It’s late afternoon and you need to stretch your legs, why not grab a friend and head over to photograph headstones in a local cemetery? You’ll get your daily dose of exercise, fresh air, and your headstone photos will help others with their research far into the future. You can even fulfill some photo requests!
Before you leave on your cemetery outing, you’ll want to:
Here are some suggestions and tips for photographing a headstone.
- Use a camera or cellphone with GPS enabled to add the grave’s location.
- Make sure your lens is clean and avoid including your fingers, feet, or shadow.
- Make sure the stone is readable; remove debris such as soil, leaves, or twigs.
- Take multiple photos. This will give you more choices when uploading photos to the site.
- Photograph the entire headstone straight on so that it nearly fills the frame. If the stone is upright, you may need to kneel to get the best shot. You can photograph at different readable angles as well.
- If the headstone has multiple sides with text, then photograph each side.
- A close up of text on the headstone.
- An area photo of the stone, giving context and showing surroundings of the grave.
- A shadow can help text be more pronounced, morning or evening may be best.
- Consider using reflective material (such as mirror or foil on flat surface) to cast light on the stone.
- If there is not a marker for the grave, take photos of the grave location in context to the surrounding stones. Add to the caption that the grave is unmarked.
Adding photos to Find a Grave
Volunteers can add photos through the site or the Find a Grave app. Once uploaded, the photos are available for the world to see! GPS coordinates will automatically add to the memorial if you take your pictures with a GPS enabled phone or camera.
Also, through the Find a Grave app you can see what memorials need GPS and add the location by tapping the pin icon on the memorial page while standing at the grave. We talk more about GPS in this blog post.
Find a Grave app (iOS): Tap on the + (Add) sign in the lower menu. Tap on New Headstone Photos or add a single photo (tap camera icon) when on the memorial page.
Find A Grave app (Android): Search for the cemetery or tap the cemetery on the map. Tap on Add Headstone Photos or add a single photo (tap camera icon) when on the memorial page.
- Go to the cemetery page where you took the photos and choose Upload Headstone Photos (Transcribe) or add a single photo to a memorial page by clicking Add Photo. This video details uploading multiple headstone photos all at once using Transcribe on our website.
Make someone’s day by claiming and fulfilling their Photo Request! Find photo requests by clicking the camera icon in the upper right corner on the website. In the app under Cemetery Search, cemeteries that have open photo requests have a green pin. Go to the cemetery page in the app and click on the photo requests. Claim and Fulfill the photo request from the memorial page. For more information about this program, visit this post or our help page and scroll down to Photo Requests.
Adding photos/memorials, GPS coordinates, and fulfilling photo requests are fantastic ways to volunteer. Thanks for joining our Find a Grave Community and contributing to Find a Grave!