The Dwindling Trade of Photographing the Dead in Tamil Nadu

In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, there once existed a unique occupation – photographers specialized in taking pictures of the deceased. Ravindran and Richard Kennedy, both sons of photo studio owners, have vivid memories of their unsettling experiences in capturing images of over 1,000 dead bodies. However, this tradition has faded away in recent decades due to changing beliefs and the advent of affordable cameras. This article explores the historical significance of post-mortem photography in Tamil Nadu, the emotional toll it took on the photographers, and how the decline of this profession affected their lives.