Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Magnificent Gravesite

Here's a tombstone picture you shouldn't be seeing. I'm feeling guilty about showing it on my blog because of something the cemetery caretaker said to me. I'm sharing it with you anyway because it is the most spiritual and elegant tombstone I've personally ever seen. I've seen tombstones and crypts that were larger and very grand looking but none quite so apropos to its resident.

Buried here is RT. REV. JAMES G. DOHERTY, LLD. I think there were more details about him on the tomb but I was afraid to get out of the truck to go check it out. I didn't want to draw attention to myself. There was a security guard parked just across the street from the tomb. So I just opened up the sunroof, stuck my camera up and hit the shutter hoping for the best. I don't mean any disrespect to this obviously religious man so I'm sharing this photo with you anyway. But I have to admit that I have some conflicted feelings about it now.

The caretaker (I'm using that term to mean the gentleman who I spoke with in the cemetery's business office) told me that taking photos in the cemetery was prohibited out of respect to the families of the deceased. He went on to explain that some might find it offensive to have the gravesites of their loved ones photographed. I was caught off guard and didn't know how to reply to that. I've never heard of such a thing. He told me that if a security guard saw me he would report me to him. I was nothing less than surprised. Am I just ignorant or is this a common cemetery policy? Have any of you come across this sort of thing before?

Click on the image for a larger view.


  1. Can't say that I've come across that policy before, and I've photographed a lot of tombstones in a lot of different cemeteries. I'm not sure how photographing a stone, already on public display, is construed as disrespectful to the family either. I'll have to think about this...

  2. Yes, I've heard that before, unfortunately. I've had cemeteries say they prohibit photos because a family member was upset at seeing their relative's headstone in the background of a photo in a college newspaper.

    I've had officials at a National Cemetery tell me that headstone photos are not permitted because "people steal identities" although the Veterans Administration's Nationwide Gravesite Locator provides the same information with a few keystrokes.

    Though it hasn't happened to me personally, I know people who have been escorted out of a cemetery for taking photos, although no sign was posted concerning photographs.

    No, it's not common but it does happen. I'm sorry that you weren't able to celebrate that life and study the headstone even more closely. Thanks for sharing what must have been a beautiful monument.

    Maybe I'll have a chance to see it myself. I have some long-gone family in the area.

  3. I've taken gravesite photos all over the country, and never had this happen to me. As many cemeteries are private property, I suppose the owners of that property can make whatever rules they want concerning photos. The identity-theft rationale is a bunch of hooey, and if anyone pulled the "relatives only" thing on me I've got the fact that almost all the photos I take are of my own relatives' stones. Even for those that are not relatives, though I too fail to see any disrespect whatsoever. Given that (a) the purpose of the stone itself is a public or semi-public display, and (b) the purpose of the photo is to honor or recognize the deceased in some way.