I hate cemeteries. I always have. They are stark, cold, strange places where people come to hang their heads and stare at a headstone. I feel no solace in a cemetery even though I lost my parents when I was in my 20s and that’s the only place I can connect with them now. You would think I would feel differently about cemeteries, but I don’t.
As I wrote before, I returned to school this year as a student in RISD’s Digital Photography certificate program. I’m taking two classes this semester – one focusing on digital design and the other focusing on photography techniques. My photo class requires weekly projects and this week we focused on two themes: isolation and connection. These themes led me to the same place: the local cemetery.
The cemetery I visited happened to be a Catholic cemetery, so crosses were prevalent on many headstones. The headstone below caught my eye as I was driving by. I noticed the tilted cross first, but it was the inset photo that drew me in. I assume it is a photo of Caterina and Antonio Pagliuca, the couple who is buried there. This was my isolation shot. I knew it from the moment I looked at their faces in that inset photo.
Part of the critique exercise in my photo class is to learn how to present a photograph – to explain why you chose that subject, that angle, that lighting, etc. I chose the photo below as my isolation shot more because of the way I felt while looking at their photo and headstone. I felt lonely for them. They are together, but isolated from their family and friends. It really was more of an emotional reaction than an intellectual one.
Surprisingly, I found my connection themed shot right around the corner. Also in this cemetery is an open area filled with low headstones. The headstones stand out because there are so many and they are so plain and uniform. This area is where the nuns are buried. Each headstone you see in the photo below is for two nuns. Nuns live and work as a community, but it never occurred to me that they rest in peace as a community as well.