I've just been asked to photograph a funeral this friday. The scattering of ashes, a celebration of life. I said yes straight away. The "guest of honour" was a damn fine man who loved a joke and a story and brought up two good, hard working, honest lads and made his wife proud everyday. A tight knit family with grandkids that adored their pop.
When asked if I could record the event I was never going to say no, but I was really happy when the "service" was outlined to me. He was not a god fearing, church going, man. But a man who held the beach close to his heart so when told it was a beachside affair I was really pleased the family had chosen to avoid the trappings of the sad "funeral home" type service in favour of a community celebration of a life well lived. The order of service is finalised......and it will be casual and comfortable. Informal is a good term. I have my role in the day organised, planned in a single phone call, set in stone. From the shot list I know what gear I will need and where I need to be at what part of the celebration. Planning makes it all very easy and, for me, it will be good to keep busy.
I have photographed a few funerals in the past. Some family, some work related and some just because the haze of grief is often so strong a physical reminder is needed. I am usually asked to record the event when distance is a factor or aged relatives, too unwell to undertake the journey, want to be a part of it. The final images are a way for those people to see the crowd and give them, even in absentia, some closure. I have also photographed the casket topper flowers to be made into thank you cards. There are printers here in Australia that will do a short quick print run and the card can have specific names and dates on the reverse. I know a few other photographers who also have been asked to record such events, but I hope it never becomes a commercialised trend.
So if you see me pointing a camera at you on friday arvo don't hide. Stand and be proud and know that the family will be glad to see your face.