View Full Version : Funeral Photographs - Disrespectful?
Speaker for the Dead
08-15-2003, 06:53 PM
This is kind of an odd question - just something that seeing One Hour Photo made me think of.
Let's say a relative died (someone I was reasonably close to). You (as a friend of both of us) happened to be at the funeral. Would you consider it disrespectful if I took pictures (not of the body, of course! Of people.)?
08-15-2003, 07:00 PM
Well, here in California, it's not entirely uncommon to stage the funeral/memorial service as a more upbeat "celebration of [the deceased's] life."
Photos of an event like that probably wouldn't be inappropriate, but one should still ask permission first.
08-15-2003, 08:47 PM
It depends entirely on the manner of the deceased's parting, IMO.
My grandmother died after a long decade + of suffering from alzheimer's. Her funeral was the first time any of us had seen her so peaceful in ages. We took pictures and we treasure them to this day. She was beautiful.
My cousin just died a few months ago. He was 19, and was crushed in the backseat of a car after the driver lost control, and flipped a few times. There was no open casket, but even if there was pictures would not have been appropriate.
I don't consider taking pictures in and of itself disrespectful or creepy, but there are times and places where it is more or less appropriate than others.
08-15-2003, 08:50 PM
I realize I didn't answer the OP:
Regarding taking pictures of the mourners, again, it would depend on the tone and tenor of the situation. In a 'celebration of life' situation, where there is a sense of joyful rememberance, I don't see a problem. We were the only ones taking pictures at my grandmother's funeral, and we've since had other family members and friends ask for copies.
When the mourners are obviously still having problems coming to terms with their grief, it would be incredibly disrespectful.
08-15-2003, 09:02 PM
not at all not like the dead guy's going to care to much either
08-15-2003, 09:04 PM
No, absolutely not. In fact, prior to the latter half of the 20th century, mortuary photographs were quite common.
08-15-2003, 09:38 PM
My dad's kin are Manitoba Ukranian. When grandpa died I just about joined him when grandma came into the viewing room with her instamatic and started taking snaps of him in the coffin. I thought that was just grandma being weird, but when my mom died, the M-U cousins started trying to pose us around the gravesite for a few shots of us looking mournfully at the casket. I, of course, ran away screaming and leapt into the Pond Of Remembrance head first. I have heard reports from other perogie-country refugees that the clan-around-the-casket photo is quite common, though.
Maybe picture taking at the funeral/graveyard is a bit icky but if there is a wake (reception? snack bar? what do you call those post-funeral gatherings?) afterwards, that may be your time.
08-15-2003, 11:03 PM
After my mother died my sister and I came across a photograph of our grandmother in her coffin. Now keep in mind it was mixed with a jumble of tintypes and ancient photos neither of us could identify. She died when both of us were quite young but our mom--or somebody--found remembrance in it.
But having recently been to a funeral of friend I've come to the conclusion that facing death is a soul-quake no matter what. I winced away from the coffin because the corpse was and wasn't my friend. It's probably the "last glimpse" thing but damned if I can figure out what's healthy or real.
My visceral reaction is yuk but if floats someone's boat, more power to 'em. It isn't like the guest of honor knows or cares.
08-16-2003, 02:51 AM
Memento Mori: Death and Photography in Nineteenth Century America (http://www.cmp.ucr.edu/terminals/memento_mori/), by Dan Meinwald.
I can't believe that's butter!
08-16-2003, 03:01 AM
I'm against photography at any point within 1,000 feet of a funeral, barring enclosures.
08-16-2003, 03:26 AM
My grandparents on my mother's side are Mennonites. They have tons of death photos of relatives who passed on long before I was born (and going right up to the present day). One scintillating afternoon I got to look through all of them while my grandparents argued about who each photo was. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that cameras and funerals don't mix.
08-16-2003, 06:01 PM
A friend took photos at my son's funeral. I don't remember him asking permission beforehand. I was in such a state of shock at the time that without the photos, I honestly wouldn't know who had come to the funeral. It really helped me in the next few months to have those photos. Ambrose died on Friday, was born on Tuesday and the funeral was on Thursday. It was very rushed.
With a death that is more expected and less shocking, I'm not sure I'd want photos of the funeral. I don't find them disrespectful at all but I don't know why you'd want them.
When I die, the photos of Ambrose and all the memorabilia will go in my coffin. I doubt that my living children would want them. They're so precious to me and I cannot imagine they will be as precious to anyone else.
08-16-2003, 10:29 PM
My grandfather died about three years ago, and we weren't close. At the funeral there were some relatives of his and dad's that I'd never met. They shocked the hell out of me by whipping out a camera and snapping pictures of the casket, the headstone etc. I'm pretty sure that I'm against that sort of thing because it seemed very wrong for reasons I've never quite been able to explain.
08-16-2003, 11:11 PM
Can't be any tackier than a drive-thru funeral home (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/roger/QueryTips.php3?tip.AttractionName=funeral&tip.Town=pensacola).
When my brother-in-law died, my niece asked me to take a photo of her father in his casket. I was reluctant, but told her I'd ask the funeral director for his okay (hoping for a way out) and if he thought it was all right, then I'd do it.
To my surprise, he told me that it was quite common for relatives to ask for a picture of the deceased, and what he typically did was to take the photo on a separate roll of film and then keep the labeled roll without developing the picture. He said that he wouldn't mention it to the relative again, but that the roll would be waiting for them should they ever decide to claim it, and also said that most people never did. He said he had rolls of film from funerals twenty years ago that had never been requested.
My niece has never, to my knowledge, asked for the film.
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