Saturday, 20 October 2012

Early Meanderings of the Graveyard Detective

Last weekend, I found an old photographic paper box and on opening it, found a considerable number of images of myself. A small number of them showed me on my travels recording graves. As I have some time on my hands for once, I will reproduce a handful here.

I started visiting cemeteries and graveyards more years ago than I care to remember. That said, right from the start I found myself interested in not only the names and inscriptions, but also in the funerary architecture on display. Most of my early shots were exposed on 35mm black and white film and then I started carrying a second camera loaded with colour slides. Thank heavens for digital as I now only need to carry one camera (or my trusty iPhone4).

In the 1980s, I got a job on a fortnightly magazine and travelled a bit - well, a lot. Just about everywhere I went I took the opportunity to visit cemeteries. It was great and I found some really interesting memorials. I also got to meet and interview some really interesting people but that's another story. People often ask me how I chose the title of this blog. Simple, really. Years ago, I arrived at a cemetery looking for interesting stories and saw a friend already there. On seeing me, he turned to his companion and said: "Look, it's the graveyard detective!" The name stuck!

One piece of advice I give people is to shoot as many photographs as you can. When I used film, I used to say - Film is cheap, don't hold back! Now, in the digital age, with a large capacity memory card you can take hundreds of photos cheaply. And remember to get closes-ups. I remember going to one of the early Kensal Green cemetery open days and kneeling in front of a gravestone to record some detail. I heard a guided tour group approaching behind me and, to my great pleasure, heard the guide say: "Look at that young man taking a close-up. What do I keep telling you? Get closer!" I was especially pleased to hear that as the guide was my great heroine - the wonderful architectural photographer, Lucinda Lambton.

1980s. Here I am posing for a photograph to accompany a newspaper article about myself. I look pretty serious, but can remember my shoes were a creamy green colour. The memorial is to a young army officer who died when his balloon fell into the sea in the early part of the last century. Yes, I know I have 'one foot on the grave' but it was grassed.
Just arrived in a Portuguese cemetery and raring to go.
Portugal - I have only just noticed the skull at the feet of the figure.

1970s. Not strictly a grave, the crew of a Second World War aircraft had died here. I am in the centre looking terrible with dreadful long hair and an awful wooly hat. By way of excuse, I had completed 11 years Army service the year before and, having enlisted at 15, felt I was entitled to grow my hair long for the first time - just to see what it was like!


ali naqvi said...

That architecture as absolutely marvelous! Plastic business cards Thanks for share.

ali naqvi said...

Mind-blowing idea's..!! really awesome...Plastic cards

Holisticrocs said...

Wow you looked like Noddy Holder he he he

Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?


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