Why I Like Cemeteries

Salem Wisconsin

I’ve always liked cemeteries. No, not for the macabre reasons. I them for lots of reasons.

I like them because they are peaceful and scenic. If you want a place to go and be left to your thoughts, a cemetery is the place. Honestly even in a big city it’s quiet and people leave you alone. I’m not advocating being unsafe here like going to dangerous areas alone or at night in areas not well lit. But to sit quietly and think without shouts of people playing and such. A nice cemetery is the place to go.

Liberty Cemetery Salem, WI

They are great places to learn photography due to textures, colors, distances, shapes, etc. You can learn a lot about composition of shots. You can learn about depth of field and focus. You can work on macro and distance compositions. You can gain different textures to see how it effects the shots and mood of the prints. It’s where I went to learn how to use a SLR before there was any automatic settings at all – everything was manual and I used film.

Liberty Cemetery Salem, WI

Notice how the same shot changes in mood given the exposure type.

Liberty Cemetery Salem, WI

Notice how the same shot changes in mood given the exposure type.

Cemeteries are an excellent place to learn history of an area. Without a guide you can wander a cemetery looking at death dates to pick up times of hardship in a community. You can see bad winters, epidemics, and armed conflicts. You can see about when the earliest people came to the area by the dates on the oldest graves. You can know a lot about cultural influences by the monuments and methods of burial. If you know your symbols of tombs and general symbology of the predominate culture (in the old US cemeteries that’s predominately European) you can learn about the people – their hopes, dreams, fears, and loyalties.

Liberty Cemetery Salem, WI

If you are into genealogy you can learn a lot about families. Often on the tombs you’ll get marriages, children, and such. You can see how say this family merged with that one with several marriages over a century. You can also watch family names die out as a generation of only girls marry off to other names. Sometimes you can see immigration patters as places of birth or death are noted if they aren’t where the plot is located. You can find information about military service that will lead to military records and more finds.

Liberty Cemetery Salem, WI

This time of year there are many cemetery tours. Some offer tales of the spooky and some offer history, I enjoy both types. Recently Mike and I went on two of these tours that were history centered. The photos here came from those walks. I’ll be doing posts to tell what I learned on the walks but first I thought October was the perfect time share a post in the praise of cemeteries beyond a place to store the dead.

Until next time!

2 thoughts on “Why I Like Cemeteries

    • Thank you so much. I’ve always enjoyed cemeteries and get strange looks for saying so. They are places of peace, history, and memory for the living. I’ve never understood why the living avoid them. I’ve learned a lot in cemeteries.

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