We convey to all of our customers that funeral photography is completely different to weddings and any other type of photography! Having a photographer to record your funeral is a completely different experience to any other type of work. It’s still early days in having a photographer at a funeral, and yes, people are often surprised when “funeral” and “photographer” are put together.
So, back to me. When I began photographing at funerals (for friend’s funerals), I never realised just how important and moving the process of photography at a funeral could be for families. Often families haven’t seen each other for a long time, if not years. Families live overseas, children grow up. A loved one dies and the impulse to gather family and friends together, the practical need to have a funeral, takes priority.
At a funeral people are at their most beautiful when they are being kind to one another. Barriers are lowered and tenderness emerges and thrives. Everyone is human for a day. You can still laugh and be happy at a funeral. You can remember the memories of the day. Even the funeral of a young person can be a time of tempered joy. You weep and hug one another but you remember the vitality and vigour of the youth. For an elderly person it can often be a relief that they’re no longer in pain, or in the nursing home. You can join together to remember the person they once were. The person who will live on in your memory. I record these moments of shared intimacy and genuine emotion.
Once the images are taken, selecting the images gives a bereaving family a purpose and given there is no restriction on the number of images in the book, it is a very inclusive process. At the reception of a funeral in London, it was a time for the families to celebrate the life of their lost one and to share in conversation at a more relaxed time of the day. Most of the guests were requesting photos and for me to take their photos. This was a time for the families and for me to take several group photos. In particular, a couple who hadn’t had any photos of them, allowed me to take some wonderful shots. This proved to be a very moving time at a later date. Not so long after that funeral, the lady of the couple above, passed away. The images I took, were the last ones of them together. This moved me and made me feel humble, that recording such events was ever so important, and we hope you feel the same way too.