Vulture-Opportunist or Valuable Service?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by marta_cajiao, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Is being a Bereavement Photographer good business or woulkd you say I am taking advantage of the grieving family? I say I am providing a valuable service but have been getting some very different qanswers to this? Any opinions?
  2. It is a valuable human service in terms of promoting good will and compassion by documenting this difficult passage. But at least in the U.S. it's difficult to imagine there is a viable market for selling such a service. There is already a volunteer organization that coordinates the services of experienced photographers who are willing to donate their time and service, at least to families of children who have died or are dying.
    Otherwise, the era of portrait photographers taking on bereavement assignments as a sideline is pretty much a quaint memory from a previous century.
    The purpose of your question is unclear to me. In another thread you have already stated that you are currently engaged in bereavement photography. So are you asking for advice or seeking affirmation that you are doing the right thing?
  3. Funeral directors have to deal with much the same issues. It's possible on the one hand to make more money on incidentals by playing on the beliefs and often the guilt feelings of grieving families, and on the other hand to offer better deals by such tactics as stacking up the coffins in a single plot. There are also very caring persons who are able to support grievants through a very difficult process in an appropriate manner. It's not what you do, but how you do it.
  4. Marta, If I was going to head into this kind of business (and I wouldn't, because death isn't my passion), I'd focus on creating photo books, collecting images and stories about the deceased, and putting it together in book for via,, Mpix, etc., and selling that service.
  5. Marta, I don't intend to be mean here, but to me there is something not quite right about a person not related to the bereved family coming in and making images of the dead for profit.
  6. Things seem to go around in circles. I find myself being asked more and more to video services for the families of the deceased. I don't charge by the way. And I only do it in my own church where we already have everything set up. But if it's a person and/or family who is not a member, they are required to make a donation. not much, like $30. People are already kicking out $10,000 or more on everything else, I wouldn't want to be an extra burden in their time of grief.
  7. [[Marta, I don't intend to be mean here, but to me there is something not quite right about a person not related to the bereved family coming in and making images of the dead for profit.]]
    To me there is something not quite right about assuming everyone in the world thinks about death the same way you do.
  8. something not quite right about a person not related to the bereved family coming in and making images of the dead for profit.​
    I entirely understand where this sentiment is coming from, but i think some thought about profiting by death is called for.
    Those who are already profiting include the funeral home, the funeral director, the casket Mfgr, the casket sakes rep, the grave digger, the vault mfgr, the flower shops, the people who raise the flowers, the hearse mfgr, the hearse salesman, the cleaners who clean the church after the service....
    Obviously, this list could go on and on.
    If photographic memories of the 'event' are desired by the family, is one wrong to provide this service? Does the service suddenly have no value because someone died?
    Marta, while I can imagine all sorts of ways for someone with no class to get extremely tacky and distasteful about this, I have to believe that there is nothing wrong with offering/providing the service to those who desire it. This is likely a small market, but they deserve to be catered to by classy professionals.
  9. jtk


    Vultures provide valuable services to humanity. More valuable than priests, certainly.
  10. jtk


    ...not only that, but reading your description of your services on another thead, it seemed to me that you were involved in a potentially highly personally rewarding kind of photography. You can make of it what you want. Go for it.
  11. Lex,
    Not sure how I feel about bereavement photography, but the NILMDTS site you posted intrgues the heck out of me. I browsed the site, and will go back to it and browse some more. I don't know how to build a house or start a soup kitchen, but giving of my skills to somebody in that situation seems... interesting. Thank you.
  12. Thank you Lex,
    I think neither,I am doing the right thing in taking these photos quaint as it may seem. I have been charging a standard fee and I guess,I was just thinking out loud--putting this subject out there in terms of should I be charging the flat rate that I am and will this be a service that I can monopolize in the future--not as a sideline but as a full blown service to provide. Sure,I agree with you that this could be a difficult thing to do in the U.S. and there might not be a viable market for it but,I want to make it one--I would like to break the constraints and taboo and bring this kind of photography back to life--no pun intended--I don't want to donate my time I want to get paid for a service well done. If my thread seems confusing it is because for a moment there I was confused as to how to continue with the kind of service--thank you for your input I appreciate it and know how I will proceed.
    Thank you Michael for your answer and I will consider just that. Howard I think that a person not related to the deceased is the proper person to take the photos and is it wrong to profit from that? I get hired by these people--offer a service and they pay me,it's not as if they didn't have a choice and I take excellent photos--people die all the time and other people don't profit from it? What about that guy John Edwards? How many of you think he can really talk to the dead? At least I offer something tangible in return for my money.
    Rob I agree--but those who do pay me and those who don't--don't require my services. Thanks Jim. I have to say Rich--that I do charge a good grip--as I do excellent work and no I don't feel bad about it because I am not forcing anyone to buy my services. Overall I guess that my way of thinking of the dead does differ from alot of other people's--while it is something tragic having a loved one die--I think it is more tragic not to honor this person in death as in life--and some people you might all agree aren't appreciated until they have departed this world.
    Thanks for all your answers and no my feelings aren't hurt and I don't think that anyone was being mean or rude..I put out a thread and I appreciate everyone who answered it--even the people whom I didn't agree with...I do tend to put out the same threads in different forums but that's only because I am looking for more than one opinion at different levels of the photography spectrum--I will watch that in the future and please try not to get annoyed if I do that--for those of you whom might have become irked--I try and ask the same question in different ways and cast my thread line far and wide. I am thinking about changing my company logo from a casket to a vulture--that might look good on a card. Thanks to all,hope to write again soon.
  13. Since my self proclaimed humor often pushes the macabre I once thought of telling acquaintances that I was a funeral photographer. No hyperbole too great for a laugh. I concluded after some thought that it was crude and tasteless even by my standards. "Bereavement photographer" sounds a lot better but still has an aura about it that I don't feel comfortable about. I guess I have problems with death as a Kodak moment. I don't photograph my mother any more as she is in her high nineties and age has not been kind to her. (or any of us for that matter) I think I would be upset if someone other than the FBI were to take pics at a loved one's funeral. I don't see the problem as one of morality. Marta, perhaps you should ask yourself why this is not a competitive branch of pro photography.
  14. I once stumbled into a Funeral directors meeting/conference in the early 1970's. At a bar they where using fresh US 100 dollar bills to light cigars; thus I must conclude there is a decent amount of markup on their services and caskets. This was in an era when a gallon of gas was 25 to 30 cents. The whole industry seems abit sleezy to me; often taking advantage of folks.
  15. Is being a Bereavement Photographer good business or would you say I am taking advantage of the grieving family?​
    As long as you are up front about your fees, I don't see an issue. If the family feels that it is a valuable service, they won't have a problem paying you. If the family sees you as an opportunist, they probably won't contact you in the first place.
    I personally would feel weird about hiring a photographer for a funeral. However, I would never begrudge someone for offering a service, it is my choice whether or not I want to hire them.
    Good luck with your business.

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