Grasp The Moment Photography

Christmas In The Cemetery

It’s funny how I, at one time, thought this blog could only be about photos, and not about me. It was a friend who the other night finally keyed me into the fact that since the photos are me, then whatever I blog about will be me as well.

The other morning I grabbed my gear and headed out the door and wound up in a cemetery … again. As I’ve tried to explain, It’s not just that I’m insane or have an unnatural attraction to cemeteries, but it’s also because I’m surrounded by them. I live in the “Cemetery Belt” of New York City. Also, despite my urban upbringing I’ve always been a nature lover. In this city, the best place to see what the world would look like if not for the injection of concrete, steel and glass, are cemeteries. Parks are too man-made and designed to get a real feel for it… I’ve never seen a hawk in Juniper Valley Park, but I’ve seen them in a cemetery.

Of course, as I walked my mind wandered and I wasn’t surprised where it wound up, given my surroundings. Bob was not only my biggest fan, and the most encouraging person when it came to my hobby, but he was also one of my closest friends and confidants. Bob was one of those guys who knew the whole story, even if I tried to leave out a detail, he’d figure it out. Bob loved looking at my photos. I would even send him private ones, snapshots from my vacations or trips with my kids to museums or just playing in the park, stuff that never made Flickr or Grasp The Moment because he loved seeing smiling faces. However, as for the rest of the stuff, Bob always told me he loved my cemetery stuff the best. He grew up in this area, and like me, spent a lot of time in them. Yes, Bob spent a lot of time on the wrong side of the tracks, and cemeteries were also excluded spots where he could be left alone by the law, but he always told me that he too saw a peace and tranquility in between the stones as well.

Bob left us all Thanksgiving day in the stupidest of ways which does not make it any less painful not to have him here anymore.

My memories and thoughts of Bob were interrupted by a soft sound in the distance. I was in a newer part of the cemetery, one I usually don’t shoot in because the graves are newer, modern, not the old craftsmanship which I am so fond of. I usually just hustle through it. At the edge of the section was tree, bare of it’s leaves, but decorated for Christmas. The ornaments seemed personal, mostly cars and a motorcycle, and whoever placed them there made sure they wouldn’t blow away in the winter wind. It was obviously done with great care. As I photographed I noticed that some of the graves around were also decorated.

Who did this? Why? Definitely not the names on the stones themselves, but the names they left behind, that was obvious, but I wrestled with why as I walked along. As I reached the top of a hill, a blast of chilly air hit me in the face, and I knew right away it was Bob. “You idiot.” I felt he was telling me. “Death is something we all struggle to make sense of, and we all find our own way to deal with it. Some curl up in a ball, some decorate the graves of their lost ones and some walk, camera in hand, trying to make sense of it all. Now go take some more photos, Slick, and you don’t have to remember to email me anymore, I see them the second you take them.”

I will Bob. In fact, just help me out sometimes, move the clouds a bit so I can get the perfect light or something ok?

I’ll see you some day. Until then, stay outta trouble.

Below are the shots I took that day. To see more of the Cemetery Shots that Bob loved so much visit my Flickr Set


Golden Cross

Parachuting Santa

Cemetery Christmas Tree


9 responses

  1. suehenryphotography

    Well, Slick. You’ve done it again. Another moving story with photos that go waaaaay beyond “nice shot.”

    So sorry for the loss of your friend. I am confident that his memory WILL continue to provide inspiration for your work….perhaps in unusual ways. Friendship has a way of doing that.

    December 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

  2. Joe


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your photos about a sad moment.


    December 7, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  3. Jenn

    Once again, your way of telling your story is as beautiful as your photos.
    Seeing things through your eyes, especially things like this, truly puts a whole other perspective on what touches the heart.
    These photos are as sharp and crisp as the air you spoke of that day.
    They’re outstanding.
    I hope Bob walks with you often…

    December 7, 2008 at 3:23 pm

  4. StKev

    “Yeah, right,” Willy said that, all the time. To me, or anyone he was talking to. Head cocked, eyes heavy-lidded, half a smile, “Yeah, right.” A true New Yawkah.
    AIDS claimed him almost twenty years ago to this day. Like Bob, his death could have been avoided. There are times when I miss him terribly and think about how things might have been if they were different, then I hear, “Yeah, right,” and Willy’s here again.
    You feel like Bob’s with you? Sometimes we’re lucky that way.

    December 7, 2008 at 9:25 pm

  5. These displays in cemeteries always fascinate me. You’ve done a terrific job capturing their beauty and also explaining the motivation behind them. So sorry about your friend…

    December 7, 2008 at 9:43 pm

  6. John (Dad)

    Beautifully written triubute. And, as usual, thought inpsiring photos.

    December 8, 2008 at 8:42 am

  7. Dan

    love the colors :))

    December 12, 2008 at 4:27 pm

  8. A well written post to compliment the beautiful images!

    Sorry for your loss mate!

    December 18, 2008 at 10:01 pm

  9. Tear jerker of the worst kind. The outlook you’re taking on this is top notch.

    The swinging Santa ornament seems to hold my stare the longest of all the photographs. He seems FREE!

    December 26, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s