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  1. #1
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Just wondering what everyone's take is on someone photographing a loved ones funeral or a friends funeral.

    Appropriate ---not appropriate.... just wanted to hear some thoughts if you had any. If it coul stay resepctful and with no mudslinging it would be great---this is, I realize, what could be a sticky subject and I respect your opinion whatever that may be.

    thanks Nat
    "I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer.
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  2. #2
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Not me, but some do. Don't take a picture of me after I am gone. I don't want to be remembered that way......
    Greg

  3. #3
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Very interesting topic Nat. I don't think I would have a problem with someone taking photos at a funeral. I don't think it's something I would do myself, but if someone else wants to do it in a respectrull manner that's fine by me. I think some people would see it as very inappropriate, and tacky, but I don't see a problem with it.

    I have been listening to a history of photography podcast, and back in the early days of photography, people would take their dead loved one to the degaratypist before they would take them to the undertaker. Photographing the dead was a very common practice a century ago.
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  4. #4
    Liz
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Nat,

    I'm not quite sure. I've personally never seen it done before - except on TV by the media for a public figure. Let me just add that because my ministry is caring for the terminally ill, I've been to many funerals. However, that doesn't mean it's never done or that I don't think you should - just sharing my experience.

    I think it would depend on what or "who" your subject would be, and more importantly the reason. IMO you would need to get permission if it's not your family - and/or if it is your family, I would explain the reason for doing it - just out of respect to those attending.

    Liz

    Quote Originally Posted by natatbeach
    Just wondering what everyone's take is on someone photographing a loved ones funeral or a friends funeral.

    Appropriate ---not appropriate.... just wanted to hear some thoughts if you had any. If it coul stay resepctful and with no mudslinging it would be great---this is, I realize, what could be a sticky subject and I respect your opinion whatever that may be.

    thanks Nat

  5. #5
    Ex-Modster Old Timer's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    I have never actually photographed a funeral service, however I have had a couple of request to photograph the deceased at the funeral home before the service. They have been from people I knew well and I understood why they wanted the images although I was not thrilled with it I compiled with their request. I did it when no one else was there with the help and consent of the funeral director. In most cases the family or widow wanted pictures of memorial flowers and such as well. I never charged for this service and I never even looked at the images. In every case I had told them I would take the pictures and give them the film and they could do with them what they wanted.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Personally I would avoid it, but if "backed into a corner", so-to-speak, then the approach is to be as unobtrusive as possible. Minimum equipment, avoid flash, quiet shutter on the camera, telephoto, small pocket camera for some shots etc. Any speeches could be recorder in video mode on a superzoom.

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  7. #7
    Sports photo junkie jorgemonkey's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    At my wife's grandmothers funeral a few months ago, two of my wife's uncles had their p&s cameras out getting photos of the pallbearers standing in a line, and a few other photos of the guests. They didn't take any during the graveside service, but after the service was done the photo started. Eventually someone asked me if I had my camera at the cemetary (which I did) sso I pulled it out and started shooting. I put my 70-200 on there so I could stay out of peoples way, and didn't use flash.

    Since most of the family is from out of state, this was one of the few times they all got together. We had a viewing the night before the funeral, and they asked me to shoot that. I wasn't really comfortable doing that, especially taking photos of people I didn't know, so I gave the camera to my bro-in-law (after telling him to keep the neckstrap around his neck, cause if he drops the camera, he's dead!!!) and he ran around with the camera in auto and actually took some really good photos.
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  8. #8
    Love + Music + Photography = Life CLKunst's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    For my grandfather's funeral I made a video collage of pictures of him through his life that they played during the service but no one took any pictures during the service or at the funeral home. I did take a few pictures at the burial in the cemetery but only because it was done with military honors and it meant so much to him as he was a POW in WWII and fiercely proud of it. They had an honor guard and a flag draped over his coffin and a bugler who played taps. Then they gave him a military salute with rifles. My gram was very glad I took those pictures but I must confess it was very awkward feeling for me personally. I did them at a distance with a long lens and put the camera away once I rejoined the crowd.
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  9. #9
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Thanks everyone for your input... some good advice and some good things to be considered...any other thoughts always welcome as well....
    "I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer.
    I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time.
    I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important.
    I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live."
    .
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  10. #10
    I can't member!?!? dmm96452's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    My wife's grandmother passed earlier this year. Many took photos, I chose not to. I just wasn't comfortable. Nobody seemed offended by it so I would say it's a matter of personal preference.

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  11. #11
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Hi
    My dad's funeral was to-day and no one took pics.

  12. #12
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Quote Originally Posted by barb_48
    Hi
    My dad's funeral was to-day and no one took pics.
    Wow, sorry for your loss.

    I was at a relative's funeral who received military honors. There were plenty of opportunities for great images but I didn't have a camera with me at the time. I could see something very quiet (Leica rangefinder, P&S digital with the shutter sound turned off) being the right tool for the job. I told my wife later about this and she was glad I didn't have a camera... I guess you probably wouldn't have a lot of people excited that you were doing this but some time down the road, people would be glad for the images.

  13. #13
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    My dad's mom died of cancer when he was 16. Seeing pictures of her in the casket gave me a view into my father's life I would have never had otherwise.

    Life needs to be documented. I would miss out on so much if people in my family didn't feel the same way.
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  14. #14
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    I shot the funerals of three of my grandparents. I have photos of two of my grandfathers in their caskets. I took the photos very respectfully and they are very important to me. I went to the funeral home before anyone else so I had time alone to carefully set up and take the pictures. I also have photos of their cemetary plots. I relate to the world through photography so it's natural for me to photograph any important event. My family understands that.
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  15. #15
    Member Rocket_Scientist's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    My Grandmother (my Dad's Mother) died while staying with us when I was fourteen, and my Step-Mother would not allow me to go to the funeral (long story), but she did take some pictures. They were unflattering, black & white instamatic snapshots, and only of my Grandmother in the coffin, with which she (my Step-Mother) excused not letting me go; so, I guess I've never been fond of photographing funerals. I certainly would not mind photgraphing the attendees, especially rarely seen family, outside of the service itself, although, with some of my relatives, they would continue to lament the reason for the gathering if they ever saw the pictures. A good photographer, with quality equipment, could certainly produce some tasteful, enduring memories of a funeral; but, while photographing a funeral service does not bother me, it also does not interest me.
    Last edited by Rocket_Scientist; 10-16-2006 at 08:42 PM.
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  16. #16
    Jedi Master masdog's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    I don't know if I would photograph a funeral, but (in some morbid way) I wish I had a camera with me at the last funeral I went to. That funeral was for my girlfriend's grandfather, and since he served in Korea, there was the whole 21 gun salute and presentation of the flag that would have made for some touching photographs.

    There was one person there with a point and shoot who took a few shots. I didn't think it was a big deal, but my girlfriend's sister went on about how rude it was.
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  17. #17
    Jim B. jbaldocchi's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Well I'm sure you have enough opinions on this subject but a friend of mine handed me a video camera and asked me to film his fathers funeral and so I did. I think it's all about respect and permission.

    Jim B.
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  18. #18
    Co-Moderator, Photography as Art forum megan's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Mourning is such a personal and private thing, even though funerals are public mourning. I honestly think I'd be really angry and upset if someone photographed me at a funeral.

  19. #19
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Hey if you are comfortable with it that fine, but what or who would you be taking pics of? Is is a once off opportunity to get a shot of relatives you never see? I think the big thing is to ask the colsest people to the one who has passed. Even if you ask people and theyare ok with having their pic taken I think it would be very disrespectful to the ones closest if they were in in agreeance.

    I want to have a celebration of my life when I go so I would like to see smiles and group pics of those who were knid enogh to come and wish me well on my next journey.

  20. #20
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    about three years ago, my aunt died. After the service was a party at my uncles, and many people said they wished they had brought their camera.

    last year, my dh's brother died. He was active duty military, and they had a service and viewing in Maryland that was videotaped, a service and viewing in WI, and and old friend of the family brought his camera and took some photos.

    My great aunt passed away less than a month or two ago, after the service they had a dinner. My aunt brought her camera, and took some photos, not during the service, but at the party. I have a pretty large family, and we don't get together as often as we used to.

    My great uncle passed away on Sunday, and the funeral is today. I know i would never take my camera, but I'm sure there will be one or two there.

    I would agree that it's a personal thing, and while I think shooting during the service would be a bit tacky, in my experience, shooting afterwards isn't really a big deal. But in my family there is usually a party afterwards, so that my make a difference.

    I am so frickin' sick of funerals.
    I sleep, but I don't rest.

  21. #21
    Belle belle wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    Many years ago, my husband and I bought a fix-it-up house. We started working on it. I went upstairs to start cleaning it up. I found a photo lying on the floor. I picked it up and looked at it. It was a photo of a child in a casket. It was scarey. I didn't care for it at all.

    At our family funerals, we usually never take a photo of the one who has passed away. We usually have a dinner after the funeral, and almost everyone has a camera and we take family pictures. It is strange that the only times we see each other is for funerals and weddings and reunions. Our family does love the photo albums though.
    Belle Wilson

  22. #22
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Child in Casket

    In the 1800s, photos of fully-dressed and very dead children were not uncommon. People had them made in order to remember their children in a happy way. Photos of dressed up stillborn babies weren't out of the ordinary, either. It might seem strange now. But customs change.
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  23. #23
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    Re: Child in Casket

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    In the 1800s, photos of fully-dressed and very dead children were not uncommon. People had them made in order to remember their children in a happy way. Photos of dressed up stillborn babies weren't out of the ordinary, either. It might seem strange now. But customs change.
    Actually, there is an organization that goes to the hospital and takes photos of newborns for families who don't expect the baby to make it out of the hospital. Here's the link, which explains it better than I did.

    www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org
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  24. #24
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    Re: Child in Casket

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    In the 1800s, photos of fully-dressed and very dead children were not uncommon. People had them made in order to remember their children in a happy way. Photos of dressed up stillborn babies weren't out of the ordinary, either. It might seem strange now. But customs change.
    Mom had a picture of twin babies in their coffins on the church stairs. Only picture ever taken of them. Somewhere in Pa. or Ohio, circa 1915 or so.

    My uncle used to shoot movies of everything. I think he shot every funeral he went to.

  25. #25
    Say Cheese Dmodegirl's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing a Funeral: should or shouldn't

    I personally wouldnt want to be photographed and I wouldnt care to be photographed at a funeral either. But I guess its a personal choice.

    It was common to photograph the dead, fully clothed and usually in their bed. It was common for families to have a photo alums (s) of their dead. In bed, or on a chair etc.. some place in the home. People paid their respects to them before burial.

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