In her TED talk “The Danger of a Single Story”, Chimamanda Adichie states that “Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories” and “that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding”. This statement has been my inspiration and guide for understanding people of different backgrounds, different dispositions, and different professions. So, when the prospect of this Austin based project first unfolded, I knew that I wanted to tackle something that was universal in our society to receive a negative reputation due to one-sided arguments. What I found was this: funerals, mortuaries, and burials are often considered topics to ignore due to the uncertainty, sadness, and fear that death brings; therefore, I decided to focus my documentary project on professions surrounding funeral services. The reason being is that I would like to reinforce a truth that is often ignored because of the overwhelmingly negative connotations that surround death: these businesses are places of healing, compassion, and support for grieving loved ones, and the people behind them are knowledgeable in skill and driven by a selfless will to comfort others in their time of need.
To conduct this project, I interviewed and photographed morticians from King-Tears Mortuary and Austin Natural Funerals in order to shine a light on the people who work with the families of the deceased and the deceased themselves. My purpose for this is to tell their stories and communicate how they feel. I also visited Eloise Woods Natural Burial Park to research a growing environmental option in funeral services.