I was speaking to a young friend last weekend about my Funeral Photography. He was trying to get his head around the fact that I wanted to take images, and how passionate I was about doing so. I explained that I viewed my work as a service - I am providing a service for grieving families - and I show them how the funeral went, from my point of view.
For example, I photographed a friend of a friend’s funeral, she was in her mid-forties and left 3 teenagers and a distraught husband behind. Naturally they sat up the front of the church, but what they didn't know, was there were approx another 300mourners outside the church, coming to pay their respects.
I took photos of the crowd outside knowing the family would be surprised at the large capacity. Later, he thanked me over and over, saying: "Patty, I had no idea. I had NO idea!"
He was so grateful for my images, and a beautiful album for his teenage children to remember their mum's funeral by.
In a funeral I photographed a couple of weeks ago, the young adult daughter was visibly distressed after her father's funeral. I say on my website that private grief is not intruded on, so I thought, I won't go there, we all deserve to grieve in our own way, and in our own time.
There is no right or wrong, so I continued to train my camera on the coffin.
To my delight, family friends came and began to touch, and then kiss his coffin, with much love and tenderness.
She saw nothing of this, as her face was covered. It was my job, to see what she didn't see.
I hope one day she can take the time to view the DVD and understand the respect shown to her father. It might be next week, it might be on the first anniversary of passing, it might be in 10 years time, but one day, she will be able to see it, and understand.