Funeral Photography: Capturing Final Goodbyes With Care

Published September 8, 2020
woman with flowers on a funeral

Whether you are a professional photographer or were asked by the family to take a few photos of the funeral, there are some key funeral photography tips to keep in mind. Because funerals tend to be highly emotionally-charged events, being respectful is of the utmost importance.

Funeral Photography

For some, capturing beautiful moments at a funeral can be meaningful in cherishing the life of their recently passed loved one. If you've been asked to photograph a funeral, be sure to prepare yourself accordingly, and touch base with the family so you can understand their wishes.

What to Photograph at a Funeral

While the family who hired or asked you to photograph may have specific asks in terms of what to photograph, in general you may want to consider capturing:

  • Floral arrangements
  • Gifts
  • The officiator of the ceremony speaking
  • The backs of people comforting each other, holding hands, and hugging
  • Images of the coffin- if it's an open casket, be sure to ask beforehand
  • Details of the venue
  • Any beautiful outdoor area
Coffin with funeral flowers

Take Funeral Photos Respectfully

Whether you are attending as a guest or professional photographer, be sure to dress according to the family's wishes. After being given specific permission to take photos or hired as a professional photographer, be sure to ask:

  • What will take place during the ceremony
  • If there's anything they don't want photographed
  • Which moments are the most important to capture
  • How discreet they'd like you to be
  • How long they'd like you to take photos

Professional Funeral Photography

Some photographers specialize in taking respectful photos at funerals. Funeral photography prices will vary based on your location, how long the photographer will be on site, and whether you add any additional services. If you're thinking of hiring a funeral photographer, be sure to meet with them beforehand to ensure you feel comfortable with them and to let them know what you're looking for in terms of captured moments.

Couple holding hands at a graveyard

Funeral Photo Etiquette

Taking photos at a funeral can be an incredibly intimate task, so be sure you feel emotionally prepared to do so professionally. In terms of etiquette:

  • Arrive on time or early, depending on what you've agreed upon with the family.
  • Dress in a way that allows you to blend in with the other guests.
  • Don't bring big bulky equipment with you that may disrupt the service and distract those attending.
  • Make sure your shutter is switched to silent and your flash is off.
  • Discreetly notify the family when you are finished and pass along your condolences again.
  • Reach out to the family to let them know an estimated time frame for their images.

Is It Disrespectful to Take Pictures at a Funeral?

If you haven't been given permission to do so, taking photos at a funeral can be disrespectful. If you don't have permission, it is unacceptable to take a picture of the deceased at the funeral, and some may be hurt by this behavior. If you don't have permission to take photos at a funeral, but would like to:

  • Be sure to ask the family respectfully ahead of time.
  • Do not post photos of you at the funeral or of the funeral on social media.
  • If you'd like to take pictures with someone from out of town or who you haven't seen in a while, do so very discreetly after the funeral.
  • If you feel any gut instinct about not taking a photo, don't.

Funerals can be extremely sensitive events, and it's important to respect those in mourning.

Gaining comfort from family

Is It Okay to Record Video at a Funeral?

If you haven't been asked to take a video at the funeral, it's best not to do so. If you'd like to take a video just for yourself, you'll still need to ask permission of the immediate family of the deceased individual if they are comfortable with you doing so.

What Should You Not Do at a Funeral?

If you haven't attended a funeral before, it's important to keep in mind appropriate funeral etiquette. Understanding what happens at a funeral can also help you better prepare yourself prior to attending one.

Photographing a Funeral

If you've been asked to snap a few photos or hired as a professional photographer, be sure to connect with the family beforehand to get their dos and don'ts in terms of what they're comfortable with you photographing.

Funeral Photography: Capturing Final Goodbyes With Care