Do Funeral Homes Usually Take Pictures of the Deceased?


Planning and attending a funeral is challenging for the family and close friends of the deceased. While a funeral director can help with all your funeral questions, you may still have more that you didn’t think to ask. So, let’s answer some of those questions now. 

Funeral homes do not typically take pictures of the deceased before or after the embalming. If you would like to take pictures of your loved one after the embalming, you can schedule a private time to do that or do it before the funeral service. 

Let’s talk more about taking pictures of the deceased and why it is no longer common. 

Why Don’t Funeral Homes Take Pictures of the Deceased?

Funeral homes don’t take photos of the deceased because it is unnecessary. In the 1800s, it was common to take pictures of the deceased because photos were rare back then. Now, pictures are more common, making post-mortem photos unnecessary. 

In 1826, a man named Joseph Nicephore Niepce invented the first photograph. From this point forward, the invention spread wildly. It made its way into the US in late 1839, becoming a popular and expensive way to memorialize family members forever. During this time, it was still rare to have a photograph due to the high price.

Since families did not often have the opportunity to take pictures of their family members, it was common and considered respectful to take pictures of the deceased. During the 1800s, families would not bother to apply makeup to the deceased. Instead, they would simply take a picture of them in their current state as a keepsake to honor their memory.

This is a direct contrast to current times. Pictures are now common and easy to take. Now more than in the 1800s, we are able to capture precious moments with our loved ones, leaving no need for pictures after they pass away. So, it is quite uncommon for funeral homes and loved ones to take pictures of the deceased since there are plenty of other photos. 

What Is Proper Etiquette for Taking Photos at a Funeral?

If you want to take photos at a funeral, make sure you get permission from the family first. After that, it is important to be respectful and discreet when taking funeral photos. Also, consider a photographer if you want professional photos taken.

Ask the Family First

Unless you are in the deceased’s immediate family, it is not your decision to take pictures at the funeral. If you want to take them, you should get permission from the family first. This will ensure that you take photos with the utmost respect in mind and honor the deceased. 

If you are not an immediate family member and didn’t plan the service, always follow the family’s wishes. The safest way to take a photo during a funeral service is to step outside of the funeral home or wait until it is over to take any pictures. Remember, the family’s needs come first on the day of the funeral service. 

Consider a Photographer

If you want to capture pictures of the funeral service, you should consider hiring a professional photographer. A funeral is a day of great grief. So, it may not be possible to remember to take pictures during the service. If you’re worried about this, consider hiring someone to take care of it for you.

While it may seem strange to some, some professional photographers specialize in capturing a funeral service. This is especially common for families that do not live close to each other. Unfortunately, funerals can be one of the few times an entire family can get together. So, you may want to take pictures despite the sad aura of the funeral service.

Outside view of funeral home with stone entry

Be Respectful and Discreet

Even if you have permission from the family or are in the deceased’s immediate family, it is important to be respectful and discreet when taking a photo at a funeral. If you see someone you want to take a photo of or with, it is best to step outside of the building to do it or wait until the service is over.

It is rarely acceptable to take pictures of the deceased or their casket. Families are encouraged to take any photos they want before the service begins. In fact, you can schedule a time to come into the funeral home for a private session to take pictures with the deceased. This will ensure there are no interruptions during the service. 

Why Don’t Families Want Photos of the Deceased?

Families tend not to want photos of the deceased because they don’t want to remember them that way, and they have plenty of photos while they were alive. It is important to respect this when attending a funeral. 

If you have ever been to a funeral and seen the deceased, you know they look great. Morticians and funeral directors work hard to ensure that the deceased looks as good as possible. However, this doesn’t mean they look exactly as they did when they were alive. In fact, most people agree that while they look well put together, they don’t look the same.

Seeing the body at a funeral has many benefits when it comes to acceptance and grief. This study, among others, shows that seeing the body at a funeral can help provide acceptance. However, seeing the deceased and taking pictures are very different things. While some may choose to view the body as a goodbye, most would rather not memorialize it with a picture. 

Another reason that families may not want a picture of their deceased loved ones is children. While the deceased may be difficult to look at for adults, it can be even more devastating or confusing for children to see. So, parents may avoid pictures of their loved one’s dead body to prevent their children from seeing them. If you need some advice on talking to your child about losing a loved one, we’ve got you covered here

Final Thoughts

Funerals do not typically take pictures of the deceased, but you are welcome to take photos of your loved one if you choose to. While the practice was popular before photos became more widespread, it is no longer common. 

People have plenty of pictures to look back on fondly in modern days. So, there is little need to take a photo of the deceased. Instead, remember the deceased as they were before they passed.

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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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