I’m still sick with this stupid cold, but I managed to get out to Cypress Lawn yesterday to hear Douglas Keister talk about the tombs he’s visited in the Holy Land. Oh, how I wish he already had a book about them!
Keister is the author of Going Out in Style: The Architecture of Eternity, Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, and Forever L.A.: A Field Guide to Los Angeles Area Cemeteries and their Residents, as well as cemetery guides to New York, Paris, and the American South. He thinks of himself as a photographer of architecture who is interested in the history of cemeteries.
After his lecture, Keister led three of us on a “photography adventure” of the cemetery as the sun set. It was marvelous. I’ve been taking cemetery photos for decades now, but my pictures are okay at best. I just point my camera and hope for the best.
Keister showed us how to look. Then he showed us how to light. He allowed us to play with his reflectors, demonstrating the difference between silver and gold reflections. Each of us got to take a turn holding the external flash and seeing how many different ways you could take the same photograph.
I wish I had my strength back, that I hadn’t been coughing too hard to hold the camera steady. I didn’t take nearly enough photographs and I didn’t take any notes, but I learned so much that I am eager to take advantage of the next lovely autumn day and shoot yet more images.
There was talk that this photo safari will become an annual event. Keister is scheduled to come back to Cypress Lawn next October 18 (2015) to talk about “101 Tombs to Check Out Before You Do.” With luck, he’ll lead another exploration around the cemetery in the twilight. I’m already looking forward to it.
Links to Douglas Keister’s cemetery books on Amazon:
Forever Dixie: A Field Guide to Southern Cemeteries & Their Residents
Forever L.A: A Field Guide To Los Angeles Area Cemeteries & Their Residents
Going Out in Style: The Architecture of Eternity
Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography
Stories in Stone New York: A Field Guide to New York City Area Cemeteries & Their Residents