Does anyone photograph funerals?

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#1
I keep thinking about it, and every time I do some research it's not something that's in abundance like weddings.

I wonder if anyone photographed funerals and wanted to share any of their experience?

thanks
 
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#2
In hindsight we should have photographed my FIL funeral, our daughter was too young to understand what his passing meant.
 
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#3
I've often thought about it too, especially here in Ireland where an Irish 'wake' can last up to 3 days. The wake itself begins with mourning obviously, then a lot of drinking and becomes a celebration of the person's life - with stories told about their ventures, the good the bad the ugly, the wailing turns to laughter for the most part. There was a documentary years ago on Irish tv about a photographer who did just that, he photographed Irish wakes and funerals. Can't for the life of me find it though :/ I think if it's tastefully done, a story acount of the funeral in image form, it would be a lovely keep-sake for the family and friends.
 
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#4
I've often thought about it too, especially here in Ireland where an Irish 'wake' can last up to 3 days. The wake itself begins with mourning obviously, then a lot of drinking and becomes a celebration of the person's life - with stories told about their ventures, the good the bad the ugly, the wailing turns to laughter for the most part. There was a documentary years ago on Irish tv about a photographer who did just that, he photographed Irish wakes and funerals. Can't for the life of me find it though :/ I think if it's tastefully done, a story acount of the funeral in image form, it would be a lovely keep-sake for the family and friends.
One thing in favour of photographing these occasions is that like weddings it's one of the rare occasions when the whole family is likely to be together.
 
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#5
One thing in favour of photographing these occasions is that like weddings it's one of the rare occasions when the whole family is likely to be together.
I wish I'd photographed my mother's funeral a few years back, I took some family pics but I didn't intentionally document the occasion. Of course I was mourning, I was not in the best frame of mind, but still wish I'd at least taken some more candid images. Like you say, it was the first time in a long while than many of the relatives had seen one another, people were home from all corners of the globe and some I may never see in person again.
 
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#6
One thing in favour of photographing these occasions is that like weddings it's one of the rare occasions when the whole family is likely to be together.
And you don't hear the official ask, "Does anybody know of any lawful impediment as to why this person can't have a funeral?"
 
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#7
TBH it's not something I think many would want, and I could imagine some attendees becoming aggressive. Emotions run in a lot of unpredictable ways at these things, and I doubt many would want a camera pushed at them.
 
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#8
TBH it's not something I think many would want, and I could imagine some attendees becoming aggressive. Emotions run in a lot of unpredictable ways at these things, and I doubt many would want a camera pushed at them.
I understand a point about having immediate family OK with the idea of a photographer.

Also I think the way I work would suit funerals well, unobtrusive, quiet and respectful. Photography has forced me to come out of my shell a bit more - organising people etc.. but I haven't lost the ability to take photos unnoticed.

In many ways funerals appeal to me over weddings, for the way I'd like to work.
 
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#9
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#10
There does seem to be a small but growing demand for funeral photography. Google turns up a fair bit and I've red features about it. Possibly this is fuelled by the rise of social media and it's universal self-documentation of everything which has legitimised revealing all aspects of life through photographs.
 
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#11
I have never seen anyone take photographs at a funeral (church or crematorium). However, when the family meets afterwards, the atmosphere is usually more relaxed and capturing family groups who do not get together often seems quite normal. However, I do not see that this would offer very much work for a professional photographer.

Dave
 
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#12
When my brother passed away, I did take some shots of the floral wreaths. But to this day I still can’t bring myself to look at them. As said above, it’s a very raw and emotional setting, so some may take offence. When I was sorting out my stepfather computer after he passed, I found photos that he had taken of his farther and my uncle in their coffins, I wasn’t happy at all.
 
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#13
I have never seen anyone take photographs at a funeral (church or crematorium). However, when the family meets afterwards, the atmosphere is usually more relaxed and capturing family groups who do not get together often seems quite normal. However, I do not see that this would offer very much work for a professional photographer.

Dave
Yet we see funerals televised very often. I wouldn't expect anyone would want to photograph the ceremony, as I said earlier it would be more about the wake, the family, the gathering ... and it would obviously be cleared by the family first. Nobody is going to get upset as some suggest if they know beforehand someone will be taking pictures.
 
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#14
I did it for my Grandfathers as my Uncle had back surgery and couldn't travel for it so asked me to take some photos. I felt extremely uncomfortable doing so even though my close family knew why I was doing it. Something just didn't sit right and even thinking about it now doesn't sit well with me even though I understand the reasons.
 
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#15
My FiL recently passed on. As others have said it's an occasion when a lot of family members meet so I considered taking the camera - for the wake rather than the ceremony.
After a quick google I came across a lot of threads where people had asked the question and the strength of feeling against was such that I decided to drop the idea entirely.
On the day a few pictures were taken of the flowers after the event but no one took pictures of each other, even at the wake with their phones - so I'm glad I didn't intrude, even if we won't see some of those present again.
 
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#16
Just to add what I posted above, I wouldn't take pictures at a funeral service but I would consider taking pictures of relatives together afterwards at home or at any venue booked for the get together / wake and of course it would be with the full consent of those involved. I wouldn't be photographing weeping spouses but I would photograph family and friends having a get together / toasting the departed.
 
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#17
Way back in 1969 I was asked to photograph a Hindu funeral. I have very dim memories of the whole thing - probably traumatic amnesia!
 

nandbytes

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#18
not everyone has a funeral. Some people have "celebration of life" type event because they either were not religious or they want to celebrate someones life more than their death or both. I have been asked preciously to photograph one of these. It still felt odd and I politely declined it as I wouldn't be comfortable doing it. But that's just me :)
 
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#19
When my brother passed away, I did take some shots of the floral wreaths. But to this day I still can’t bring myself to look at them. As said above, it’s a very raw and emotional setting, so some may take offence. When I was sorting out my stepfather computer after he passed, I found photos that he had taken of his farther and my uncle in their coffins, I wasn’t happy at all.
Same here. I know where the pictures are but I don't look at them.
 
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#20
not everyone has a funeral. Some people have "celebration of life" type event because they either were not religious or they want to celebrate someones life more than their death or both. I have been asked preciously to photograph one of these. It still felt odd and I politely declined it as I wouldn't be comfortable doing it. But that's just me :)
This is what I had in mind, my example of the Irish wake usually turns out to be this. Once everyone has gotten over the initial shock and mourning they begin to share stories about the deceased, I learned things about my mother at her wake that I could only have found out by her passing. I laughed and sang and drank and cried with people I'd never met, I think photos of these moments would be pretty special. End of the day it's up to the immediate family first and foremost, I appreciate there's many wouldn't like to be photographed on the day. I guess you'd really want full party permission to be comfortable doing it. I'd see it as more a document record in images than say comparing to wedding photography where it's all frills and promo and arty pizazz, it would certainly be harder to advertise for.
 
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#22
I was once asked to video the funeral of a police officer - the widow's children were young and she wanted them to see how respected their dad was. I did montages of the hearse being accompanied to the crematorium by police motorbikes and through a guard of honour, parts of the hymns and also recorded the eulogies from the vicar, his widow and colleagues. I made it as tasteful as I could and it worked out surprisingly well. I can understand it's not for everyone though.
 

nandbytes

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#23
I am not against the idea and well we live in a democracy people are free to choose how they wish to remember certain events.
But doing it respectfully and "tastefully" is important as noted above. Some people are obviously better at it.

I also don't stuff my face at funerals either. I find it odd that some people go there and as soon as the food is out they rush to the buffet!
Don't think I have ever eaten anything at any funeral because I actually don't think its a situation that makes me hungry and it causes a loss in appetite.
Similarly its also a situation I don't think could be creative or mindfully tasteful in the way I'd photograph. So I wouldn't be comfortable with it.
 
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#24
I am not against the idea and well we live in a democracy people are free to choose how they wish to remember certain events.
But doing it respectfully and "tastefully" is important as noted above. Some people are obviously better at it.

I also don't stuff my face at funerals either. I find it odd that some people go there and as soon as the food is out they rush to the buffet!
Don't think I have ever eaten anything at any funeral because I actually don't think its a situation that makes me hungry and it causes a loss in appetite.
Similarly its also a situation I don't think could be creative or mindfully tasteful in the way I'd photograph. So I wouldn't be comfortable with it.
I'm going to be all stereotypical Oirish here, but if you're not atin' and drinkin' at an Irish wake people think there's something wrong with ya :D
 

nandbytes

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#25
I'm going to be all stereotypical Oirish here, but if you're not atin' and drinkin' at an Irish wake people think there's something wrong with ya :D
haha fair enough. Just don't feel like it I'm afraid. :)
 
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#27
I have photographed three family funerals and would have no problem doing it again if asked. I'm from a Caribbean background and funerals are seen as a outward show of celebration of the life the deceased had lived.

The day would start with recording the coffin at home of the deceased, photographing guests as they pay their respects. The next set of photos would be the arrival of the coffin at the church followed by some shots during the service and the filing of guests past the coffin in the church. After the shots of the coffin leaving the church are completed there will be a dash to the cemetery to ensure the coffins arrival at the cemetery is recorded. The service at the graveside would be photographed and candid shots of guests would be taken Photos of the coffin being lowed in to the grave are important to capture. In Caribbean culture it is the responsibility of the men of the family to fill the grave using supplied spades instead of leaving the task to the cemetery staff. The wake will be an event full of eating and drinking and the telling of stories related to the deceased's life. Often music will be played and it is not uncommon to see dancing at a Caribbean future.

The last funeral I photographed was that of my mother in law. I created photobooks containing the images taken. These were sent to family members in Jamaica who were unable to make the trip to the UK to attend the funeral.
 
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#28
I recently declined a request (from a West Indian family) to photograph a funeral.
They're a family I grew up with and I did actually photographed a memorial service for their mum a few years ago - and then an 80th birthday party for the dad (who's funeral it was a year or so later.
I declined because the emotion at weddings still affects me after all these years - I don't honestly think I'd have been able to remain composed at the funeral of such a lovely bloke.
 
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#30
We might only think of that being odd because of our culture, but some cultures wake their dead for up to 3 weeks - they bring the corpse food and gifts and continue chatting to them. Death is a celebration to them, before the burial they dress the body up glamorously and dance around it, take selfies with it etc ... Anyone who watched Dark Tourist on Netflix will have seen this.
 

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#31
Assuming the deceased didn't leave instructions about this, I'd just leave it to the immediate family. If they ask for photographs, discuss what type of coverage they have in mind. Anything from a few, dignified, mementos to 'party' coverage. If they start squabbling amongst themselves about the whole idea, let them get on with it and walk away. I certainly wouldn't want to end up in the middle of an unseemly row during the funeral, so get this sorted out in advance if you're considering it.
 
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#32
I've done quite a few over the years. Most as a newspaper photographer (some celeb, murder victim or politician ect) and twice I've been asked by the family.
I suppose there must be a market, it's just the marketing angle might be tricky.
To be honest, I've never felt entirely comfortable doing them. I'm old fashioned enough to consider it disrespectfull. (no offence intended to the OP) Maybe I'm out of date, but I guess it's just the way I was brought up.
Each to his or her own though. If it works for you, go for it.
 
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#33
I was at a funeral recently where the church service was videoed. A couple of weeks after I was given a cd of the film. Not something I will ever watch but I cant bear to throw it away - seems disrespectful. But I have no idea why it was done - none of the close relatives lived far away. I also have no idea what else is on the cd - whether it was only the church ceremony, or including the service at the crematorium etc. It was a static videocam at the church.
 
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