Taking Photos of Cemeteries, Monuments, and
Digital photography has made the preservation of
cemeteries, using pictures, affordable. Many
people are now adding pictures to their
transcriptions. Many of these older stones that
are still legible enough to transcribe may not be
in another 15 to 20 years. By capturing these
monuments in photos now, future generations will
be able to read these monuments.
If you are just beginning we have a list of
recommended pictures to take. You may have other
picture angles and views you prefer, but we still
recommend that the pictures listed below are
taken to capture the information on the stone and
the placement of the stone in the cemetery.
Take as many photos as you need. Generally,
information that is difficult to read in person
will not be any easier to read from a photo. When
in doubt get a close-up photo. It's usually
better to have a picture you don't need than to
need a picture you don't have.
Getting Organized: Sections, Rows, Monuments
Before taking the first photo; plan the sections,
rows, and stones that will be photographed.
Be consistant and complete each row from
beginning to end proceeding row by row and
section by section. Take a photo of the ground at
the end of each row indicate the end of one row
and the beginning of another. A small chalkboard
or dry erase board with the section and row
written on it work well too. When beginning a new
section snap a few pictures of the entire section
along with a picture of the sky or the dry erase
board with the section information written on it.
If there is no information on the back or side of
a tombstone then the back and side snapshots can
Distance snapshot: 15 to 20 feet at a 45
Front snapshot: 5 to 10 feet directly
facing the front of the monument.
Back snapshot: 5 to 10 feet directly
facing the rear of the monument.
Side snapshots: 5 to 10 feet directly
facing the sides of the monument.
Closeup snapshots: Zoom-in on hard to
read information such as marriage dates which
are usually small engravings.
Additional Photos & Techniques
On the older illegible stones using the camera
negative setting may improve your ability
to read the information when viewing them. If you
camera does not have this setting you can still
change a picture to a negative with many of the
photo editing products available today. Take
pictures on this setting when the stone is very
difficult to read.
Even the best photos will be unable to produce
legible photos of some of the older stones.
Many of the older marble stone's inscriptions
fade with time. We recommend cornstarch baby
powder. Cornstarch is natural and will rise off
easily with water. Sprinkle some of the
cornstarch on a cloth and lightly dust the
inscription. The inscription will stand out like
the stone is new again. Rinse with water when
Cemetery Maps and Views
Making a simple map and taking pictures of entire
sections, signs, and other distinctive features
of the cemetery will help others who have never
been to the cemetery orient themselves without
Street Snapshots: A picture or pictures
showing the entire cemetery from the street.
Section snapshot: Take pictures of
distinctive features within each section. This
could be a monument, tree, building, etc...
Provide a map of the cemetery if there is
more than one section. These can be drawn by
hand or many cemeteries have these available
upon request. Get written permission before
CemEditor cemetery transcription easily
organizes photos and transcriptions into a