Finnish Funeral Photography

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coltsmild
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Finnish Funeral Photography

Post by coltsmild » Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:47 pm

My girlfriend's grandfather passed away and we are to attend the funeral. My gf's mother asked me to be the photographer for the funeral, and out of respect, I accepted the request.

The idea of shooting photographs at a funeral is as alien to me as eating Mämmi for Easter, and I would feel uncomfortable taking pictures of people's distress and emotional outbreak.

Could anyone shed some light as to the etiquette of the photographer and what to take especially?


Thanks



Finnish Funeral Photography

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AnnikaL
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Re: Finnish Funeral Photography

Post by AnnikaL » Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:22 pm

I think you can photograph the coffin, decorated with the flowers, you can photograph the people. People will look solemn - don't ask anyone to say cheese. Be unobtrusive, but don't take pictures without people's consent, you might find that people ask for their picture to be taken so you don't have to approach them directly. Play it by ear, of course, because all families are different. I'd also not make a big deal out of how weird you find it, because it's not really weird, why should death be treated as though it doesn't happen?
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AnnikaL
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Re: Finnish Funeral Photography

Post by AnnikaL » Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:23 pm

As for the distress and emotional outbreak, I'm guessing you might be surprised at a stoic formality and lack of open weeping, too. At least this is what it is like at my families funerals, but as I say everyone's different.
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onkko
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Re: Finnish Funeral Photography

Post by onkko » Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:05 am

I dont think there is any etiquette in general so i talk about how i think.
As said picture of coffin and pictures when people carry it (you know, 6 close relatives probably males who actually carry coffin in grave) pictures of them carrying and "dropping" it to grave, and pictures when people go to coffin and lay flowers on it and maybe say few words are what you are supposed to take. Of course you also take pictures of priest saying "“Maasta sinä olet tullut, maaksi pitää sinun jälleen tuleman" (from earth you came and to earth you shall become?) and he also pours little of dirt to coffin while saying that.

TLDR Take lot of pictures.

Here is video of funeral.

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Jukka Aho
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Re: Finnish Funeral Photography

Post by Jukka Aho » Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:09 am

coltsmild wrote:The idea of shooting photographs at a funeral is as alien to me as eating Mämmi for Easter, and I would feel uncomfortable taking pictures of people's distress and emotional outbreak.
Could anyone shed some light as to the etiquette of the photographer and what to take especially?
The idea is not to document “people's distress and emotional outbreak” but rather to document the people who were there, paying their last respects for the deceased – especially those small groups of people (the groups are typically by family or other such relation) who go up to the front of the chapel, next to the casket, to leave their floral arrangement there. They will bow their heads and someone who was assigned as the speaker of the group will read aloud their last farewells from the banner attached to the flower arrangement, as is the usual custom.

Also, the family would probably like you to document the general atmosphere (time of day, season at the time of funeral, how the chapel looked like both outside and inside, flower arrangements), and any special numbers during the funeral service, such as someone giving a musical performance of some sort.

One thing that is typically always “documented” in the pictures is the part where the casket is moved out of the church and down to the cemetery, and especially when it is carried to the graveside by six male members of the family and lowered down to the grave... as well as the part of the graveside ceremony where the minister pours some sand on the casket (just like Onkko said.)

When leaving the cemetery, the attendees are usually invited to a more informal family gathering where food and coffee will be served and speeches will be given. In this gathering, mood will usually lighten up already; especially if the death was due to old age and natural causes and there was nothing particularly tragic about the situation. People will converse freely and, in their speeches, reminisce their dealings and shared history with the deceased person, telling anecdotes about him – sometimes even quite funny ones (there might be a burst of laughter or two, even if people are sad about their loss.) In this gathering, you can take pictures just like in any family event. Best to take a photograph of each group of people sitting at a different table, to document their presence – and the family would usually also want to have the buffet table documented (what was served in the gathering, how it was all laid out.) There will also be a small table with a picture of the deceased person and a candle on it; take a picture of that arrangement.

Many families even arrange the funeral service, the graveside ceremony, and the speeches in the informal mourning-gathering be videotaped (usually by some relative), so they can view the tapes (DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, memory cards, ...) later on and listen to the speeches again, in order not to miss anything that was told about the history of the deceased person and which they might not have known about him even as close relatives.

You’re not likely to see any display of strong emotions in a Finnish funeral unless there was something tragic about the circumstances of death. Silent weeping at most. Of course, you’d want to treat people with respect in this regard. But then again, a member of family who is asked to take some photos in a funeral service will often take them from the position where he’s sitting in the chapel. Photographers documenting funerals rarely go to the front of the chapel to take close-ups of the faces of the close family members during the service... or at least I don’t recall that happening!

You might want to take a look at the the previous discussion on FInnish funerals and funeral photography. And check out the related link to “Phil’s blog” (“Finland for Thought”) mentioned in that thread as well.
Last edited by Jukka Aho on Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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onkko
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Re: Finnish Funeral Photography

Post by onkko » Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:43 am

Jukka Aho wrote:carried to the graveside by six male members of the family
This is one i poked my granma, she is "pro equality" but still when we buried her brother, who were lone withouth family, there "had to be 6 males of family" so i and my stepfather were ones to carry even if there were more close female relatives available. According to her "of course carriers have to be a mens, womens just dont do it!" :)
Same was in my mothers burial but there possible candidades to carry were mostly man (siblings and sons).
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Pursuivant
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Re: Finnish Funeral Photography

Post by Pursuivant » Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:06 pm

The idea is to have "group photos" of people, and when they lay the wreaths. KVG
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Something wicked this way comes."


coltsmild
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Re: Finnish Funeral Photography

Post by coltsmild » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:21 pm

Thank you all for your responses. I have taken into heart what was said. It has really helped a lot and has made me more comfortable of what to expect and what to take.

Cheers!


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