Photographing Cemeteries: Cool or Creepy?

I recently visited a few local cemeteries to take a few shots.  I found them a bit eerie but also very intriguing and beautiful.  I’ve gotten mixed responses over the photographs.  Some folks love the shots and others are turned off by them.  I assume that could be said about most scenes.  Even your beautiful Caribbean beach will draw some criticism. (i.e. “Don’t care for the sun and shore.”) Yet, cemeteries draw the most “Eww that’s creepy”‘s. What do you think?  Beautiful or scary?

Hamilton Township Cemetery in Warren County, Ohio.

Union Cemetery in Symmes Township, Ohio

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1,388 responses to “Photographing Cemeteries: Cool or Creepy?

  1. I think cemeteries are an excellent place for photography! Especially old and overgrown ones like Highgate Cemetery in London. And Père Lachaise in Paris is a classic, of course.

  2. Way coo! I thought I was the only one who did this. I particularly like old cemeteries. Beautiful shots. I just uploaded a session I did in the Natchez, MS cemetery and will do a post soon. I love to read the epitaphs.

  3. I think they are lovely photos but I am a little biased, I’ve am involved in a project in my town which is reclaiming the history behind the gravestones for local school children. In discovering the amazing stories hidden behind the ordinary people buried there the children, and us adults too, have found out so much about our local history and the graveyard has gone from being a vandalised, forbidding space to a place they own and enjoy.

  4. Nice, Seth. I love to roam around cemeteries and just read the names and dates. Cemeteries are very peaceful places, especially the old ones.

  5. There appears to be a general Anglo-Saxon/Protestant attitude to death being inappropriate as a subject (of conversation or photographs!). I am intrigued by how other cultures embrace remembering their dead. It seems healthier somehow.

    I’m biased on the subject of photographing graves, as my dad in Ireland used to do this as a service for people in the US and elsewhere who wanted to know more about their ancestors. He took beautiful old grave photos which they treasured. Definitely cool!

  6. This may sound weird, but I grew up around the corner from a cemetery and people used it like a park. On any given spring or fall day, you’d find people walking their dogs, roding bikes, going for walks, or even feeding the ducks at the many ponds. Because of this, I’ve always loved cemeteries and painting in them. They are so peaceful and wonderful.

  7. I think cemetery photos are great – anything that has texture and good lighting – sure it’s somber and maybe a little eerie, but it’s a part of life! Love them!

  8. I photograph cemeteries occasionally myself. I think many people confuse their thoughts and biases about the location (creeped out by the mere thought of being in a cemetery) with their opinion of your photographic image.

  9. I love photographic cemeteries, I love the feel of them, they are so peaceful. I do not think it creepy or sinister at all. Cemeteries (excuse the pun) have so much life in them. Writing this comment makes me think of my favourite cemetery photo. I am going to have to put on my blog now!!

  10. Definitely not creepy, but intriguing none the less. You have given me the idea to photograph a few local cemeteries. When I asked my son if he would like to come along on the outing he said, ” Only in the daytime!” Thank you for sharing,
    JW

  11. Beautiful…. If you have the chance, visit Savannah, Georgia and the Bonaventure Cemetery. The monuments make such serene architectural statements.

  12. Cool. My grandfather was a monument dealer. I used to go to his “shop” when I was a kid and watch the stones go from marble slabs, to works of art. I have walked through cemeteries my whole life, I have never photographed them though. Beautiful photos.

  13. Photographing them is cool. What was always creepy to me was that my running group used to run through them. I always felt like the poor people visiting their loved ones must have been insulting.

  14. Lovely photos, especially the bottom one. I like photographing cemeteries-and always find it interesting how certain types of statuary appear in some cemeteries and not in others-where I grew up, there were distinct ethnic sections in some cemeteries; the Poles were in one area, the Italians in another, the Irish in another. Here is Charlotte, one of the larger cemeteries has a Greek section which is always filled with flowers of all kinds-very colorful-
    Thank you too for taking the time to visit my blog-I do appreciate it-

  15. I would say very cool, only creepy during those dark and dreary nights. I was at West Point last summer and toured their cemetery. Great architecture, interesting history. Coming face to face with a nameplate of a historical person makes you wonder what they were really all about. I also think cemeteries remind us of a history sometimes forgotten.

  16. Personally, I think cemetery photography is really intriguing. It presents an interesting play between homage to the deceased and the potential voyeurism of such images. In a sense, it walks a fine line between the two, where many such images can be absolutely beautiful and honorary, while others can be in poorer taste. From what I can tell, your photographs here are quite lovely. They call to mind the care taken to immortalize the deceased as well as the more sobering reality of the fragility of life.

    Take for instance memorial grave sites. Many of them are elegantly displayed and I would be hard pressed to say that photos of them are the least bit creepy.

    Overall, I agree with some of the other responses here, in that the creepiness of cemeteries is created by the somber fact that death is part of life. Surely, this is not an easy truth to stomach, potentially making presentations of the deceased, no matter how gracefully displayed, both intimidating and eerie. Of course, that is not to say that everyone shares this view.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

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