Finding Life in Historic Cemeteries

Though Halloween has passed, this post has a lingering sense of Halloween due to its theme — historic cemeteries. I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a while now, and it’s been sitting in my drafts awaiting to be posted on Halloween. But, after much thought, I figured November would be the better month for this post, as the photos also include snow and themes of Christmas. So I am officially publishing this post now, in that in-between season of Halloween and Christmas.

I’ve always been fascinated by historic cemeteries. To me, they were never unsettling or scary, but instead peaceful and full of history. These final resting places are full of the stories of many, and for me, that immediately removes all of the dreariness from them. When I was a senior in college, I was able to further explore this interest in cemeteries when I took a Digital Photography class. For my final project, I chose to photograph several historic cemeteries in my hometown dating as far back as the 1700s. Over the course of this project, which took place in December just after a snowfall, my theme morphed into more than just cataloging different cemeteries — it evolved into the theme of Life.

Now, I know that many people may not equate cemeteries with life — graves from the 1700s and 1800s are not usually the first things to come to mind when one thinks of the word “life.” But while exploring these cemeteries, these final resting places, and in the dead of winter, I found that they felt surprisingly alive. There were footprints in the snow from people and animals, wreaths and flowers left at the graves of Revolutionary and Civil War veterans, and a few plants growing despite the cold snow. These things made the cemeteries feel peaceful and beautiful rather than lonely; even centuries after people have died, they are not forgotten. The fact that these cemeteries still have visitors to this day — human and animal — not only makes these cemeteries more cheerful, but also reveals a beautiful side of humanity and life itself.

Though it’s been a few years since I took these photos, I’ve always thought of continuing the series, taking photos in different cemeteries or during different seasons. This photography project was one of my favorite things I’ve done in college, and I also enjoy sharing this body of work; I even presented some of the photos at an Art Show at the 2018 Regional Honors Conference in Providence, RI. Since this project is one of my favorites, I thought I would share it with all of you.

Below is a selection of my favorite photos from Life.

This article originally appeared on the Wix site.

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