Photographing Cemeteries

Cemeteries are a kind of spiritual park. You wander the quiet grounds that are almost never crowded, and see a lot of nature that took over because man barely visits (a statement on memorials). 

My tips for photographing a cemetery are below. You don't usually think of it as a very photogenic place, but cemeteries are beautiful sites with sometimes hauntingly creepy statues and chipped ancient headstones. If you pick a cloudy day, the atmosphere is ideal to get some somber and even Halloween-vibe inspirations for a yard haunt design. I enjoy going to be with prior people who in their own ways changed the world with their butterfly effect.


Some top tips -

Go on a cloudy day or at sunset when the sun is angled enough to cast shadows. 

Remember, most cemeteries close at sunset, so keep your car in open view if a caretaker decides to close the gate. Even then, you never know. I once parked my car right beside the gate and got locked in and had to climb out.

Always be respectful. I bring a trash bag to clean up as I go. I upright vases that fell over. I stop and speak people's names who died so long ago that their name hasn't been said outloud in decades. I also bring flowers, leaving one on the grave of someone whose headstone has a vibe that they could use a little notice.

Sculpture that has lots its luster can be quite stark. Headstones with moss and lichens are your friends.

Sunset and a flash on the camera made for a spooky cat on a headstone shot. 

Setting sun makes the statues and headstones come to life.

Either turn away from setting sun to capture golden and blush tones on the headstones and statues or turn toward it and use the statue or headstone to block the bright sunlight and be backlit.

Some headstones are damaged and almost beautiful in their sad state. Others have unusual and sometimes funny things left as offerings from loved ones.

You can find unusual alignments that seem rather vast and anonymous - 

Some time in a cemetery helps get perspective on things. I look at some of the markers like the vast ones above from the itinerant workers who died during the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919 and I ponder why leave a marker when you've left your mark in the important ways?