Friday, November 16, 2012

Scanning Old Cemeteries

I bought a flatbed scanner this past year, with the intention of scanning the thousands of cemetery negatives I shot between 1998 and 2005. I haven’t been scanning everything, but selecting specific images to print and post on Facebook and other social media.

Daughter Julie holding umbrella
Looking at a contact sheet has the ability to pull me back to the day I made the images. Digital photography does not have this effect on me. Sure, an individual digital image may conjure up the memories, but the contact sheet (shoot this) can present you with your entire body of work for the day in one glance. It’s an interesting feeling.

 Julie enjoying a sno-cone
One of the sheets I was scanning the other day had my daughter Julie in some of the frames. She was about eighteen at the time (2000) – she’ll be thirty this December! Julie would visit cemeteries with me once in a while, often assisting me with my gear, but also making photographs herself. The images you see here were from a particularly snowy day at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania (just outside Philadelphia, on the southwest side). Holy Cross was a few miles from the house in which we used to live, and was my destination of choice during inclement weather.

Why inclement weather? Living near a cemetery was great – if it rained or snew, I’d be right there. Cemetery statues just look very interesting and different when they’re under the duress of storm clouds or swirling snow. From time to time, Julie would come with me to help carry my tripod and other equipment so I wouldn’t be freezing my hands (or other body parts) off. She would also hold a reflector or a rain umbrella over my head (and camera) so I could get the shot I wanted.

Photo of Scarlet by Julie Snyder (see her website)
It seems that dragging Julie around to cemeteries had a weird effect on her – she lives near a different cemetery now and walks her dog there (she is very responsible, and picks up after her dog). Not so unusual, you may be thinking; however, she plays hide-and-seek with the dog by lying down in sunken graves! She’ll be playing with the dog and when the dog looks away at a squirrel or something, Julie will dive down into one of those depressions in the ground (ground settles over time as a casket deteriorates if it’s not inside a concrete vault) and hide. The dog will whip back around looking frantically for her and so on. You would certainly guess correctly that this is my child.