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. While some people may find cemeteries to be eerie or inauspicious, I personally find them tranquil and picturesque. In fact, I enjoy running through them during the day and walking through them with a friend to read the epitaphs.

  2. I *love* cemeteries – have you ever photographed Pere St Lachaise, in Paris? The most amazing cemetery I’ve ever seen. I don’t care if it’s a bit weird or spooky – I love it!

  3. I worked for a monument company in St. Louis for a number of years, and I love cemeteries. I am also a pastor, and I love studying in cemeteries… you perspective. Thanks!

  4. I photograph cemeteries, too – I like the weathered stone and the symbols people choose for the gravesites. Heading to Havana over Christmas; hope to see the Christopher Columbus Cemetery there.

  5. Seth,
    Beautiful photos!

    I think the care and attention to cemeteries by their keepers and families of patrons make them sacred places. But it’s difficult to bring out that feeling unless it’s photo-journalistically pursued. Without that slant the viewer is left to impose their own feelings upon the pictures.
    You have a great blog! I just signed up.

  6. I would vote for “cool” – and sometimes creepy at the same time! There’s so much about cemeteries that is worth capturing – loss, history, nature, emotion.

  7. These are gorgeous! I’m not sure why people have such problems with anything related to death….

    I hope you don’t find me too forward in suggesting you change your tagline. You most definitely are photographing your world, and doing a beautiful job of it. As Yoda says, “You either do or do not. There is no try.”

  8. It’s a funny thing, I come from a culture that says ‘graveyards are creepy’, and I now live in a culture where they are considered beautiful. Many people frequent them and keep the graves looking pretty with flowers or candles depending on the time of year. I’m still not sure where I stand.

  9. You would like Père Lachaise, the largest and probably most famous cemetery in the city of Paris. Buried here are Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Chopin among many other famous people. It is a fascinating place to visit.

    In Venice the island of San Michele is where they bury the dead, beautifully tended it is a garden of remembrance in the best sense of the word.

  10. I vote for creepy and cool 🙂
    As a young girl I would follow my cool artist aunt around. She was not a grave robber but a “grave rubber” She would take colored charcoals and beautiful papers and make rubbings from some of the art work on the tombstones.
    Also I grew up on a 35 acre apple orchard in Canaan, N.H. The house was re-built in 1889 and sat on a hill overlooking a graveyard. As a teenager I would meander through the headstones looking for the oldest date I could find. I think it was 1719. Occasionally I would sit and write poetry about the lives I imagined these resting souls had enjoyed. Now I am working on a YA novel that will be published Easter inspired from my childhood discoveries.
    Let your art flow out of what inspires you. . .lovely work by the way.

  11. Not creepy at all. No one would want to think that a loved one has been left in a creepy place. Cemeteries are beautiful places in our communities. We should visit more, not just in times of sadness.

  12. I’ve spent a lot of time in cemeteries and what impresses me most is that a given cemetery can be at once beautiful and terrifying. And the difference is not just night or day. Nor is it a matter of who you brought with you and how much beer you brought along. Capturing that essential quality, the duality of a cemetery’s nature, is a very challenging writing task. Great pics!

  13. I think that cemeteries make gorgeous subjects of photography, as evidenced by your photos here. (It looks like anything on the receiving end of your camera lens would be gorgeous, though.) Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking “Pirates vs Vikings.” =)

    • You are welcome. And thanks for the return visit. I agree that they make gorgeous subjects. I think from the response of this article most would agree. 🙂

  14. This photographer and cyclist ::loves:: cemeteries. I’m with Morrissey: “Another sunny day / so I’ll meet you at the cemetery gates.” I used to live across the street from an absolutely ::ancient:: cemetery in New Jersey, and I always found myself walking over to this one grave from the mid-1800’s. “Sacred to the heart of Lucretia VanZandt.” (Cue the Sisters of Mercy, of course.) I can’t help but feel connected to the thread of humanity in an area when I’m in such a place. You’re a fellow Ohioan, you must’ve snapped in Spring Grove?

    • Actually, I’ve been there but I’ve never taken pictures. I’ll have to get down there again soon. I only live about 30 mins from Cincinnati. 🙂 Beautiful cemetery though. Nice for a picnic when the weather is good.

  15. I always like the peaceful atmosphere in a cemetery. Grew up next to one, and always felt at ease…

  16. SS
    Cool, not creepy. Cemeteries get a bad rep as when we usually go it is for the wrong reasons. We lived in the UK for years and every little town has tons of old and cool headstones next to each little church going back centuries. Way cool to look at the headstones all worn and weathered and think about those folks 500 years ago. Cool/

  17. You know, I always thought taking pics in the cemetery was strange as well… And then my beloved baby cousin died this year and now I find myself taking pics in the area of his plot ALL the time. In fact, it feels incredibly normal now. So it really is the perspective because I’d always thought cemeteries were creepy & now I can’t visit it enough because he’s out there…

    But just on a photography level, that third pic is simply gorgeous…

    Happy shooting 🙂

  18. Very cool! There is nothing quite like a cemetery with character and life of its own considering its purpose…..Thank you for sharing your passion!

  19. I love visiting (and photographing) cemeteries. I always feel so connected to human history when wandering through one. And I love the way the light interacts with the stone (and often greenery).

  20. I have old parents. I don´t like the death. UI hate cemeteries. Don´t want my pare of those

  21. I LOVE walking around cemeteries. I don’t find it morbid, just silently peaceful. It’s easy to zone out and relax, thinking about nothing at all…

  22. Just seeing your photos of cemeteries now. It reminds me of a job I had one summer when I was in college. I “inventoried” all 63 cemeteries in the county of Essex in Ontario, Canada and then I got to go and interview some of the descendants. I loved that job.

  23. I love these pictures. Cemeteries are som of the most beautiful places in the human universe. When I was younger i used to go to them when I needed a peaceful and inspirational place to write. Photographing cemeteries is definitely cool.

    Viva aventura!

  24. I love cemetery photos, and those are pretty damn good! When I was younger I used to hang out in cemeteries all the time, doing all sorts of things: grave robbing, body part swapping, organ harvesting…just kidding (like I have to add that but, hell, ya never know!). Keep up the good work!

  25. Seth, thanks for your appearances on Hooked! I’m happy to get to see your work over here. One of my favorite places in the world is a cemetery in Sitka, Alaska… Hidden in the center of town in a thicket of cedars, hemlocks, and devils club, the gravestones are mostly Russian Orthodox influenced, covered in the rainforest’s inevitable moss. The stone angels are mostly headless. Ravens croak in the towering trees. A Tlingit man has been tending it for years – forever – keeping everything tidy in a wild sort of way. I walk the cedar needled paths frequently; it’s a place of peace and beauty to me. I suspect you’d find it so, too. 🙂

  26. Cemeteries are places of intrigue and mystery. Some contain a great deal of history. I have always found them to be beautiful in their own right. They are places of peace and good places to contemplate life. The photos are simply beautiful.

  27. For me it’s a peaceful place. However, I’ve one strange feeling that the same concept can’t be applied to cemeteries in Thailand, where people have strong believe about life after death. This might be something with from which culture we are. Last but not least, you have a nice shot from the cemetery in Ohio ^^

  28. I just found your blog as I see somehow you found mine! I love your photos! Beautiful! Growing up in St. Louis and doing a lot of camping in surrounding country, I have always loved to tour cemeteries and have taken a few photos as well as many gravestone rubbings. I find it fascinating! I’m glad you found me so I could find you! ~chameleon in the spectrum

    • I need to go and spend some time in St. Louis. I have spent very little time there. I hear it’s a wonderful city. Thanks for your visit and your comment.

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