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Analogue Taphophile

Taphophilia: a love for funerals, graves, and cemeteries. Does this make me weird? No! It makes me want to take my cameras and go out to a cemetery, take pictures, and share the works of art that are hidden in places that are considered morbid or wrong.

I get this itch. It’s hard to explain. I want to go to a cold place where people’s families are gone and loved ones are forgotten. I pack up my cameras, bring some extra film, and go to a cemetery. The tears that were shed in these gardens of stone don’t bother me. I’m going to take pictures and visit the people that I don’t even know.

I started going to cemeteries recently. I’m working on a family tree and I want to find out where my family is buried. I’m finding some interesting things while looking for family. I had fun that day. I was hooked. Then, I started going to cemeteries that I pass everyday and I end up finding fascinating things.

For example, at St John’s UCC Mickley’s in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, USA, there is the Mickley Family. They were originally buried in Egypt Cemetery, Egypt, Pennsylvania, USA but they were re-interred in Whitehall. This big tombstone that looked like a stair case caught my eye. I took a picture and went to the local library and did some research. Turns out that a Mr John Jacob Mickley is buried there. He was a cart, buried in manure, with the bells that went from Philadelphia to Allentown, Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War. He is a Revolutionary War hero, this I knew from the government issued stone, but I didn’t realize what he did. Try and find that one in the history text books.

I also started to become fascinated with the art work. The statues that are carved by hand and the flat tombstones that were carved by hand in the 1700’s all grab my attention. It makes me imagine of how funerals used to be and how they are now.

You can also find a mausoleum. Mausoleums are not only fun, but they are shelters from the ordinary. Sure, tombstones are great and you can find awesome things on them but a mausoleum is just something else. You go inside the right one and the awe inspiring stained glass can take your breath away. However, some of these can be poorly lit so taking a picture in here can be difficult.

With or without proper lighting, with or without tombstones, cemeteries can provoke many emotions from sadness to fear to a feeling of euphoria. Yes, euphoria and not because you are happy anyone is dead. The sadness in cemeteries just doesn’t exist for me. Why? Because I find something else in cemeteries. They attract me like a fly attracted to a light bulb. So, when you walk or drive by a cemetery, don’t get creeped out! Join the many people who find peace in these spectacular places. If you don’t, then the history, the art, and the people will be forgotten forever.

written by bass_clarinet_2000

6 comments

  1. lucretia

    lucretia

    In my country, Romania, there is a very interesting cemetery. It is called "The Joyful Cemetery" and is situated in Săpânţa. It is very colorful and on every gravestone there is a funny poem about the life of the person in that grave. Check out some photos http://www.google.ro(…)amp;bih=879

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  2. buckshot

    buckshot

    @lucretia: Wow, that is an incredible cemetery! So colourful, arty and obviously designed with passion and love - definitely not morbid. I'd really love to lomo that one! All cemeteries should be like that. Well done, Romania!

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  3. lucretia

    lucretia

    @buckshot: Yes, it is quite impressive. I went there a few years ago and took some shots, but not with an analogue camera - so sad :(. The Sapanta cemetery is not the only attraction in the area. The Maramures region is full of incredible places. Hope I revisit Maramures some day.

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  4. susieleelou

    I enjoyed your article and photos. I have always enjoyed old cemeteries, for the art and the history....here is a huge cemetery in Cleveland, OH "Lakeview Cemetery", which is not only beautiful, but they hold tours and events, sometimes in the evening hours, which is very cool! One evening I was there to study bats, and after dark, while in the middle of the cemetery, a thunderstorm started....I won't ever forget it! LONG LIVE FILM!
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  5. brixwillbeshat

    brixwillbeshat

    These photos are fantastic, especially the black and white Holga shots. Those are mesmerizing.

    I, too, have always been drawn by cemeteries. I find them fascinating; they make me wonder about the people lying beneath--what did they do? Why did they choose this headstone? I see this one was taken at a young age; what happened to them?

    One cemetery I've come to really like is Nisky Hill Cemetery in Bethlehem, PA. If you're ever in the area, I'd suggest visiting it.

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  6. bass_clarinet_2000

    bass_clarinet_2000

    @brixwillbeshat I was never in that cemetery but I think I pass it on my way to Central Moravian Church. I'm close to it. I live near Allentown so it isn't a far drive for me. I should go there. Thanks for the comment! :D

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