Sensitive Funeral Photography

Documentary Photography by Allister Freeman


The thought of commissioning a professional funeral photographer might, at first, make you a little uncomfortable. In truth, I took some convincing prior to photographing my first funeral for a friend and I don’t think I’ve ever been so worried about upsetting people’s feelings through photography.

Funerals are full of very real, particularly raw emotions. I knew I had to tread a fine line between tasteful documentary funeral photos and being seen to be taking advantage of people's vulnerability, just for the sake of a strong and emotive documentary image.

I soon realised that I had nothing to worry about. The collection of images, which were mainly black and white, was gratefully received. These images, which represent my interpretation of the day, sensitively document a celebration of life, respects paid and emotional goodbyes.

Moments photographed are delicate - the bond between family and friends as they help each other through the day, the smiles on faces as stories are told, the respect and reverence from the funeral directors, and of course the love reflected all around. It’s truly humbling.

The role of a discrete documentary funeral photographer is, obviously, to be as respectful to a situation as possible. Someone who knows how not to become a focal point or a distraction - a photographer you only remember for the beautiful documentary photography and professionalism, not the awkward situations and reactions as a consequence of their presence. This is about capturing moments and making memories for all to look back on in years to come.

Many people just aren’t sure about how photography would be received on the day, or even too embarrassed to ask family and fiends if they would agree to commission a photographer. Approaching the taboo of actually talking about death, is tough, really tough. Sensitive photography, that authentically documents real moments, allows this process to be broached with a little more ease but importantly, with taste and with dignity.

If you have any questions whatsoever, simply get in touch