Funerals, Baptisms, Relatives I didn’t know, Oh My!
Today was was a day full of contradictions. It was a sad day, then ended up being a joyous day. Today was the day we buried my aunt. I attended the services, and brought along a few cameras to document the event. At first I was really nervous about documenting funerals, but the last funeral of my uncle in law made me feel at ease. I think the key is to be as unobtrusive as possible, and when people are mourning, give them space. As a journalist sort of speak, I felt like I did need to document the day, but if it meant that I make someone uncomfortable, I’d rather not take the shot and move on. So far it’s worked for me thus far throughout my photography career.
I went for a simple no mess no fuss setup. 1DIII and 1DII for focus in low light, as well as 3 primes, a 35L, 85L, and 200L. I think I did well considering I was the only person in the room shooting without obnoxious flash. Of course, this ended up screwing me in the long run. At the end they wanted a huge family photo. With no light, I had to break my #1 rule of shooting large groups. With people lined up on > 3 separate planes, shoot F5.6 or greater. It’s a must. Turns out, all I had was 1.8, and pray that it doesn’t suck. I ended up looking at the pictures after wards, and I was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t look as awful as I imagined it to be!
But what was intriguing was when I saw my aunt’s kids. Man did they all grow up. Since my dad was (and still is) anti social, we don’t get to go to many family functions, so seeing them all again for the first time in many many years, I wonder to myself why I ended up being a stranger, and maybe perhaps I should make an attempt to bind the family ties. Well, at the funeral I noticed someone that looked very familiar. She looked exactly like the controller/finance person at my company! I convinced myself “All asians look a like, it can’t possibly be her. The person that works with me is Japanese, her last name is clearly Japanese’. So as I’m taking pictures, I even try to sneak a few of this person, to try to analyze it later. I even texted my friend Danny to tell him, I think this person at work is related to me!
Sure enough, I just had to walk up and introduce myself, haha. Yup… A cousin. Such a small small world. Turns out the last name was her husbands, and she actually speaks Vietnamese!
That aside, I think the most heart wrenching part was when my uncle broke down during the portion where we threw the flowers into the grave and said our goodbyes. He said he’d meet her again, and just sobbed. Oye, that was very rough. There was a shot that I wanted to get of the flowers all in the grave, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it. It was one of those, …”may not be in good taste, especially with everyone so sad”. Yet…now I kinda regret not doing it. I told Chrissie later that I’m gonna have to die first, because if she goes then I’d be too sad. Since I claimed first dibs, I guess the spot is mine!
After the funeral, I went to lunch with my parents, and then headed off to the baptism of my friend Hung’s baby Kiera. I think the change of venue was good. Jumping from a sad occasion to a joyous one was a welcome change. So I documented that, and it went pretty smoothly. I think the only snag I ran into were a bunch of family and friends all got in front of me while taking the shot. But hah, the good thing about attending 3 funerals within the past month+ is you gain a whole lot of perspective. “No worries” is now my motto. Life is too short to get upset over trivial things. If I don’t get the shot, oh well. =)