Taking photographs for the Gravestone Photographic Resource

Taking the Photos

The most important item of equipment you require to become a volunteer is a digital camera. The other bit of equipment you might need is a PC with a CD or DVD writer. If you do not have a CD or DVD writer then the Resource can send you either a USB memory stick or an SD memory card. The only other equipment that you might need is an old soft brush to gently remove any moss or lichen that sometimes makes the monuments difficult to read. However in general it is better not to touch the monument at all.

When you visit a churchyard or cemetery always make sure that the first image is of something showing the church or cemetery name and location - normally there is a board near the entrance or if it is a disused church there will probably be a notice in the porch. Then take a few images of the church or cemetery entrance from a variety of views - one of these will be used for the cemetery website page. If there is a cemetery layout plan then please also take a photograph of this.

Then attempt to photograph all the legible monuments - if they are so worn as to unreadable then omit them. The details from all photos taken are added to the project database.

If there is a church and you are able to, please take photos of any monuments within it. These are especially useful as they are normally in very good condition and often contain lots of information. Those that are part of the church floor are usually very old. If the church has stained glass windows then check to see if there is a dedication at the bottom. If there is then take a photo of the window. You may need to take one of the whole window and another one of the dedication.

Please use the finest setting on your camera as it them makes it easier to enlarge the images on a computer. By doing this names and dates will sometimes appear that cannot always be seen by the naked eye.

In some cases it may be necessary to take more than one photo of a monument. For instance, if the monument is very tall then take one photo of the entire monument and another of just the text part. Another case where it would be necessary to take multiple photographs are those monuments that have writing on more that one face. If you do take more than one photograph of a monument then it is helpful if you later rename these so that they the same name as the initial photograph but with an additonal lower case "a", "b", "c" etc.

After taking the images, they need to be transferred to your PC. It is helpful if you create a folder called "gravestone photos" or "GPR" and within this folder create separate folders of each churchyard you photograph. Store all the images for a particular churchyard in a separate folder named after the village. If the churchyard is from a town with several churchyards then create a folder with the name of the town and then create sub-folders with the names of the churches or cemeteries. If you photograph a very large cemetery it can be easier if you photograph it in sections and store each secion in a separate folder. Large municipal cemeteries will often have a layout plan which you can use to identify the different sections.

If you are photographing a church and have access to its inside then please take some general photos of it. The Resource will in the future publish these images on the church web page.

If you have a camera that has a built in GPS then please make sure it is turned on when you photograph monuments. If you don't have a GPS camera but do have either an Android or iPhone then perhaps you should think about using a GeoTracking app such as "Geotag Photos Pro". If you synchronise the time on your camera and mobile phone then this app will record your photographic journey and the GPS has software to merge this with the photos you took.

gravestone monument photographing tips

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Gravestone Photographic Resource (GPR)

An international directory of grave, tomb, war and other death memorials.

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Running free of charge for 25 years!