Every photojournalist has to cover funerals occasionally, but it’s always toughest when it’s a friend. Today I photographed the memorial service and burial of a friend who left this world well before his time. He left behind a beautiful, loving family, and many friends who adored him. He served in the US Air Force and the San Antonio Police Dept., and was studying for his masters in order to become a teacher, continuing the trend of protecting and helping others. I met him and his wife when I was hired to photograph their wedding, several years ago. After that, I would shoot their annual Christmas card photos. I didn’t really shoot portraits, but I always was happy to do theirs because I liked them so much. It was always nice to see them, and especially listen to his interesting stories. He was one of those people who wasn’t like anyone else, and that was obvious even if you had just met him.
Opinions about covering funerals and memorial services are many. Personally, I feel that preserving moments from these days is very important, and it should be done. There are some who feel that having a photographer running around during a memorial service is distracting, at best, and this can easily be true, depending on the photographer. There is definitely a protocol to follow. My friend’s funeral was today; here are some of the images that mean the most to me: