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  1. #11
    Stephen Frizza's Avatar
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    the organization was thinking of for the photography of mothers with their dead children here in australia is http://www.heartfelt.org.au/Resource...r_DL.FINAL.pdf

    or http://www.mamamia.com.au/parenting/...-on-heartfelt/ which shows some examples of their work
    "Its my profession to hijack time" ~ Stephen Frizza.

  2. #12

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    I have no objection to post-mortem photography but no personal interest in it either. Having been with several relatives at the moment of their death... it is nothing I chose to either immortalize or remember. The lasting memories of the final illness (or whatever the circumstances may have been) are difficult enough to live with. I do insist on being present for the final closing and sealing of the casket but that is a memory for the heart not for film. Other family members insist on taking a final picture and that's OK if that is the memory they want or need. I prefer doing my "final portrait" prior to hospice and death. Some family members see that for what it really is and are uncomfortable; others seem to feel it preserves their dignity but letting them look as good as possible. I must admit that the "restorative arts" of the funeral industry are quite admirable, but I prefer a slightly more natural look.

  3. #13

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    Death portraits used to be perfectly normal, on film and in paint and in the form of death masks. I've been reading _Kodak And The Lens Of Nostalgia_, which is basically a history of early Kodak advertising, and there's an interesting sideline on the clash between the tradition of the death portrait and the idealized photographic view of life that Kodak's ads promulgated. If not for the "Kodak Moment" concept, we might still be taking them routinely.

    I think children's deaths are a special case, since the nature of the parents' loss is *so* different from other circumstances. It seems like a lot of people find the portraits help them to cope with their grief constructively, and it would be uniquely insensitive for people to tell them not to do that because it's too morbid.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  4. #14
    Fixcinater's Avatar
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    I photographed my grandmother a while before she passed, I was OK with that and now am glad I took those images at the time I did rather than before her health declined.

    I once photographed the funeral/church service of a photographer acquaintance's grandfather (upon my acquaintance's request) with the purpose of sharing the images with the rest of his platoon from service years that were not financially or physically able to travel. I was less OK with that (even though no open casket images), but was told many times how it was good for the other veterans to be able to "attend" and thus considered the slight discomfort I felt quite worth it.

    I would not be OK with taking post-mortem images nor have any desire for them, although I do admit my feelings may change if it were someone close to me. I can't anticipate my reaction. No judgement passed on those who would be interested, however.

  5. #15
    MDR
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    In the 19th century and early 20th century photographs of the dead were common and most were carte de visites sized so that the relatives could take the photographs with them or send them to friends and relatives. I believe the most important aspect was to have ones loved ones close by even though they passed away.and that those photographs were very comforting for the surviving family members. Wife, Husband, Mother, etc... the difference to today is that the dead were posed as if they were alive. Didn't some famous French philosopher, probably Roland Barthes, say that all photographs basically depicted death.

  6. #16

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    Not a deathbed photo, but in a recent move/cleaning out stuff my wife came across an envelope with some odd-size negatives in it. She asked me to print them for her to see what they were. They turned out to be a bunch of photos taken of her uncle on a leave that he had after boot camp and before being shipped out to the phillipines in 1940. One of the photos had him posing in front of a brand new 1940 Chevy sedan. He died in the Bataan Death March, so these photos were the last things that the family had left of him. I wonder how many of the digital images taken of soldiers before they went off to afghanistan, and then forgotten for 50 years will be recovered and printed in 2060.

  7. #17
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    Here in the U.S. there is an organization that provides remembrance photos for parents who have lost babies.

    http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org

    So, at least in this niche area, the tradition survives.

    When we lost my father to cancer, we decided to not take pictures near the end. We wanted to remember him as he was in better times. Though, had they been the only images of him at all, I would be glad to have had them.

  8. #18
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    When I was a child, my paternal Great Grandmother had photos of relatives in caskets hanging in a spare bedroom. She was from Italy, and we understood it to be an old tradition.

    When my Father and maternal Grandmother died about a year and a half ago, I was tempted to take pictures of them at the wakes, but decided I have recent photos of them alive to remember them by.
    Truzi

  9. #19

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    I wouldn't criticise anything which gives comfort to someone in a sad or difficult time, though I always prefer to remember loved ones as they were when they were alive and enjoying life. Photos are, of course, one of the best way of preserving such memories.

  10. #20

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    I don't mean to offend anyone here with this analogy but I kind of view this as people who go to a concert to watch it through their phones. Sometimes it's best to put the camera away and feed the heart with memories instead of the eyes.

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