When I was first approached about photographing a funeral, I honestly felt pretty conflicted. What would that feel like? How would people perceive me? What would they think? I wanted to respect the families' wishes, which was to hire me to document this time in their life, but I was also very apprehensive.
We all understand why people choose to hire a photographer for fall family photos, their wedding, newborn photos, and other key life events. We can get behind this idea and it is widely accepted. And for the most part, people know how to "behave" at these events. Funerals, on the other hand, are very unique and everyone processes their emotions in different ways. The thought of documenting a funeral service can be intriguing to some and appalling to others.
So, now that I've convinced you that hiring a funeral photographer is a terrible idea, let's explore the possibility that maybe it isn't the worst thing after all. In fact, it just might be the best thing to jump start the healing process.
Family and Friends Gathered together
When was the last time all of your closest family members and dearest friends were gathered in one room together? I'm going to guess it was at your wedding (which may have been many years ago.) I've been told by the families I've photographed that they are so thankful for these photos so they can see who all was in attendance. During a funeral, we are so wrapped up in what is happening in the moment that we may not even remember who came to give their respect to the family. With a professional photographer on site, you can take time between planned events to record family history by getting a photo of all of the cousins in the family, for example.
Celebrate the legacy, forever
When done with respect and sensitivity, this type of photography can provide lasting memories for the immediate family to reflect back on over the years. Planning the perfect day to honor the person you love the most can be an overwhelming and daunting task, but it's important to have a way to look back on the day and have some type of closure. Once family and friends make their way out of town and the quiet sets in, you will be left with the memories of your family's love and support. An heirloom photo album just might be the perfect way to relive the day as you look through images of your dearest friends and family members demonstrating their love and support for you during this hard time.
Begin the healing process
We all go through the grieving process after the loss of a loved one and some of us can get "stuck" in different phases along the way. We may live in denial for many months, or harbor anger or regret for the words we said, or never got the chance to say. The day of the funeral can elicit so many emotions from each family member since they just lost someone close to them as recently as a few days before. We fluctuate from one emotion to another and everyone processes these emotions differently. With a few weeks' buffer between the funeral and receiving their portraits, family members are able to relive the day with fresh eyes and often a glad heart. They see the love and support of their loved ones who joined them and may be able to begin the healing process of grieving the loss of the most important person in the world to them.
Ultimately, each family will have to decide if this type of photography is the right choice for them. It may or may not be, and either way, it is okay. Each deciding family member should determine whether or not this is something they would want for themselves and their own family, and then talk through the various pros and cons.
In loving memory of Tom Trimble, Georgia Williams, and Norma Force.
Interested in learning more?
I'd be happy to setup a complimentary consultation or phone call to answer any questions you have about this type of photography.
I am available for hire within 40 miles of DFW for funeral photography. I'd be happy to discuss the two options I offer families for this type of photography. If you would like more information, please fill out the contact form below and I'll get back to you within 24 hours. I look forward to meeting you and learning more about how I can support you during this difficult time.