the Kramer funeral

By strazz

March 9, 2010

Category: Daily work

3 Comments »

I have ambivalent feelings about photographing funerals.

First off, it is very difficult documenting other’s pain especially if they don’t want their pain documented.

Secondly, I feel like an ass standing outside of a church with a long lens picking off moments of grief like I am duck hunting.

However, my job is to provide the best possible image that communicates emotionally and informationally.

Sometimes, people are open with their grief and I am allowed in and encouraged to memorialize their lost one. Those are the easiest funerals to shoot.

Other funerals are very contentious and people are very vocal with words of disdain like paparazzi, vulture and other words I don’t want my children reading.

Monday’s funeral for Jeffrey. Lori and Michael Kramer was somewhere in the middle. The Kramers were murdered last week as innocent victims of a custody battle of another Kramer child.

The media, 2 still photographers and 5 tv stations, were allowed to stand at the edge of a sloping parking lot overlooking the entrance of the church.

No one said a negative word.

But on my drive home, I heard Dan Bernstein of The Score sports radio talking about my funeral photo that was on the Chicago Tribune website. Bernstein thought it was incredibly distasteful for Michael Kramer’s pallbearers to be decked out in Sox jerseys and jeans.

Apparently, the 20-year-old was a huge White Sox fan and this was his friends’ way of honoring his passion.

I didn’t have a problem with it but I might have felt differently if they were wearing Cubs’ jerseys.

©2010 Scott Strazzante/ Chicago Tribune

3 Responses to “the Kramer funeral”

  1. Scott I feel you there. I had to photograph my first funeral/memorial service down here a couple weeks back for a Marine killed while serving in Afghanistan (http://heraldtimesonline.com/gallery/n/1281). I tried to be respectful, but I still didn’t feel quite right being there photographing someone else’s pain. Definitely a tough job for any photojournalist.

  2. I too photographed my first funeral in December (also a triple homicide). I was not welcomed and to make things worse, by the end of the service, I was the only media person standing across the street from the church. Nothing makes you feel more stupid than standing there by yourself with a 400mm lens looking like an idiot. Oh, and apparently, God has a special place for me (according to one of the town’s residents who found it necessary to drive by, slam on her brakes, and yell at me out her car window). I think this is just one of those things that will never be easy and by nature, shouldn’t be easy.

  3. Never had to shoot a funeral yet and hopefully being more on the reporter/sports end of things I can put that off for a quite a while longer (if not forever). I know I’m going to be “missing the point” with this, but what’s it matter to Bernstein what this kid’s friends do to honor him? I’m glad to hear you weren’t met with hostility, especially it being a high-profile case. But I think it’s quite distasteful for the media (Bernstein) to criticize the mourners. That certainly can’t give the media a good name at funerals.

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