Graveyard Photography

Dunk's Bay Cemetery in Tobermory, ON by Neal Auch

I recently got home from a family vacation near Tobermory, ON.  At one point during the trip I more-or-less accidentally stumbled into Dunk's Bay Cemetery, located just meters away from a surprisingly diminutive public beach.  I've wandered about my share of these sorts of small country graveyards, and they tend to all blur together after a while.  But there was something surprisingly idiosyncratic about Dunk's Bay Cemetery.  Many of the graves were adorned with lawn ornaments (like the plastic gargoyle in the first shot in the slideshow above) and garden flag stands that were hung with various trinkets and religious items (5th image in the slideshow).  Maybe these kind of grave decorations are commonplace, but this is the first time I've ever seen such a thing in a cemetery before.  Certainly the most moving grave I stumbled across belonged to a  7 year old child, and was adorned with toys and little ceramic angles.  The 3rd and 4th images in the slideshow above are detail shots from that particular grave.  I've visited a number of cemeteries in my travels, many of them far older and more picturesque than Dunk's Bay Cemetery, but most of those visits were less affecting, for whatever reason.  The place felt haunted.  Enjoy!

Minneapolis (Part 2): Fort Snelling Cemetery by Neal Auch

This series of cemetery photographs was shot in Minneapolis' Fort Snelling Cemetery on my last day in Minneapolis.  The cemetery is near the airport.  Before catching my flight home I made sure I would have enough time to pop into the graveyard and take a few pictures.  I never visited Fort Snelling back when I lived in the Twin Cities, something I now regret.  I absolutely loved the symmetry and homogeneity of the grave markers, and the abandoned feel of that place near dusk.  I got really lucky with the weather; a storm was rising as I got into the cemetery, and I had just enough time to get some nice shots before the rain got too heavy.  

The first image in this series -- showing the stormy twilight sky and uniform rows of grey grave markers broken only by a single bouquet of flowers -- was featured in the literary magazine Midwestern Gothic.  

Travel Photography: Cemeteries of New Orleans by Neal Auch

Cloth flowers on a tomb in Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans

Cloth flowers on a tomb in Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans

On a recent trip to New Orleans I was very excited to have the chance to visit a few of their famous cemeteries: St Louis #1 and Lafayette.  Both locations are beautiful, but I was reminded of how challenging it is to take a decent photograph in a cemetery.  There are a number of challenges.  First off, one can typically only visit these places at midday when the light is terrible.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky for the whole week I spent in NOLA, so the light was as harsh and unflattering as it could get.  The second problem with shooting in graveyards is that they're visually cluttered; it's very difficult to find a composition with a clear, well-isolated subject in such an environment.  To try and mitigate these difficulties I found myself mostly shooting tight detail shots on the shaded sides of tombs, either avoiding the bad light or else using a backlight to generate a little lens flare and add some colour to what is otherwise a very grey scene.  More images below, enjoy!