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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Weddings & Other Family Events 
Thread started 06 Aug 2014 (Wednesday) 14:13
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Funeral Shoot Tips

 
BcuzofHisLuv
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Aug 06, 2014 14:13 |  #1

So I was asked by a friend if I could shoot her aunts funeral this Friday. It will be my first funeral shoot and I want to give them as much respect as possible. I had the opportunity to visit the deceased and pray for her at the hospital 2 weeks before she departed into eternity. They are a Christian family and see death a little different than everyone else, so I know it won't be as emotional as other funerals. If you have done a funeral before, please share some tips on positioning and being as discreet as possible. Thanks!


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Amadauss
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Aug 06, 2014 22:45 |  #2

I am "dying" to read the responses to this request. No pun intended.


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BcuzofHisLuv
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Aug 06, 2014 23:00 |  #3

LOL. A lot of people are afraid of death & I know it's awkward. The most important thing is that you have your ticket to heaven which is ONLY through Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. It's a paid job and I was the first person they asked. The majority of the family lives out of the states and can't make it so they wanted to photograph the event. I knew it would be hard to get tips because it's very rare to shoot one & the majority of photographers will skip the job. Christian funerals are not the same as a normal funeral. A Christian actually looks forward to departing from the physical world and enter into the spiritual world for eternity. I am "dying" to hear the responses too :)

Amadauss wrote in post #17081212 (external link)
I am "dying" to read the responses to this request. No pun intended.


Just my camera and I :cool:

  
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kjonnnn
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Aug 06, 2014 23:19 |  #4

I've done quite a few.

- Make sure the immediate family actually wants you there, not just some extended family relative.
- Dress the part
- If you have to use flash, use it before the service actually starts. I never use it during the actual service.
- Use a wide angle to get a view of the people there, to document the event. (Front to back, vice versa)
- Use a long lens to get groups of family and friends sitting together. (Funerals and Weddings are the only two events that out of town relatives really get together)
- Try NOT to get someone in extreme grief.
- If you must move around, during before the eulogy.
- If there are going to be speakers, or a solist, find a perch to get one or two shots of them.

Many funerals, (at least in my experience) are more of a celebration of life, rather than the grief striken types you see on tv, so some can be quite festive events, lots of singing, music, (funny) storytelling. Depends on the family. If its an older person who has been ill, most are ready, in a sense, or have prepared for their passing. Kids and tragic accidents are the worse.

Its not much different than a wedding, you just try to be invisible and less of a distraction. Capture the event.

The same rules apply if you're asked to go to the cemetery.

If there is Repast, you may be asked take photos of individuals and groups of family who havent seen each other in a while.




  
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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Aug 07, 2014 08:46 |  #5

I think your impressions about funerals are misguided. I've seen funerals for atheists at which there isn't much mourning but rather celebration of their life; and I've seen funerals for christian folk at which there was much expression of sadness and tears. My suggestion would be to cover whatever you see rather than covering some prefabricated narrative that you have regarding how people should behave.

BcuzofHisLuv wrote in post #17081228 (external link)
LOL. A lot of people are afraid of death & I know it's awkward. The most important thing is that you have your ticket to heaven which is ONLY through Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. It's a paid job and I was the first person they asked. The majority of the family lives out of the states and can't make it so they wanted to photograph the event. I knew it would be hard to get tips because it's very rare to shoot one & the majority of photographers will skip the job. Christian funerals are not the same as a normal funeral. A Christian actually looks forward to departing from the physical world and enter into the spiritual world for eternity. I am "dying" to hear the responses too :)



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cameragal1
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Aug 07, 2014 09:19 |  #6

Hi, I have done quite a few and they were difficult - One was for a family with 8 children, 1/2 of the children were mad that I was there the other half was grateful....After all was said and done, they were all happy that I was there and was able to capture the moments for them. Sometimes, it is the last time or the first time people will see each other in years...I always photograph the greetings and departures outside and then just discretely get photos of the ceremony as best as I can without intruding on their grief.

It is a moving experience to photograph because you are a spectator at a very emotional time in these peoples lives - they feel vulnerable and so I try not to be noticed when shooting.

Hope this helps.

Diane




  
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Tigerkn
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Aug 07, 2014 10:16 |  #7

I have done a couple and it was not difficult. What kjonnnn said are very good details.
Here are my key points: Dress the part, walk quietly and no flash all day. Be a ninja and bring some tissue for yourself, I cried.

Here are some sample from the dearest Tim Park (POTN's member):
http://www.timparkphot​ography.com/hibino-memorial.html (external link)


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rivas8409
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Aug 07, 2014 13:20 |  #8

Christopher Steven b wrote in post #17081764 (external link)
I think your impressions about funerals are misguided. I've seen funerals for atheists at which there isn't much mourning but rather celebration of their life; and I've seen funerals for christian folk at which there was much expression of sadness and tears. My suggestion would be to cover whatever you see rather than covering some prefabricated narrative that you have regarding how people should behave.

I coudn't agree more. Without taking this thread too far off topic I found the OP's statement a little offensive. I grew up christian but at my grandfather's funeral we were all mourning...tears, sadness...we lost our grandfather in this life. ...half of the anchor of our family...we mourned. Does that mean we're afraid of death? No! But it is a tough day for the surviving family. Yes, we celebrated his life AFTER the burial and shared our memories and laughed, but we didn't have a huge fiesta at the funeral. I mean really OP, what is a "normal funeral" in comparison to a christan funeral? You don't really have to answer that.... I really don't think it's human nature to celebrate the death of a loved one, chirstian or not. We don't go around saying, "Oh it's great that so-an-so died today! Let's party!" ...........

So back to the topic. You're being paid to shoot this funeral so approach it like any other job. Be professional, be polite, and be aware of the family's grief and mourning that they will be going through. And unless they ask you to, I don't think photos of the deceased laying in the coffin would be appropriate. But hey, maybe someone who shoots funerals regularly can counter that. Maybe it's a "must have" shot, I don't know. I think a long lens would be your best friend here so you can stay out of the way and not be noticed. Oh, and if your camera has a silent shutter mode this would be a good time to use it. As mentioned already by someone else I would also verify that you are actually wanted there. And ask specifics about what they want photographed. Maybe they just want the family gathering photographed, but not the actual funeral service or burial. You need specifics considering the sensitive nature of the job.


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TooManyShots
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Aug 09, 2014 14:04 |  #9
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I think it depends on the religion. My grandma recently passed away and I was at her funeral and the burial next day. She is Chinese and pesudo Buddhist. I wasn't close to her and I didn't cry or anything. I also practice Taoist, Buddhist cultivation and so I understand that death is just another journey of the self to seek the final liberation.

Frankly, from the photography perspective, it was boring. It wasn't sad but it was just a lot of bowing and incense burning. The funeral service was long. It was from 3pm to 7pm. After all the family members paid their respects, we have to sit around for another 3 hours waiting for other guests to show up. Here, you began to see family members relaxing, chatting, talking, and laughing. With about an hour and 30 minutes into the funeral service, 2 Buddhist monks showed up in order to perform the short version of the bardo rituals.

The next day, the burial, the body was buried in a cemetery some 50 minutes drive away from NYC. A lot of bowing and incense burning.

Again, Chinese people are by nature a conservative bunch. They like to celebrate joy but less so with death.

One thing though....this is the time for the entire family and all of the extended family members to come together even if they haven't been seeing one another for over decades. :) It was the case with our family. Personally, it was embarrassing that the entire family with several generations could only come together during my grandma's funeral. Not when she was still alive.


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BcuzofHisLuv
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Aug 09, 2014 15:53 |  #10

Thanks for you comments, tips, and suggestions. Everyone was ok with me being there and It turned out better than I anticipated. The place was small, the light was lower than I expected & I had to shoot at 6400 ISO wide open of course. I was only able to shoot from the back but managed to get some decent shots. Thanks everyone!


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