What would you wear to the funeral of a dearly beloved? It's a morbid but eventually necessary thought, planning the clothes you'd don on the day someone you love passes away. The taboo query is the subject of photographer James Day's series, "Funeral Guests," a portrait project that captures the despondent ensembles individuals would choose in their moment of mourning.
The series was inspired, oddly enough, by Day's fascination with older gentlemen's beards. "They always seem to convey a real sense of wisdom and experience," Day wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "I wanted to create a series of images incorporating these but to have little twist, so I came up with the idea of them as funeral guests."
From there, the series took on a heavier tone, moving from bizarre beard obsessions to intensely personal sentiments associated with death and sorrow.
"I thought it would be really interesting to ask [men] to come dressed as if they were going to a funeral," Day explained. "I think that by using their own wardrobe, in which they felt comfortable, I was able to really capture each man's personality. When I was posing them I asked them to really think about how they might be feeling if they were actually saying goodbye to a very close friend that day, as I really wanted to try and capture not only some of the melancholic, but also the fond memories that funerals evoke."
The results of Day's doleful experiment are surprisingly touching, as each bearded male volunteer managed to express a unique feeling in each of the four subtly different portraits. With their carefully chosen hairdos, well-kept suits and slightly unconventional accessories, the snapshots capture both the intentional glamor and soulful reverence that funerals can require.