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Photographer at a funeral?

I’ve been working as a photographer for about 18 years now, and during that time I’ve had the privilege of documenting various subjects, everything from photographing shows, comedians, pantomimes, milestones and events in people’s lives. However, one aspect of my work that often sparks curiosity and sometimes even scepticism is photographing funerals. Today, I want to shed light on what it’s like to photograph funerals and the benefits of having someone there to capture these moments.

Creating a lasting visual record of your loved ones funeral can be really precious. Often, at times when emotions are running high it’s really difficult to take everything in. Remembering how beautiful the flowers looked, the friends and family that were there to show their support, how smart the funeral team were, and many other little details.

Every person is unique, and so is their funeral. As a photographer, my goal is to capture the essence of the individual being honoured. From the solemn rituals to the moments of laughter and heartfelt embraces, each photograph tells a story and contributes to the legacy of the departed. Photographs are a lovely way to look back and remember a day fondly; they can also be shared with those that perhaps cannot attend or even shared with the younger generation at a later date when they are able to understand more, as well as serving as a tangible reminder of the person’s life and the love shared by those who knew them.

Often I am asked, do I photograph the mourners or even the deceased? The answer to that question depends on the family and their wishes. Some people like to see photos of the guests, their family members and those in attendance. Funerals often involve cultural or religious traditions that hold deep significance for the family. Photographs provide a visual record of these rituals, allowing future generations to understand and appreciate their heritage. It’s a way of honouring the customs passed down through generations. With regards to photographing the deceased, it’s not something that I would automatically do but if a family asks me to, and it is an open casket funeral, then of course I would, and have taken many respectful photographs.

Being behind the lens at a funeral requires sensitivity and empathy. As a photographer, I strive to be a supportive presence for the grieving family and friends and be a part of the conductors team on the day. I work discreetly, capturing moments without intruding on a family’s privacy.

Do I ask people to pose for photographs? In short, no. Of course if the family have photos that they would like taken on the day then I’m happy to capture those, but the way the majority of funerals are captured is normally more of a reportage/documentary style.

Probably one of the most common questions that I’m asked is do I get upset? The answer to this question is tricky, because of course it’s upsetting to see family members grieving for their loved one, and I am always sad to see that, but I try to remain professional and do my very best to capture the beautiful elements of a loved ones final farewell.

In conclusion, photographing funerals is not about exploiting grief but rather about preserving memories, honouring traditions, and supporting the bereaved. It’s a privilege to document these moments of love, loss, and remembrance, knowing that the images captured will serve as a lasting tribute to those who have passed on.

So if you’d like to learn more about photography at a funeral or celebration of life please contact me and I’ll happily answer any questions.

Best Regards
Sarah x


(To check out some of the photos taken by Sarah have a browse around our website, the majority of images were taken by her)

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