Photography and Death: A Major Taboo Explored

Dive into the intriguing world of photography's exploration of death and crime scenes, from Victorian post-mortem photography to modern-day coverage with documentary photography. Discover what drives this morbid curiosity and where the line between respectful documentation and exploitation lies.

As technology and social media shape our consumption of visual media, it becomes increasingly important to critically examine the impact of our fascination with death in photography. By acknowledging both the potential for exploitation and the capacity for respectful representation, we can engage with these images more thoughtfully, honoring the subjects and their stories while also confronting our own mortality with reverence and empathy.

This insightful discussion between photographer Tatiana Hopper and Sadie Kay questions where we draw the line, and offers a unique perspective on the intersection of photography and mortality. Weegee, a press photographer notorious for his unapologetic pursuit of sensational images, offers a glimpse into the darker side of photography. Unlike traditional artists, Weegee saw an opportunity to profit from capturing gritty scenes, often arriving before law enforcement to snap photos for profit. However, not all photographers approach death with such mercenary motives. Explore the contemplative perspectives of Walter Schels and Sally Mann, who seek to depict mortality with dignity and introspection.

Kim Simpson's picture

Kim Simpson is a photographer based in the West of Scotland. Her photographic practice is an exploration of the human experience, with a particular emphasis on themes of identity and belonging.

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When I was in the AF, a photo request came down from the base hospital for a photographer to do some images in the operating room. I gladly took the job and did several more after that. All the other photographers could not understand how I could do that. That job turned into a several-week assignment to show what the hospital does and became a major photo display for the base hospital entrance
Another instance was a request to photograph a funeral for a family. It was hard to keep a low profile but the family will always treasure that day with my images.

That sounds like very meaningful work. I have taken photographs at a funeral too. I have an article written but its very personal and I just havent hit publish as yet.