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Funerals?
Old 02-08-2013   #1
grapejohnson
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Funerals?

A friend of my girlfriend's just died. I am going to take her to the funeral, although I didn't know him. Would it be disrespectful or insensitive to bring a camera along? I don't think I would really want to use it, but how do others feel about this? Any experiences you want to share about the topic?
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Old 02-08-2013   #2
msbarnes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grapejohnson View Post
A friend of my girlfriend's just died. I am going to take her to the funeral, although I didn't know him. Would it be disrespectful or insensitive to bring a camera along? I don't think I would really want to use it, but how do others feel about this? Any experiences you want to share about the topic?
tough call. I oftentimes think about similar scenarios.

If the interest is for your personal sake, then I would find it inappropriate.
If the interest is to document for the family, then I would find it appropriate.

However, if you do decide to bring a camera then I'd suggest something quiet and unobtrusive.
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Old 02-08-2013   #3
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Originally Posted by msbarnes View Post
tough call. I oftentimes think about similar scenarios.

If the interest is for your personal sake, then I would find it inappropriate.
If the interest is to document for the family, then I would find it appropriate.
He was well loved throughout the community, but you have a good point, i don't think anyone will necessarily want to remember his funeral very much.
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Old 02-08-2013   #4
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Maybe..
Many family members/freinds will be there, that are normally at one place at the same time.
And when your friend introduce you to her family and friends, a suggestion of small grouping with her in the photo,
may become a family air-loom of those who attended. they can be added to the funeral artifacts that are saved by the surviving family members.

just one with a 28mm lens FOV will be fine, with a small flash.
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Old 02-08-2013   #5
daveleo
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IMO it would be very inappropriate unless a member of the immediate family asks you bring a camera and take pictures. I have never seen anyone taking pictures at a funeral, except when asked (I was asked once by my family to get my camera out of the car and make one photo).

Also, in any case, I cannot imagine using a flash or a noisy shutter at a funeral service.

EDIT: Also, even if someone in the family thinks it's okay, you should be sure that they all are on the same page. I can easily imagine someone getting extremely upset during the service, and you will not have the chance to say "Well, so and so said it was okay."
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Old 02-08-2013   #6
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I took many photos at my sister-in-law's funeral immediately after the ceremony. It documented a family that had been apart, and adult children of the deceased with truly difficult stories.

I made booklets of prints for the family members, including some lighter moments as the day progressed. They seemed to enjoy them.

Of course, they all knew me and the pictures at the site were posed group portraits. The candid photos were at a dinner later.

You will have to use your judgement-this is the human part of this hobby.
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Old 02-08-2013   #7
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Unless you knew the person and their friends very well, and they knew you, yeah, I'm going to say it's inappropriate.

If you really feel compelled to photograph it, seek the person who was the closest and probably the one handling the arrangements and probe their feelings.

Or just go there and be there for your girlfriend.
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Old 02-08-2013   #8
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Not for me, close relatives won't care for having their photos taken, they'll be too distraught. Not so close friends etc. should probably try to look like they're not having a good time.
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Old 02-08-2013   #9
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Last august I attended the funeral for one of my wife's aunts. I carried my Olympus XA just in case. I specifically carried the XA because I could carry it in my pocket, out of view. I did not want anyone to get offended by seeing me arrive at the funeral with a Leica or an SLR hanging from my neck or shoulder.

When we were all about to leave there was a call from someone to get all the deceased's siblings together for a picture, since they live in different parts of the country it was a rather unique ocassion that they all got together.

While others took out their cell phones, I took out my little XA and exposed two frames. That was the only time I used the XA that day.

But it was worth it, the frame I chose from the two came out really nice and documents that quite (in more than one way) unique gathering of the family elders and the relatives who have seen the print have expressed, not their happiness obviously, but their beneplacit that the moment was so well preserved.

So to summarize my experience, take a camera, make it invisible so you're not misunderstood and use it only if you're asked to.

Last edited by stratcat : 02-08-2013 at 12:22. Reason: corrected spelling
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Old 02-08-2013   #10
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it really depends on how you approach the situation. if you knew the guy well enough i would say its ok as long as you respected the deceased and the people there. i wouldnt bring anything like a DSLR. something that doesnt make enough noise would be key imo.

i took photos while my grandma was dying in a hospital and i think thats one of the best decisions ive made.
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Old 02-08-2013   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aad View Post
I took many photos at my sister-in-law's funeral immediately after the ceremony. It documented a family that had been apart, and adult children of the deceased with truly difficult stories.

I made booklets of prints for the family members, including some lighter moments as the day progressed. They seemed to enjoy them.

Of course, they all knew me and the pictures at the site were posed group portraits. The candid photos were at a dinner later.

You will have to use your judgement-this is the human part of this hobby.
This is what I was saying...
After the service there is a meet/greet with surviving family.
have your friend ask as she introduces you if they would like group photo. No Setup, just a quick pose and snap.

I w/ siblings, had a few with my Parents friends and extended family at their funerals.
Just not during the ceremony.
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Old 02-08-2013   #12
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A few years ago, a friend's mother died.

I decided not even to leave a camera in the car, let alone take it with me.

A few months later, he said, "I wish someone had brought a camera..."

Late last year, an acquaintance died. I took pictures of the burial and the wake for his sister, who couldn't be there. His sister and friends really liked the pictures.

In other words, 'it depends'. Ask the family.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-08-2013   #13
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Personally I don't want anything to remind me how I've felt at funerals.
I've just printed some pictures of my fathers life long friend who sadly died just before xmas. I'd much rather remember him from these portraits than images in my head of him in a box.
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Old 02-08-2013   #14
taskoni
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To the OP: Have you ever shot funeral?
I wouldn't carry a camera on a funeral of a person I don't even know if I am not planing to use it.

Regards,

Boris
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Old 02-08-2013   #15
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I have taken photos at funerals on occasion, but ONLY if the deceased was a friend or a member of my family or my wife's family. This photo captures the untimely passing of a good friend's daughter.

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Old 02-08-2013   #16
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Taking a camera and using it are different. As several posters said, family may request photos at the last minute. Then you will be happy you have your camera.

Occasionally family will make requests beforehand, a least this is what I have read here and elsewhere. I would photograph a funeral by request but make certain all the principles were in agreement and that I understood exactly what they needed. This is a good idea at any event and even more important, I think, at a time when people are vulnerable.

Otherwise I would not have a camera visible or even carry a camera bag of any type.
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Old 02-08-2013   #17
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Put it this way. I'd not go to a funeral now without a camera within walking distance (in the car, usually). But I wouldn't have it around my neck.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-08-2013   #18
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Both of there are currently being exhibited. I knew both of the deceased but cannot honestly say were were close friends. I continue to photograph at funerals for documentary purposes with no hesitancy.

Two family members as well as the head Mason guy in the photo have asked for and received copies of this.



While no family member has asked for this photo, they certainly have no problems with me exhibiting it. But I did contribute to the cost of the funeral service. And, as the deceased was dying, she had a print of one of my photos from back in the days when she looked hot and all the men wanted to get into her pants.

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Old 02-08-2013   #19
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Just make certain that everyone knows you are there as a family friend. Otherwise someone might think that you are there from the FBI and that the deceased was an organized crime figure.
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Old 02-08-2013   #20
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I'd ask also. In my family, one of my aunts has a photo she took of my grandfather in the viewing room, open casket, and surrounded by flowers. There is also a photo of him sleeping on the couch in the den of the family home from the 1960's. It was requested by him because he wanted to see what he would look like when he was dead. Though they were taken thirty years apart, he looks remarkably the same.

There is a long history of photography and funerals.

Somewhere I have a photo of a great-great-grandmother in her open casket outside of a church. It was taken in Alabama in the 1920's.
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Old 02-08-2013   #21
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Thanks for all the advice. I think im gonna just leave one in the car, if I bring one at all. I didn't know the guy personally so it'd be kind of weird. I just haven't had to deal with any funerals since I've gotten into photography (luckily) and wasn't sure wha people generally did in the situation.
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Old 02-08-2013   #22
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it's a cultural thing.

it depends.
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Old 02-08-2013   #23
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When my great grandmother passed away I took photos digging the grave. and at the service with my XA. The roll is sitting around here somewhere.

But I probably wouldn't do it at someone I didn't really know.
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Old 02-08-2013   #24
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I say leave the camera at home unless the family requests that you document the event.
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Old 02-09-2013   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pablito View Post
it's a cultural thing.

it depends.
After my father died, several friends who have immigrated to the US asked if I had taken pictures. "No, why would I?"

The friend from rural Ireland said to mark, for better or worse, another event and gathering of the living family as a whole, which I think is beautiful perspective. See Irish wake. Another friend from the islands said that it is expected, to casually document the state of the deceased.

It's odd that we photograph the funerals of great people, such as presidents, prime ministers, and celebrities/sports heros, but feel uncomfortable doing so for the average person.

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