Deaths, like any other moment in your personal history, deserve to be remembered,
and photos of a funeral can bring you some comfort in the trying months to come.
But funerals also deserve extra care and respect. If you casually take
photos next to the casket, you'll likely offend more than a few guests
Two Photo-Appropriate Situations
With advances in technology, you can take high-quality photos in seconds
with your camera phone or tablet. But just because you
can snap a selfie, doesn't mean that you
As a general rule, keep your portable camera in your pocket, and only bring
out your lens in the following situations.
1. The Family Members Request It
Depending on the type of funeral and the personality of the family, some
individuals may request that you professionally capture the event. In
these cases, the family will likely specify whether they want images of
the deceased, of family members and friends, or just the grave site and
the memorial setting.
2. The Photos Happen Before or After the Service
At some funerals, family members and friends gather from all across the
globe to pay tribute to the deceased. They might not have a lot of time
for socializing, but they may want a quick group photo or two to help
them remember the moment.
Though a large group photo during the memorial service would distract everyone
involved, you can take a few smaller photos before and after the funeral.
In these photos, you'll want to find a quiet, out-of-the-way corner
so you don't interrupt other guests and visitors.
3 Tips to Follow When Taking Funeral Photos
If you must take photos during a funeral, you should exercise some restraint
and follow these simple rules.
1. Give the Grieving Their Privacy
Even if the immediate family members hire you to take photos, remember
that not everyone will want to participate. Many individuals will feel
distressed, lost, or overwhelmed during the funeral, and they'd rather
grieve in private silence.
Do not pressure anyone into letting you take their picture, and let participants
know that they can feel comfortable saying "no."
2. Watch Where You Step
As a photographer, your first inclination might be to find the perfect
position where you can get the best framing and lighting for your picture.
In everyday circumstances, that ideal position may involve standing on
chairs, crouching in the middle of hallways, and squeezing into tight places.
But at a funeral, your first priority should always be the comfort of the
guests. You don't want to hold up the line at the viewing just so
you can get a better shot of the flowers on the casket. You shouldn't
step over (or on) other gravestones to photograph the family. Nor should
you open up the casket yourself to take a photo of the deceased.
3. Avoid the Flash As Much As Possible
Some services take place in a quiet family church, mortuary, or funeral
home, and many of these locations have dim lighting. Though the lighting
may feel soothing to those in attendance, it can make your photos look
washed out and blurry.
Despite lighting limitations, however, you should keep flash use to a minimum.
The bright, sudden light will attract attention and detract from the overall
service. To accommodate for dim lighting, lower your aperture settings instead.
When in Doubt, Ask (Respectfully)
Though the above tips can help you maintain proper etiquette, keep in mind
that not everyone feels the same way about funeral photography. If you
ever wonder if your photos would be appropriate for the setting, discreetly
and respectfully ask those around you for guidance. They'll let you
know what is and isn't appropriate at the time.