Life Lessons via Cemeteries.

One thing my mom and I love to do together is go to random cemeteries and look around. We’ve been doing this for most of my life, we just stop and look at  names, birthdays, death dates, the details of tombstones. While it sounds morbid, it isn’t that way at all. It’s fun to me to guess what they were in life, how were they as a father/husband/wife/mother/sister/daughter/brother/etc. I wonder how they lived their lives, what were their occupations, was it a tragic, unexpected death, or was it a calm, peaceful death? How were these families affected by the ordeal? These are all questions that run through my mind as I’m examining tombstones. I especially seek out the older cemeteries, to me these are more majestic and magical. These people didn’t have the modern day technologies that we have and I wonder what they spent their days doing. They didn’t have iPhones to play Bejeweled and check their e-mail so my brain is consumed with how they lived their life and what their responsibilities were through out the day, week, month, year.

While at Texas Tech University, I took an independent study course through Texas State Photographer, Wyman Meinzer. I spent the fall semester traveling around Texas shooting cemeteries. It was here that I developed a deeper love for the appreciation of people and their lives. My family loved helping me and my mom, my aunt Janice and I would spend hours researching and driving down country roads in search for old cemeteries. We found cemeteries with Civil War veterans, unmarked soldiers graves, even an Indian Chief. One particular trip, my family and I loaded up the Jeep and headed to Ft. McKavitt, a small community by my hometown, to shoot an old cemetery there. It was a great family trip as my dad had never seen me in action when I photograph at night. The family time was much appreciated and I knew that as these families that were buried in this cemetery valued family time, at that moment my family was enjoying our togetherness. Through out the semester, I shot and got some great photographs, leave it to Wyman to get me motivated and inspired to shoot for my dreams!

I’m fascinated with people’s lives, I love to wonder what was their most powerful moment, what was their shining moment that cultivated and shaped their life? After the semester was over, I still continued to shoot and photograph cemeteries. I drive through random country roads on the way to Sonora or my other home away from home, Winters. During my drive back to Austin from Sonora over Thanksgiving break, I discovered a cemetery that I have driven by numerous times, the pups and I decided to venture off and pay this cemetery a visit. This cemetery was a very, very, very old cemetery and unfortunately I can’t remember the name. On my drive back to Sonora for the holidays, I’ll stop and get the name for you guys. Below are a few photos that I shot from this cemetery. What I got out of this particular shoot was the engravings that were left for their loved ones. I really was taken aback by the simplest words but they were meant for deep, meaningful thoughts. I encourage you guys to stop and take a break from a long drive and explore a cemetery and see what lessons can you learn. Enjoy.

All four of these were infants.

She must have been something truly special to her family.

Love it, live it, capture it.

~ Jalys

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