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

To see more of my photos, please visit my gallery.

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

  1. I photograph old cemeteries too, from Argentina to Morocco, and one day I’ll do something with them. I think cemeteries make a great photographic subject. Keep it up.

  2. They are cool! I took a few shots of cemeteries too. It is beautiful to see how different cultures choose to remember and bury their loved ones.Keep up the good work!

  3. Not at all creepy – really interesting account of humanity’s response to loss of loved ones. Some headstones are so ostentatious and others so humble.

  4. I can understand why people would find a cemetery creepy, but personally I think they’re good places to get some great photos. Some are really lovely, peaceful places … and some ARE creepy, but that’s great to photograph also. ; )

  5. Cemetaries are full of different styles of art that owes very much to whichever period it originates from. I’m not a big cemetery/graveyard guy, I’m more the give-your-body-to-science-and-cremate-what’s left, have-a-memorial-service type, so I guess that’s why the idea doesn’t creep me out as much as it might others.

    Some of these images are just awesome, you’ve done a great job with the exposure and color.

    While looking at these photos and also the Ault Park ones, I became curious: I’m a former photographer myself who developed other interests and got away from it. I was always trying to capture what I saw in my mind’s eye on film, and was rarely successful. I had learned how to manipulate exposure in the darkroom with black-and-white film photography, but I preferred trying to get it right the first time when I clicked the shutter.

    Now with digital photography, manipulating both exposure but also color, sharpness, etc. is extremely easy with special software. I’ve found a new freedom to be able to get what I see in my head in the final version, although this runs against my traditional belief that a photograph should have no such excess manipulation. Still, the results are often much better and more striking.

    You could even argue that the ability to effectively manipulate these digital editing features is an art form and a talent–like using good composition–in itself.

    I’m curious what your thoughts are on this.

    • Thanks for your comments. I think there is an art to using programs such as Photoshop. You can create some interesting photos. I don’t use Photoshop, one because I’ve never trained on it and two because it’s very expensive. I’ve played around with the program on the free trial. I generally just do light enhancement. (Brightness and a bit of color).
      I do think that it’s acceptable to use those type programs to create art with your pictures. One still needs to have the “eye” to get the shot needed. Thanks again for your comments.

      • I also don’t use Photoshop…I have a version that is way old and runs on OS 9 (the Mac’s operating system from more than 10 years ago). I use iPhoto, and on the iPhone I use Snapseed and SmugMug’s Camera Awesome to get the effects I want.

  6. Thank you for taking a look and liking my lastest post. Your cemetery shots are very nice. I have photographed in cemeteries in years past but I always had someone with me. Recently photographed tomb stones for my cousin who is working on our mutual family tree. The cemeteries (2), are stark (not pretty) and located in a blackland prairie region of central Texas. The sites that you posted are very pretty.

  7. I love the pics, especially the one from Hamilton Township. there is a sense of calmness in them.
    The first thing that came to my mind on seeing them was “I’m seeing cemetery photos of my peers, conversatin’ like they still here” from Tupac’s “If I die Tonite”

  8. Thanks for the “Like” 🙂 About shooting cemeteries i love it. They are so beautiful. Me and my Lady spent 2 hole days in Paris visiting Père Lachaise Cemetary and Montmartre Cemetery. The Cemetery in my Ladys birthtown Zemun just outside Belgrade Serbia is also a very nice place.
    Awesome photographs!

  9. I’ve been known to “haunt” a few cemeteries now and then. Actually, I could spend hours in most. The stories that could be told by those buried there…volumes. I like this post. Thanks for the like also. If you’re interested and have time, you might check out Peering through the Cemetery Gate at under This N’ That.

    • Thank you. Like your Tri-State gallery. My mom’s family is from Cherokee, AL area. (Near MS border) and also from Iuka, MS. And my dad’s family is from Burnsville, MS area. (Tishomingo Co.) So I know that area well.

  10. I love cemeteries. There are so many stories there, and your photos are great. There is something stunning about the use of colour and light in them. Thanks for liking our blog post too btw.

  11. I don’t find them creepy at all. I’ve been brought up going to visit cemeteries because I’ve had relatives die when I was very young or before I was born so it’s just a part of my life. I think that might be why I’m conditioned to them. Sometimes they also have beautiful gardens such as the one near where I live and where my relatives are buried.

    • I agree. Plus we are all going to end of there, or whatever your cultural equivalent is) one day so it’s best to get comfortable with them. 🙂

  12. Thank you for visiting my post and liking “Spllish Splash”. I’m not sure if cemetery photos are cool or creepy but they certainly are interesting. Some people put a lot of thought into how they want the dead to be laid to rest.

  13. Put me in the “cool” column. I think they are beautiful, especially the really old ones. I like to read the stones and imagine the people’s lives. I believe that somewhere they are happy someone is interested. 🙂

  14. One of my favorite shots is one I took of a tree in a cemetery. I love it. No one else does, but I find it to be just a beautiful image. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  15. Add me to the list of fellow photographers who shoot cemeteries. As long as it’s done with respect and taste, I find it beautiful! I have some local faves, but also have done a small bit of photography in New Orleans cemeteries.

  16. I also shoot alot of churches and cemetries, its a big part of our different cultures and it should be rememberd, it will be changing! If people are upset, it means that your photos are great, they breeds feelings… Heres a image from Isla Mujeres in Mexico.

    and heres another from seattle, from a war grave you can se they are both very different and still the same thing.
    people were watching at me strange, I guess it was different but nobody seemed offended. 🙂

  17. Yeah, definitely cool. I have a number of cemetery photos that I never posted, perhaps due to similar apprehensions as you’ve expressed here. I’ve always pondered the feasibility of creating a travel guide to the USA, or global, based on cemeteries, rated according to a range of criteria.

  18. I don’t think it’s creepy at all. You’re photos were tasteful. If I had a loved one pass away and wanted a beautiful photo of their final resting place I’d call you up :). Hey there’s a good idea for you. I actually was asked to photography a funeral two weeks ago. The widow loved the pictures. I didn’t take pics of the empty cemetery but now I’m think I should go back and snap a few images. I’m inspired by you…THANKS!

    • Thank you. Excellent idea but sort of depressing. I guess someone has to do it. So what did you take photos of? I bet that was a hard job.

      • It was hard. The man was a good friend of my dad who passed. He was only in his late 40’s. Heart attack. I did it as a courtesy and I will be honest I didn’t enjoy it. I had mixed feelings the whole time. I knew she wanted the pictures but I felt ashamed and rude taking photos of the family and friends who were mourning him. I tried my hardest to wait for a good shot and just snap once. I cried…and taking pictures with blurry eyes added to the challenge. 😦

  19. I think you found the creepy factor through your lens and took the shots reflecting it. They evoke good strong emotion and that’s a plus. Me, I don’t like cemeteries, ne’er have, ne’er will. Thanks for the visit.

    • Thanks for your comments. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t like to take photos in the middle of the night there. Still, some of these old gravestones are hundreds of years old. Many of those folks forgotten. It’s nice to pay a visit and remember them, even if just by name and year.

  20. Personally, I am intrigued by cemeteries. I think they are a part of our history and a place of respect. I find nothing creepy about them at all, unless they are possibly neglected. Of corse there is something sad about a cemetery for the obvious reason that we lost someone on earth and can no longer communicate in person. I am a spiritual person and find memorials very cool. The dates, history, thoughts of the soul that once lived. The headstones are also like art and sometimes the landscape or environment, weather, etc, really makes a nice picture. Great job. I love the pictures that you have posted.

  21. I am going with cool. I have seen some beautiful cemeteries but don’t think I personally want to be buried! Once when sleeping right next to a cemetery in Holland I had a very realistic dream about a strange lady. The next day I walked through the cemetery and found a lady’s headstone was right next to my window. I regret not taking a picture but at the time I just fled! Thank you for checking out my blog 🙂

  22. Love the pics. I have somewhat of a fascination for cemeteries. I prefer to see them by day, though — for the sight seeing and all. I think I’d get a little scared if I went to one at night.

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