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The Proper Etiquette for Photographs at Funerals

Since everyone has a smartphone with a built-in camera, it's possible to photograph any event or person at any time. While this can make for some great family memories, it's important to have some discretion when it comes to what you're photographing. When attending a funeral or a memorial service, you may have friends and family members in the same room who haven't seen each other for many years. However, it is important to remember the reason you are gathered and to show tact when it comes to taking pictures.

In general, it is wise to avoid taking pictures at a funeral or a memorial service unless you have been specifically asked to do so by the deceased's family. Deciding to snap a few candids of the cousins gathered together can create tension and ruin the mood at the service. If you truly must get a picture of relatives at the service, do so outside of the building either before or after.

Should the family of the person who has passed ask you to take some pictures, be sensitive as you do so. This means photographing people in natural light instead of using a flash when possible. Your ultimate goal is to take the necessary pictures without disrupting those who are mourning at the service. You should also avoid making loud announcements about needing to photograph people. Instead, quietly circulate throughout the room and take your shots. Do not disrupt the experience so you can grab a picture.

Also bear in mind that many people will be crying and distressed at the funeral. Respect the difficulty of the situation and give these people privacy. There is no need to snap a shot of someone who is clearly in mourning. Those in attendance should be allowed to have their private moments.

In almost all instances, photographing the person who has passed is considered to be in extremely poor taste. Only do so if the family specifically asks you. If you are asked to take a picture of the person who has died, do so discreetly and without using the flash.

If you are in attendance at a funeral or a memorial service and are tempted to use your cell phone camera, think twice before you do so. Snapping cell phone shots may be seen as an extreme invasion of privacy. If you think that you have a valid reason for needing to photograph the event, you should still check with the family of the deceased, the funeral director, or a member of the clergy prior to beginning to take pictures. They can provide guidance about what they feel is and is not appropriate at that time.