Cemeteries have always held a special place in my heart. As a teenager, I lived across the street from a tiny, old Indian cemetery and would spend hours sitting on the graves reading books or writing angst-filled poetry. As an adult, cemeteries have become one of my favorite places to take pictures. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to make it to Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, but after talking to some friends this past weekend, I decided I needed to go.
Besides the fact this cemetery provides the resting grounds for Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglas, Buffalo Bill’s children, and a host of other well-known folks, it is breathtakingly beautiful and rich with Victorian symbolism. As I drove around the 14 miles of winding roads, certain statues seemed to call out to me. They were so life-like. I suppose after hundreds of years of overlooking the dead and the grieving souls who come visit the dead, these statues embody the ineffable.
Sometimes, when I take photos, I’m a step removed from why I am drawn to a subject because I get so busy clicking away. I knew the statues were beautiful, and I knew I should photograph them, but I wasn’t prepared for how I would fall in love with them. Last night, as I began editing the photos, I literally felt my heart stop beating as my breath was taken away when I got to the photos of the statues. Time and nature seemed to transform these statues into sentient beings, glowing with an energy of an ever-watchful presence.
I thought the statues were best represented in monochrome, but a few begged to be left in color:
These two appear to glow. I should mention there was no direct light shining on them.
And, of course, a trip to Mt. Hope wouldn’t be complete with visiting Susan B. Anthony’s grave. I have no explanation as to why the snow is red in front of her grave, but it gave it an eerie feeling…certainly symbolic of the struggle of women’s rights in this country. And, bizarrely, the auto-focus on the lens I was using seemed to crap out while I was photographing her grave, which only served to add to the eeriness.