Death Photos

Dad on the Day of his Funeral (2017)

Smart phones seem to be changing the way we use cameras around death. This is true in so many ways, but our research has uncovered a wealth of images taken in hospitals and hospices, of the dying person, and just after death. Photos of loved ones minutes after death and before the body has been formally laid out are socially taboo, but not, perhaps, as rare as we might think. Project participants who possessed such images all had a strong relationship with photography, and had taken those photos on instinct in a final attempt to accept and comprehend the death of someone they loved. The after-life of such photos remains complex, and their circulation restricted. But as knowledge about the existence of such photos in peoples’ personal archives grows, so too will debate about their ethical status and therapeutic value.