Dave Higgins Photography

Looking at life through nano-coated lenses

Posts tagged ‘modern gravestones’

I took many photographs for this project in 2013; this is a collection of some of my favorites from the year. They were taken in upstate New York, Vermont and Texas. You can find more images from this series on the As We Are Now series page.

In 2013 I continued exploring the subject of modern cemetery folk art from a somewhat broader (and hopefully deeper) perspective. I’ve increased my attention on artifacts of human emotion – which could span a range from personal messages to loved ones to a coffee cup bearing some unknown significance. This project is also creating a record of how this folk art appears around the time it is created. As a visit to the older section of any cemetery will bear out, time and the elements inevitably take their toll on this kind of folk art.

♦ ♦

(Clicking on any image will open a slide show.)

All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2014; all rights reserved.

Leave a comment

I took many photographs for this project in 2012; you can find 3 sets of them on the As We Are Now series page. This is a collection of some of my favorites from the year. They were taken in upstate New York and Texas.

In 2012 I found myself exploring the subject of modern cemetery folk art from a somewhat broader (and hopefully deeper) perspective. While I’m still very interested in the subject matter itself, I’m more sensitive these days to context – to the settings that may surround the folk art I’m photographing. This project is also creating a record of how this folk art appears around the time it is created. As a visit to the older section of any cemetery will bear out, time and the elements inevitably take their toll on this kind of folk art.

Early 2012 also featured Nikon’s introduction of a special new camera – the D800. Along with its sibling the D800E this camera offers a full-sized 36 megapixel sensor that provides much better resolution than the predecessor D700 – which I had previously been using for this project. It took me months to actually get the camera (it was very popular on introduction), and it then took me a while to get a handle on how to best use it and to find the best lenses to take advantage of its capabilities. This will explain why all of these images were created in the second half of 2012.

As my familiarity with both this project and the D800 grows, I’m looking forward to working further on this series in 2013.

(Clicking on any image will open a slide show.)

♦ ♦

All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2013; all rights reserved.

Leave a comment

As We Are Now – Fall 2012

In addition to my November visit to Texas, I’ve continued work on the As We Are Now series closer to home in upstate New York. I’m continuing to explore the subject of modern cemetery folk art from a somewhat broader (and hopefully deeper) perspective. While I’m very interested in the subject matter itself, I’m more sensitive these days to context – to the settings that may surround the folk art I’m photographing. Given the time of year, the weather and fall foliage often became an ingredient in this collection of images.

(Clicking on any image will open a slide show.)

♦ ♦

All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2013; all rights reserved.

Leave a comment

While it may seem otherwise, my series “As We Are Now” is really about life rather than death. (If it was about death per se, it would more fittingly be called “So We Must Be.”) As I’ve noted before, this series is exploring questions like: What does today’s cemetery folk art tell future generations about us? What does that tell us about ourselves? And how do we deal with the mystery of Life and Death today?

Still, if you spend much time looking at gravestones in a cemetery, it’s impossible to not think about the people buried there. Not just who they were when they were alive, but who and where they might be now. There are wide-ranging points of view about what happens after death, including whether there is an afterlife and, if so, what that afterlife might be like. These thoughts can eventually lead to questions about the matter of visiting cemeteries in general – another issue about which there may be wide-ranging points of view.

Some people may view cemetery visits as “disturbing the dead” while others may view cemeteries as peaceful places to visit, pay respects to the dead, and even use for recreation. Rural cemeteries were actually precursors of public parks, offering open space that was welcomed in increasingly urban areas:

The “rural” cemeteries laid out by horticulturists in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York in the 1830s were romantic pastoral landscapes of the picturesque type. Planned as serene and spacious grounds where the combination of nature and monuments would be spiritually uplifting, they came to be looked on as public parks, places of respite and recreation acclaimed for their beauty and usefulness to society.

Personally, I have come to approach the graves I visit as a portrait photographer. I try to shut out my own thoughts and biases and respectfully attempt to capture something of the nature of those I’m photographing. While the series theme may be “as we are now,” I believe the best way I can address that theme is by letting my subjects speak for themselves.

With this in mind, I recently happened to hear the following song by Bruce Springsteen while driving between cemeteries in Vermont to scout out possible future photo subjects. I think it’s an excellent complement for this series.

Leave a comment

Pickup Truck – Joshua, TX 11/6/2012

I’ve added a selection of photos for the As We Are Now series from my recent trip to Texas. As I continue to work on this series, I feel that I’m getting a  better sense of what I’m doing. This includes both lighting/time of day and equipment. For the former, I’ve gravitated towards very early and late in the day, when the light is softer and shadows are more of a factor. For me the most successful images in this series contain both colors and shadows as prime ingredients. In addition to being visually appealing, I think these elements reflect a tension not unlike that which exists between life and death.  Regarding equipment, when I first resumed photographing modern gravestones in 2008 (on a trip to Texas) I was using a Nikon D80 camera. It offered decent 10MP photographs, but was merely average compared to other cameras available at the time. This year I began using a Nikon D800, with a full-frame 36MP sensor that offers dramatically better resolution and richness in its images. With this great camera I’m seeking out both new subjects and settings as well as old subjects that deserve higher quality results. I think the outcome of all this has been my best Texas images since I started taking gravestone pictures there in 2008.

Leave a comment