasing our chances that we can go back to pretending it doesn't exist for us.
Cultures can change, but its a slow job. For this to happen it needs a few brave souls to push at the boundaries of what we normally accept. I agree that their is potential, and applaud LesleyJ for giving it a go.
It's odd though how relatively quickly attitudes changed in this country. When you look at the way the Victorians 'celebrated' death with their photographs of the deceased posed as though still alive etc. plus the long mourning periods, dress etc. I wonder just when attitudes 'suddenly' changed as the Victorian era really wasn't all that long ago.
Quote: It is just disrespectful and not in general good taste to be clicking away at a Funeral, period.
So no televising of Princess Diana's funeral? No press photographers either? None at the Queen's funeral when she dies? And I have known people who hired someone to video a funeral so people unable to attend can also experience the occasion and grieve in their own way - the absent ones said it was a massive comfort to them to see it.
As Sherlob says we have developed a fear of death that stops us talking about it. But you only need to see the almost seismic shift we had when George Best died and the 'minute's applause' in celebration of a life replaced the almost morbid minute's silence. Many hospitals now offer a photography service for parents of stillborn children so they can have a memory of the child they will never see grow up.
It is a tricky subject but as pulsar said, it will never be a keystone of a business.
There are already many professional photographers photographing funerals.
Every undertaker/funeral parlour business will have a contract with at least one (just as they have contracts with florists, etc.) and will offer the service to anyone arranging a funeral. I don't know what the percentage take-up is - but you could ask your local undertaker.
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