We all know it is very common for people to hire photographers to document important life events like births and weddings, but what about funerals? While hiring a photographer for a funeral is nothing new, it is understandably less popular than the aforementioned events. However, while still not commonplace, the service has seen a bit of an uptick in popularity in recent years.
The decision to hire a professional funeral photographer is highly personal and will depend on the individual and the final wishes of the decedent. It will also depend on the family’s attitude toward end-of-life. Is it right for you? Consider the pros and cons of professional funeral photography as you make your decision.
Advantages of Professional Photography
Funerals are often considered to be an important rite of passage and a celebration of someone’s life. In many cases, funerals present a rare opportunity for entire families to gather together. A professional photographer can help document the rarity of such an occasion while capturing the positive side of the range of emotions that come with celebrating someone’s life.
Professional funeral photography does not necessarily have to document a family’s grief but rather unity in celebrating a loved one’s fulfilling life. Should you choose to hire a funeral photographer, be clear in your expectations and which aspects of the occasion you want to be documented.
Keep in mind that a funeral photographer does not necessarily need to photograph the funeral itself, or the burial. Usually, families will have a photographer focus on either the viewing (with an emphasis on family interactions rather than grief) or on a repast or other post-funeral reception (which is often a bit lighter-hearted than the other parts of the ceremony).
As an alternative, you can consider having a photographer at a separate event related to the life of the deceased. For example, some families will have a celebration of life ceremony separate from (or instead of) the funeral itself. Others might later hold a ceremony to dedicate a tree, scholarship, or other memorials in the name of the deceased. These types of events are generally very positive and have a lighter environment that could be worth capturing.
Disadvantages of Professional Funeral Photography
The main disadvantage of hiring a professional photographer for a funeral ceremony is that you face the possibility of experiencing grief each time you look through the photos. Again, you’ll want to be upfront with your photographer about your expectations. For example, rather than focusing on the expressions of grief and the ceremony itself, you may choose to have a photographer visit the viewing and document interactions between family members and friends.
The other possible disadvantage is that a photographer could seem disruptive to guests and the funeral proceeding itself. By discussing these considerations with the photographer ahead of time, you’ll often find that professionals have plans in place to photograph your event without appearing distracting or inconsiderate.
The decision to hire a professional funeral photographer depends on the personal philosophy of your family and the final wishes of the decedent. If executed with proper planning and vetting of candidates, a funeral photographer can provide lasting memories of the celebration of a loved one’s life.