View Full Version : Sad, Unusual Request, I Declined

Tim Bateson
07-29-2010, 11:36 AM
The other day I quoted a price on several dog tags with a photo. After receiving the desired photo, I turned the job down. It was a picture of a baby that had died - after death, I'm assuming theirs.
I feel for them, but just couldn't work on a photo of a dead infant.

Last year I also turned down a job from a questionable group that had wanted what looked like tasteless version of a swastika.

Any others out there have such unusual requests that you just wouldn't do?

Frank Corker
07-29-2010, 12:46 PM
Difficult for you and for the parents. Imagine if that it is the only picture that they have of the child.

Martin Boekers
07-29-2010, 1:01 PM
I worked in commercial photography for many years, I used to get requests like that
from time to time. I did make prints for them as
it seemed like it helped with their grief.

One lab I worked at contracted with local police and did evidence
photos for them, not the easiest thing to doat times but we did it.

I have turned down some work that I felt uncomfortable with for
a variety of reasons. Not too much now as it seemed more in the photo
end than engraving.

With almost everybody being digital capable and can print their own
I don't imagine as much comes through the commercial labs like
it used to.

I'm sure most of us have had work come through that they just weren't
comfortable doing. That's our right to decide what work we want to do
and work to refuse.


Mike Null
07-29-2010, 1:02 PM
I can understand your emotions but, for the moment at least, these things might give them some comfort.

As one who has experienced such a loss I can say that one never stops searching for some form of comfort.

Tim Bateson
07-29-2010, 1:02 PM
Update - The mother appealed to me & did choose another photo. With some additional editing, that I'll do, I agreed to the job.

James Terry
07-29-2010, 1:06 PM
A dead infant is no different than a dead adult in my mind. I would have thought of their desire as a form of memorial which I cant think it was anything else, but only you were there... but I probably would have taken that job.

People grieve in their own ways. My old boss had twin infants die soon after birth and all he had was one sad photo of the both of their bodies being held up together. This photo was on the front page of his web site for about two years. It was creepy but I absolutely understand the need.

I havent done much with my machine yet so the strangest thing I got is probably sugar glider nest boxes.

Larry Bratton
07-29-2010, 1:09 PM
Update - The mother appealed to me & did choose another photo. With some additional editing, that I'll do, I agreed to the job.
Good move. You should put your emotions to the side and give them what they need. I am sure they understood what they wanted when they made the request.

Scott Challoner
07-29-2010, 1:33 PM
I did a photo of a stillborn on marble once. One thing I've seen tatoo artists do is make it look like the baby is being cradled in a pair of hands. Like they are in God's hands now. Or angel wings superimposed. At the time, my editing skills weren't that good, so I just did the photo with some touchups. Like others have said, it was a bit uncomfortable, but I understood the need. The hardest thing I've done by far is a photo of my dad on his urn.

Dee Gallo
07-29-2010, 2:13 PM

I've had quite a few requests for memorial photos to be engraved on LED lights, mostly adults and a couple of children and some pets, but they were always photos taken when the person was alive. People seem to need a small shrine collection of photos and mementos they can put together and hold in their hands as comfort. I suppose the only photos your clients will ever have are what they could get, and the desire to have a more permanent keepsake is even stronger.

I don't judge, it's important to them. Probably one of the most cherished jobs you'll ever produce. There are some jobs I turn down, but this would not be one of them. I'm glad you came to an agreement with the mother.

cheers, dee

Drew Sanderson
07-29-2010, 2:50 PM
This is an organization of professional photographers who volunteer to help families.


Gary Hair
07-29-2010, 6:08 PM
Personally, I would have done it. No fault to you for not wanting to, it's a personal decision. I would have been uneasy doing it. Much easier to engrave a photo of the deceased taken before they died.


Dan Hintz
07-29-2010, 7:11 PM
Much easier to engrave a photo of the deceased taken before they died.
Now there's a trick I'd like to see you do ;)

Gary Hair
07-29-2010, 10:13 PM
Now there's a trick I'd like to see you do ;)

I guess I could have said that better... How about - engraving a photo taken while the person was living, not after they died.

Jim Beachler
07-30-2010, 3:00 PM
I actually offer a product for which I engrave photos and information of the deceased for the living. Customers have told me that they really like being able to have a small memorial in their house for someone they really miss.

I have also done this product for deceased pets as well.

I look at it as a job that makes others happy and makes me happy as I am getting paid.

Joe De Medeiros
07-30-2010, 3:25 PM
My wife and I make fused and Lampworked glass jewelery, and we get asked quite often if we can add crematory ashes to glass beads, I always decline. I don't want to touch it. I hate to turn it down since we are struggling most of the time.

Chuck Patterson
07-30-2010, 7:21 PM
I started this whole engraving business 20 years ago by engraving on headstones. So everything I did, was for the dead AND the living. So requests of all types have come my way. One thing I have learned is that everyone tries to heal in their own. If a request is strange, but yet not against the law or truly unethical I will do it. It may be strange to me, but it may not be to them. Who am I to judge. The strange request no longer becomes strange when I show the customer their end product and you can just see the world being lifted off their shoulders and smile come across their face. You can actually start to see closure starting to take place, it is amazing.

Keep in mind that memorials of a type, whether it be a photo engraved on a dog tag or glass beads with ashes, are for the living and not the dead.

Further more, when you can help someone heal through the grieving process they tell EVERYONE they know about how wonderful you are or what a wonderful job you did. They are my best word of mouth advertisers. I probably would not be here today if not for them. I would hate to think of all the possible repercussions if I said no to any of them.

My wife is also a Funeral Director so I have a direct line to the families and get quite a bit of work and odd requests and in all these years I have never turned down a project.

You should hear what kind of requests Funeral Directors get.....will save that conversation for another day.

Cindy Rhoades
07-31-2010, 4:00 PM
When I get a request like that I always accept and try to do the best job I have ever done because it is an extremely important item to the customer no matter if it was an adult, child or pet. I just remember how I felt when I lost a loved one and my perspective is put in check. I enjoy helping people and if that is what it takes to help so be it. I have contracted with a couple of the funeral homes in my area.

Bill Cunningham
07-31-2010, 10:30 PM
They only job I have ever flatly turned down was a swastika to be engraved into a earlobe plug.. (one of those things that stretch a hole in the earlobe to fit a custom wooden plug.(??? to each his own I guess).. Even though it is a ancient religious symbol, it's meaning to this obviously young person had nothing to do with any religion and everything to do with some form of shock value and ignorant rebellion.

Kathy Madan
08-02-2010, 6:26 PM
We have engraved several urns and boxes for customers and the funeral home. We even had one already filled with ashes! We now sell jewelry that you can place a small amount of ashes in. Not a huge seller, but some folks want that. That kind of stuff doesn't bother me.
The most difficult ones are the babies. We had a mom come in that had just lost her infant and was looking for a locket. She was obviously still grieving, she just sobbed, but kept apologizing. I just cried with her, gave her a hug and helped her pick out a locket.

We've turned down engraving some foul language on things, especially if it involves kids, but we will do most things. We recently had someone want us to engrave a stainless steel sex toy. We turned that one down. EWWWW

Mike Null
08-02-2010, 9:56 PM

welcome to SMC.

Terry Swift
08-03-2010, 12:53 PM
I've had a couple of requests that were questionable and they didn't materialize.

I do "memorial" plaques fairly often - like in granite - with pictures and text. All the pictures I've received are when the child / person was alive. As Dee and others have said - it provides something for them to reflect upon when looked at. Photos usually go in a drawer or album and looked at only occasionally. Plaques are usually in view all the time.

Priceless in my thoughts.