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Archive for June, 2013

Interview with Sonja Y. Foster – Owner, Foster Farewell Photography, LLC

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on June 12, 2013

Today we welcome Sonja Foster, Owner, Foster Farewell Photography, LLC.  Sonja’s interview explores her passion for photography and how her photography can assist families through the healing processes after a loved one has passed away.  Sonja brings her caring spirit along with her years of photography to each special event she photographs. 

Our Interview with Sonja Foster, Owner, Foster Farewell Photography, LLC…

1.  What inspired you to focus your photography on funerals, home goings, and memorial services?

My inspiration to focus my photography on funerals, home goings, memorial services, etc., came from noticing that when someoneFosterNewLogo dies, folks will drop everything, change their plans, and travel across the country to attend their funeral. So, you have your grandparents, long-lost cousin, former classmate, roommate, neighbor or colleague at a funeral. However, no one is making photographs? Yes, it’s a sad occasion. However, we can’t assume that we will see our friends and family members again. So, we should be making photographs.

2.   Can pictures be taken at a funeral? Are there any restrictions (religious or from the funeral home)?

Yes, pictures can be taken a funeral. It’s no different than a wedding or any other event. However, I don’t use flash photography. Also, so that everyone will be on the same page, I ask the client to discuss it with the church officers, funeral home staff and their family beforehand. So, they will expect me.  

3.   What types of services have you photographed? 

A) Funeral – I photographed my first funeral three years ago. It was a friend’s nephew. This young man was 18 years old and died unexpectedly. The funeral was conducted in the funeral home chapel. The cremation immediately followed. I photographed both. It was very sad. The family really appreciated the photographs. This experience was confirmation to me that this type of photography is needed and welcomed.

B) Home going – I photographed the home going service of a gentleman who had been ill for some time. He was cremated. Guests were invited to meet at The Sunset Room by Wolfgang Puck at the National Harbor. The event was catered and they hired a jazz band. The family stressed to the guests that it was a celebration. Family and friends shared stories and sang songs. It was elegant and very upbeat.  

C) Celebration of Life – I photographed a dear friend’s celebration of life service. He was 78 years old and had retired after 52 years at Huntington Ingalls Industries. He touched the lives of so many. The celebration of life was at the church. We gathered briefly at the graveside. Afterwards, we gathered at a hotel for the repast. A slideshow with photographs of him down through years was shown and one-by-one guests shared their memories.  

Although they have different titles, all center on the end of a life. However, the families wanted to have more than memories; something tangible. They chose to have photographs to revisit over and over again.

3a. Did the clients ask you to take any specific types of pictures?

At the home going I was asked to photograph everything – the flowers, room decorations and set-up, and everyone who spoke during the program. I also had a backdrop and lights in the lobby for those who wanted photographs made as they departed.

4.   Some guests at the funeral may be uncomfortable being photographed at such a painful time in their life. How do you capture the memories of the event and yet remain respectful of the deep emotions that the family and friends are experiencing?

I am respectful by being as inconspicuous as possible. I do not use flash photography and I limit my movement. Also, I’m not focusing on faces so much during the funeral. I shoot wide photographs of the church and the guests.

5.   How does funeral photography help with the healing process?

The day of the funeral can be overwhelming, a blur. Being able to revisit the service via photographs and remember who attended the service to pay their respects and show their support can provide comfort to the family. Photographs are tangible. We can look at photographs alone or with friends and family. Photographs can spark a discussion. They invite us to talk about how we feel. We don’t have to leave our emotions balled up inside.

6.   A funeral is a deeply personal event, what expertise can you bring to this very delicate occasion?

I agree. A funeral is a deeply personal event. My expertise stems from the more than six years I typed obituaries for The Virginian-Pilot. Experiences such as comforting a daughter wiping away tears as she writes her mother’s obituary changed me. It made me more compassionate and more tuned-in to what death is and how we react differently to death. I’m there to make the photograph, however, I know, instinctively, when to click the shutter and when not to.

Moreover, I took photographs of my mother when she lived with me in an in-home hospice. So, I know what it is to watch someone die. I took pictures of her during the entire process and after she passed away. I look at those pictures around her birth- and death dates and sometimes, around holidays. I’m so glad I made the photographs.

How to Contact Foster Farewell Photography, LLC:

Sonja Y. Foster
Foster Farewell Photography LLC


Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FosterFarewellPhotography

Twitter – https://twitter.com/farewell_photo

Linkedin – www.linkedin.com/in/sonjafoster

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