Pilgrimage, part 1

There's an argument that goes on amongst cemetery photographers, that will never be resolved: should you photograph the graves of the recently deceased? When is it too soon, when are you being too purient... or do photos, in fact, help? The Victorians took post-mortem photos, but I've seen a niece physically attack her uncle at a funeral for taking a picture of the coffin being lowered into the grave. There's no answer, not that works for everyone, not even a cultural norm in many cases. I don't want to make a definitive statement.

In the decade that I've been putting photos of cemeteries online, I've had precisely two emails from (someone who said they were) a relative, objecting to the pictures. I've had dozens, thanking me for letting people see their loved one's last resting place. I can only run this with the data I have, and think that I'm doing more than being interested in something: some of you are also interested in these places, for some very personal reasons.

But I'm bad at family myself. The only person I'll ever really love is my grandfather, who died when I was 7 (more than 30 years ago and I still cry for him every single day. Is it time I got over it? Sure. Do I want to? No way.). He's buried at the other end of the country and getting to see his grave is difficult. And so I looked for it online. Here's the photo that I found:

http://www.paulfrecker.com/collections.cfm?pagetype=library&typeID=1

That upright black slab in the middle of the photo is my grandfather's (and grandmother's) grave. The one to the right in the picture is my great-uncle, great-aunt and second cousin. And I think the arched one directly above them in the picture is my great-grandparents'.

That's not why I'm doing this; I was interested in cemeteries while Grandad was still picking me up from primary school and walking me home, through the cemetery. But that picture makes me want to go and see him. Just a note, to those of you who wonder if I should be doing this at all: yes, I think I should.

Photo by Stephen Betteridge, to whom I cannot express my gratitude enough.

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2 Responses to Pilgrimage, part 1

  1. Nick Anderson says:

    That's a nice sentiment and you are doing it for the right reasons. Cemetery photographs can be very beautiful.

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