After coming back from New Orleans, I posted the following question on Instagram – Is it disrespectful to pose with graves? While it didn’t seem like a big deal to many people responding, I still felt unsure of what I thought in regards to posing with graves or even taking photos of graves. Even though, I had done it in the past and have also taken photos of the tombstones, I felt as though in a way I was disrespecting the dead and their relatives by doing so.
It may sound a bit silly, but many Native Americans and Peruvians believed that if they had their photo taken, their soul would be stolen and the spiritual world would be disrespected. Although, you don’t meet many who think this way, there are still a few who believe this and I have even met a few Peruvians with this mentality.
My point is that if people believed that cameras could take their souls and disrespect the spiritual world, who is to say that we weren’t disrespecting the soul of those who passed away or the spiritual world by taking a photo of their grave? So to answer my own question, I did some research on the matter.
At first I couldn’t find much in regards to graves and cameras, but after a few minutes I started to find superstitions. There is a superstition that states if you point your finger at a grave, you will have bad luck. Another mentioned that the collection of epitaphs would give the collector memory loss. So if you have a photo collection of epitaphs, you are most likely to lose your memory (if you believe in the superstition).
Aside from the superstitions, I couldn’t find anything about taking photos of the graves, but I did find some interesting selfies of people grinning at grave sites. This reminded me of an artist, who made it his mission to put tourists on display for disrespecting Holocaust memorials. Most of these tourists would use these memorials to take goofy photos, but if you know anything about the Holocaust memorials, then you know that is not the place to take lighthearted, goofy photos.
After, looking through a few articles and comments in regards to posing with graves, I started to believe that we need to be considerate of where we pose and how. Some places are clearly not the right place to pose or act silly. As a photographer, I feel that there are gray areas when it comes to taking photos of graves, but I believe that its not a bad thing to take photos (unless the cemetery forbids it). When I was in New Orleans, I saw plenty of people taking photos of graves, especially of those well known graves such as Marie Laveau.
So what do you think? Do you think its proper to pose with graves or take photos of tombstones?
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