Photographers are often given the privilege to carry out their work in many sensitive and complicated situations. Regardless of the environment that they are placed in they still need to photograph what is required of them while being completely aware of what’s happening around them. And, possibly one of the most challenging environments to work in is at a funeral service.
There aren’t many people who would like the grief of saying goodbye to a loved one documented on camera but some wish to hold onto the memory and celebrate the life of the one they lost. Many even consider funeral photography as cruel as its capturing people during their time of grief. Regardless of that, if somebody has hired a photographer to work at a funeral, then they need to get the job done.
Kept the Nature of Work in Mind and Be Sensitive
The first tip is an obvious one due to the nature of the work. But as a photographer, you may get caught up or carried away with getting the perfect short. But remember the environment you are in and always try to remind yourself to keep your distance from the subject of which you are trying to capture. Photographing a funeral can be the hardest job during your career because you need be as invisible as possible and not draw much attention to yourself while trying to get the best quality photos as possible. Grief can often be let out as anger, and the last thing you want to do is upset a family member during their time of grief.
You Must Work Without Your Flash Off as Much As Possible
Like previously mentioned you must try to remain as invisible as possible and nothing will draw attention on your more than using flash when taking the photos. However, this means you can take full advantage of all the natural light which is an excellent skill to have as a photographer. In the worst-case scenario and if you don’t have any other choice, try to be as subtle as possible if you are going to use the flash.
A standard lens that you can use when taking photos at a funeral is a 50mm f/1.4. These lenses are brilliant performers and can capture great looking photos in the event of low light. A good thing to do when photographing a funeral is to pack as light as possible so that your equipment doesn’t draw attention to yourself. But, it is always good to carry a few different lenses with you as it might be the first time you have visited the location, so you need to make sure you have the tools to do the job to the best of your ability.
Have an Open Means of Communication
Always try to have an excellent means of communication with the person who hired you to photograph the funeral. The primary purpose of this is to understand what they expect from your services and to have a clear understanding of what photos and areas are out of bounds. For example, they want the entire funeral service to be captured but under no circumstances do they want pictures showing the body of the deceased or the coffin of which they rest in. This means of communication will help you get the job done better and having the client’s expectations known means that you don’t need to draw attention to yourself.
Try Not to Be Presumptuous
Due to the nature of the work, it is crucial that you don’t come across as insensitive. Yes, you are there to do a job but be aware of how the attendees of service are feeling. For example, when you arrive at the location of the funeral service don’t enter the premises with all of your equipment. You should always try to introduce yourself to the person who hired you and pay your respects to them and their family. This will be comforting to the family and will leave fewer assumptions.
Have Self-Confidence and Believe in Yourself
Being in such an environment can often make photographers uncomfortable — however, it is essential that you always remain confident and try not to doubt your abilities. The job might seem a little bit scary if it’s the first time that you have been asked to do photography at a funeral service. But, don’t forget that in the world of photography everything is subject to documentation.
Being asked to work at a funeral service can be a great privilege as you are being trusted to document the final goodbye of somebody who was truly loved by their family and friends. The photos that you take will be something that your client and their family look back on and think about the times that they had with that person.