Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Cemetery Photography of Vince Payavis

"I take photos, it's what I love to do. I will photograph anything, but cemeteries are one of my favorites. It's like having a beautiful art museum all to myself. It may be cliche' to say it, but I love the serenity. I feel I'm passing on unseen and unknown art to anyone who cares enough about these photos to take a look." - Vince Payavis

Vince Payavis has quite the photo album on Flicker – his photographs of people, vehicles, landscapes, and abandoned sites are all very interesting. Crisp quality, wonderful composition. He does, in addition, have an album of cemetery photography. I thought you might be interested in seeing his work. Vince and I knew each other in high school – the last time we’d seen or spoken to each other was 1976!

In April of 2020, I was on Facebook and noticed that a friend of mine who I attended high school with, happened to be friends with Vince. That, as they say, was a blast from the past. So I dropped him a line. It was good to see he was still alive. Once he vetted me and realized that I had all this cemetery photography stuff on my page, he invited me to view his Flickr album of same.

I was quite taken by his images, and decided to share some with you - with Vince’s approval, of course. I always find it interesting to see other photographers’ visions of the same scenes that I’ve photographed. While I’m not sure that I know the locations of all his cemetery scenes, I did recognize two in particular – Hollenback Cemetery in Wilkes-Barre, PA and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Hollenback I’ve been to many times, as Wilkes-Barre is the general vicinity in which I grew up. I think Vince lives in the area now; I’m in Philadelphia, about a hundred miles south. I still have relatives around Wilkes-Barre so I visit often. Maybe when COVID-19 allows for social interaction, we’ll actually meet up sometime.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery – near Tarrytown, New York, is a place I only visited once, about a year ago, so Vince’s images are as vivid to me as a freshly dug grave. Especially this one of Washington Irving’s headstone. It's kind of a spooky place. You really expect the Headless Horseman to come galloping over its hills!

I rather like the effects Vince uses to create his unique visions of what he sees. The images are masterful, and not overpowering. When I try to do this sort of thing with photo-editing software, the result looks like I banged on the image with a hammer. So I can appreciate his subtle use of the ghostly swirls in the sky. Nicely done.

Vince and I shared quite a few common interests in high school – friends, avant garde music, etc. So, forty-five years later, it was a bit startling to find that we'd both developed this additional common interest. An odd interest, as you'll aggree. He and I have not communicated a great deal about his photography. I don’t know what kind of camera he uses or his photo editing software. Maybe I don’t want to know, they're just tools, right? It’s sometimes enough to just look at and enjoy the art, without knowing how it was created. The art and architecture in Victorian-era graveyards has its own singular beauty. What makes it even more enjoyable is when someone uses it as a springboard to realize a new artistic vision.

Click here to see Vince Payavis' Flickr album.