I finally had a chance to see tutor and without any surprises he loved the idea of crashing funerals, photographing coffins and blend in with the mourning crowd.

I started to panic and look at this seriously. I got my feedback in the next couple of weeks and there was a few serious suggestions:

  • Difficult project – sensitive handling
  • Initial stage – contact hospices
  • Urgent need to contact hospices and other relevant sources in order to understand if the project is doable.
  • The practice of photographing the dead was very common in the 19th Century.
  • Research include post-mortem photography, memorial, portraits, mourning portraits and momento mori.
  • Photograph the effort put in to dress up and prepare bodies in order to seem realistic.
  • Use your own experiences and cultural differences.
  • Opinions, interviews, artist interviews and emails.
  • People to look at – Bill Viola, Walter Schels, Colin Gray, Sally Man, Joel Peter Witkin, Beate Lakotta and others.
  • Write a project proposal
  • Consider photographing terminally ill people.

I knew that the first step is to make a list of hospices, charities and organisations that deal with terminally ill, give support to the family of these people and basically is the main focus point to reach target – photograph funerals and pre-dying photographs.




In the Creative Future lecture we talked about ways of photographing wedding, engagement shoots, numerous practitioners and styles.

And out of nowhere – what about the same concept, but for funeral photography???? I bursted out in laughs, shared my crazy thoughts about the idea and described the imagery of Latvian funeral, my grandmas funeral from 1994 and the image I have in my head.

1994, Latvia, Vitolini, My Grandmother

It seemed funny at the time, really funny, because the idea of crashing funerals, have pre-dying photo-shoots and record funerals in the same style as wedding just was so wrong and bizarre, that the outcome could be unpredictable. And it would be awesome to have big prints exhibited in the main hall of HSAD with dying people and coffins….

And everyone said that our tutor Andy would love the idea.

At that stage this was only meant to be a piss-take, joke and I decided to write a “fake” Final Major Project proposal to trick my tutor.

I had a feeling that he might like it and I might end up working on this for real. And that, after the laugh-out-loud moment about death and funeral seemed really scary.

Before writing proposal, I had to do some research and it SHOCKED ME that there are actually funeral photography or “farewell” photography and people make living out of it.

In the proposal I included some ideas, personal views and research.

FMP Funeral

I had a lot of time to soak up the idea, because my tutor was unavailable for few weeks and as the weeks went one it seemed less funny with every day.

Also a fellow blogger I found has an interesting point about funeral photography.