Cemeteries are the subject of the Parting Shots section of this month’s issue of the magazine. Here are a few of our favorite shots. Story and photos by Jeffrey James Keyes
- Why do you check out cemeteries when you travel?
I think some of the most incredible artwork can be found in cemeteries, I love seeing how some are well maintained and others have the feel of a secret garden, like you’ve stumbled into some storybook garden with trees and vines growing over the statues and graves. All cemeteries have the same peaceful vibe, it automatically grounds me and reminds me that life is fleeting. Whenever I leave a cemetery I feel slightly recharged, like I’m ready to live and tackle the world.
- Do you travel to places you know will have cemeteries or do you simply check out cemeteries when you find them?
I often investigate if there is an interesting cemetery whenever I travel and to my best to make it there. El Cementerio de la Recoleta in Buenos Aires is listed in all the travel books because it’s where Eva Peron rests in her family mausoleum. I always seem to stumble on cemeteries wherever I go, and make an effort to go in and take a walk. You never know who you’re going to “run into” in these beautiful places.
- What has surprised you about cemeteries?
I’m always surprised by little things: trinkets people leave on gravestones, quirky epitaphs inscribed on tombstones, and graves that have been already set up for people who haven’t passed away yet.
- Have you discovered any gay signifiers that identify deceased LGBT people?
There are always more flowers and the grass is perfectly manicured.
- Favorite cemetery shot…
It’s hard to say but I continually go back to my La Recoleta images and my favorite is marked here as. There’s something haunting and beautiful about this statue. I used the image as a main image for a play I wrote recently called “Ghost Stories.” I had a lot of people inquire about the statue and feel it is one of many gorgeous statues that can be seen in the cemetery.
- Best time to visit cemeteries for others who may be interested…
All four seasons have their charm but it really depends on the destination and what the weather is like. In New York City I like to go to the Uptown Trinity Cemetery in the fall. Eliza Jumel and John James Audubon are buried there and the landscape with the falling leaves is inspiring and stunning. This goes the same for the cemetery in Sleepy Hollow and most East Coast/New England cemeteries. Many of the old cemeteries were designed as parks where people would bring the family and spend the whole day. This was before air conditioning and Netflix, of course. Old school cemeteries, though less traveled, are the perfect place for a summer picnic. It’s an unexpected escape from an otherwise hectic work week or jam packed vacation.