Posts tagged: funeral photography

Country rain – from Switzerland to Nigeria.

By , December 8, 2011 12:54 am

Driving through stinging rain. Grey clouds hang like a shroud, whilst further to the south, sweeping sheets of white cover the hills and fields, causing small streams in paddocks to run, puddling at fence lines.

Today I am going to film a small country funeral for a Swiss woman, who so loved her family that she travelled each year to stay for a 3 month visit. This year she celebrated her 80th birthday, and then passed away very suddenly.

Today and forever her heart will be part Australian.

Already, I am lost. I drive swinging to the right, as I watch open mouthed as my turnoff to Toowoomba veers to the left. I’m confused by the prolific and complicated road works that jam the Ipswich highway. No matter, I have plenty of time, and I take the opportunity to drive through Ipswich and have a good look around though my sweeping windscreen wipers. I’ve heard that Ipswich has changed a lot – a dynamic mayor with his tea cup collection – and innovative city changes, but today I can’t really see anything new. It’s the same old highway, same traffic, same curious collection of white rocks stacked into a pyramid to my right hand side. Very odd. I don’t get it.

Pulling over to the side of the road, I stab at my new android phone for Google maps, and a strange woman’s voice tells me which way to drive. With my phone propped up within the dashboard, it leads me out of this town and back towards the main highway, where my little Astra competes with huge and fast-speeding semis and trucks.

Water everywhere. Thanks goodness for new tyres. Eventually the turnoff to Laidley appears, and I pull left and enjoy scenery. I always imagined living in this small town, I’m not sure why, something about it pulls me towards a slower life. Children in bright gumboots digging within a muddy garden. Cats sleeping in warm window nooks. Dark grey pigeons abridge rooftops watching the town centre. No sooner had I read all the Christian signs and anti abortion posters *country dream popped* than I am driving out of Laidley, heading towards the small crematorium and chapel.

The rain doesn’t ease, and the paddocks surrounding the gorgeous little cemetery are filling with rivers and brown streams of water, anxious to travel and flow. I hop from my car, from small island to small island of mud. My shoes are already soaked. It’s going to be a long day. A large gregarious caretaker called Barry meets me and together we chat for the next 30 minutes about this and that. He tells me of speeding through the cemetery (no clients of course) and how three special black marble headstones glow in the dark. I shiver with delight. “It’s just reflecting the building lights of course” but I won’t listen, I want to hear how they glow and my goose bumps build up and down my legs and arms.

Eventually the family arrive, huge umbrellas are shaken and stored, and raindrops are dusted off black coats. We’ve lost our Catholic priest, a new young man, fresh from Nigeria. A few phone calls later, it seems he has driven to the Plainlands cemetery instead. He’s on his way. We sit and fiddle, adjusting my video angles, rehearsing. Paula, a young blonde Funeral Arranger, tells me that in her experience, a lot of priests “give these families nothing. Nothing! No comfort, nothing.”

Grosse Gatt wir loben ditch plays. Our young priest arrives with an embarrassed face, he quickly changes into his priestly garments and the Service commences. Firstly, a long explanation and deep apology to everyone for keeping them waiting, and soon we all warm to this likeable, sensitive young man with the dark skin who travelled from Africa, performing the Committal rites to an old woman who travelled all the way from Switzerland to die. I love the journey!

He gives them comfort, and hope and faith. He gives them everything!

The widower speaks no English, and seems happy although a little dazed. It must be a shock: she went too quickly. I am there to film so he can take his wife’s memory back home, and show his neighbours that “he did the right thing.” In thirty minutes, it’s over; we exit the Chapel to Ave Marie. Outside, the hugging begins.

I film as gently as I can, without intrusion, and then head back inside to photograph the detail of the flowers. He wants everything preserved in my camera, and I oblige, clicking petals and the silver Cross and the details that catch my eye. The family are so relieved I’m there, and grateful. Umbrellas are popped open and dribs of black-dressed families huddle together, making their way to their cars. Someone takes my own umbrella, by mistake. Oh well, it can be my gift to them.

They are driving now to a local pub, where a long afternoon of schnapps and toasts will begin; and I leave them to their memories, and drive home; through the concrete canyons of Ipswich Road, past the wonky bridges and enormous overhead highway signs, winding my way through the suburbs to arrive to my own home and find a roast pork dinner – complete with homemade apple pie – all ready to be thrown into the oven. Thank you to my son and his girl, for being so thoughtful. I squeal with delight as I see my kitchen, with dishes full of salads, bowls overflowing with potatoes ready to be roasted, the seasonings, the flavours that beckon. Bottles of red wine are opened, and my husband and other son arrive for dinner.

It’s a perfect ending to a lovely day.

When tomorrow comes…

By , April 19, 2011 12:35 pm

Tomorrow I am going to help my old school friend bury her husband.

After decades of pain and depression, he finally ended it all with a brand new white rope.

She found him.

She has asked me to bring my video camera to record the Service, as she explains: “Patty, I always remember you saying, that you might not want to view the images now, or even next week, but one day you will come to a place in your life where it might be good to view the funeral, and the DVD will be there, quietly waiting for you.”

So, tomorrow, I will help my old school friend bury her husband, who loved her, but depression and constant chronic pain won out.

Rest in Peace.

~~~

Today I am going to help my old school friend bury her husband. I’ll be the oldest friendship there to support her, and although her nursing friends and old bridesmaids will be there, although her small family consisting of her only brother and his wife and kids will be there, I will be the one with the oldest memories of her; memories of a single girl, a carefree, happy redheaded blue-eyed school girl, in the school hallway bent over laughing at my jokes.

We both travelled to Cooktown together in our senior year, keeping a watchful eye on the young boys as we were plunged into a series of small train tunnels, pitch black and groping hands, to emerge in the blinking daylight, slightly dishevelled with smug teenagers sitting opposite us, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth. It was a game and we played along, much fun.

Over the years we kept in loose touch. If I was staying in the Hunter Valley helping my old wine-maker friend Jim Roberts pick his grapes, I would stay with her and her husband.

Her husband was a soft, gentle man, a large man, a lumbering giant heaving an unworkable broken body around the best he could. In those days he drove a taxi, and could get around a little bit, but the passing years were unkind to him, and gradually depression began to taint his world and the shutters closed in.
~~~
Today my husband was showering early, and I heard him yelp from where I was in the kitchen. I called out: Are you alright? Darl? Are you ok? And with his silence my footsteps quickened to reach him.
He stood there, water droplets from the shower covering the paddocks of his back and shoulders. On Sunday he had spent most of the day changing over 45 fluorescent light tubes at his work, and one of the tubes had cut his finger deeply. It was this sore finger that had banged against the towel rail, and it had silenced him with sudden pain.

I gently took the white towel and slowly, tenderly, wiped his back, his legs, his chest. “There you go, the rest is up to you” I said, and left him to finish the job.

Some days marriage is like that, you have to be there and step forward.
~~~
“When you first told me what you did, I couldn’t understand it, I thought ‘A funeral photographer? What the hell?’ but now I totally get it.” We speak softly, the phone nuzzles into my neck, and I close my eyes and imagine we are once again sitting in the spa we shared only weeks ago. “I want you to photograph him, and film the funeral, in fact I want to take the DVD over to Ireland and share it with his old friend. She can’t make it over for the funeral. I’ll take it to her.”

Already in her mind, she is moving forward, seeing a fresh day, a new start, a different tomorrow.

A fortnight ago we stayed at O’Reilly’s in the Gold Coast hinterland, the four of us women coming together in solidarity of having some time to ourselves. I spoke to her about everything but her husband. She needed the break, and I made it clear that the topic was always there if she needed to, wanted to speak about him; I was all ears and arms; to wrap around her. We watched an opera DVD, Cecilia Botoli. Eventually, she leaps to her feet, and begins to move to the music.

This is the first time I ever lined-danced to opera she says. I try to keep up with her steps, but it’s not for me, the set routine and boredom of repeating movements. I lash out and wobble my bits in joy, dancing for a moment in the rainforest. We laugh and giggle, like the old schoolgirls we still are.

Neither of us then imagined that we would be arranging his funeral. My friend is my old schoolgirl mate, childless, now widowed. She’ll rise above this, and move forward, and I’ll be there to help if I am needed.

Personal Funeral Photography

By , March 10, 2011 2:02 pm

I know most crematoriums and Chapels now offer to record your Loved One’s funeral, but do you really want a standard, genetic DVD showing either the backs of people’s heads, or just one long image staring from the front of the Chapel? I offer personal, bespoke video, capturing your special moments with sensitivity and flair. Contact me on 0417 887 316 for further details. Once taken, never forgotten.

My promise to you as a Funeral Photographer.

By , January 11, 2011 8:18 am

I promise…

I promise not to charge you for every little transition, edit, effect or pan and zoom movement when I create your funeral Tribute DVD for your Loved Ones. This is all a natural part of creating something worth watching.
I promise not to fill your screen with images of birds, sunsets, the ocean or clouds unless they are relevant to your Loved One. You are here to honour and remember them, not look at nature or butterflies.
I promise not to bombard you with trivia and details of DVD creation that you are unable to take in at this distressing time.
I promise you that if you request me to create a Tribute DVD, you can relax knowing it will be done and you will have peace of mind.
I promise you that if you request me to film at a funeral, you will know that I am quietly there archiving your life.

I promise you can rely on me.

I promise to use my years of experience to create a DVD you will watch, and love, and share.
I promise you that I will create a Funeral Memorial Book you will love, look at, and share.
I promise you that I will always be discreet, and sensitive. I too, have lost my Loved Ones.

I promise you I will respect your wishes at all times.

I promise you I will use the music you have selected where possible.
I promise you I will use the names, dates and any quotes, poetry, psalms or prayers you select within the Funeral DVD Video.
I promise you that I will always use the highest quality software and transitions to create a video worthy of your Loved One.

The future of Funerals

By , June 30, 2010 5:02 pm

Bruce Wadd is a local Brisbane Funeral Celebrant – and we met today to discuss the future of funerals and Memorial Services. 

Our business is funerals, and these days now belong to the Baby Boomers; the generation who re-invented everything;  from re-writing their wedding vows to holding Divorce Parties. 

Often families don’t wish to do the traditional Chapel or Church Service, and rightly so, each funeral should be tailored for the comfort of  Loved Ones and their grieving families.  If you don’t feel comfortable in a Chapel, or  if  Uncle Harry never went to Church, then don’t do it!  Go somewhere you all loved – a beach, a quiet park, a backyard.  Each Memorial Service can be tailor made to fit you, and your family.

Saying goodbye is never easy, so you can be assured you are in good hands with experience, knowledge, understanding and commitment with Bruce.  In fact, Brisbane has several excellent Celebrants, aren’t we so lucky?

It was great to discuss exciting changes and challenges in our chosen fields.  Love it!  Go visit Bruce’s website here and say g’day.

Bruce and Patty discuss the future of funerals

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