Photo Volunteer By Cemetery

There’s nothing quite like getting an email letting you know that a Find a Grave photo volunteer fulfilled your photo request and now you can go to the site and see the gravestone of your family member or someone you are researching. Photo volunteers are one of the things that make Find a Grave such a wonderful community to be part of. They give their time and knowledge of an area to help others who are looking for a gravestone image, but live too far away or can’t get to the graveyard themselves. If you’ve never heard of photo volunteering, you can learn more here. We love our photo volunteers and thank them for all their efforts.

In the past, photo volunteers set the location where they could volunteer by entering a zip code or placing a pin on a map and then choosing how far from that place they could go. That’s worked pretty well, but we often hear from people who would like to volunteer for a specific cemetery or we hear complaints that not all the cemeteries included within the radius they have chosen make sense.

With that feedback in mind, we’ve been working on some changes that we hope will help make the photo volunteer experience even better. We’ve updated the site so that you can choose which cemeteries you will take pictures in.

Now, when you register with the site or choose to be a photo volunteer, you can provide a city or county or use your current location and we’ll find the cemeteries in that area and you can add them to the list of cemeteries you volunteer in. For those of you who are already photo volunteers, we’ve added the cemeteries within the radius of your old location to your list. You can always add or remove cemeteries from that list in the Photo Volunteer section of your Account.

The main places you’ll see this change are when you register, on the cemetery page, in your account and on the photo requests page.

When you register for the site, you have the option to become a photo volunteer. When you do, we’ll ask you for a location and then automatically add the cemeteries in that location to your list of volunteer cemeteries. You can see the cemeteries we’ve added using the “View list” link. From there you can remove any cemeteries you don’t want to include.

Cemetery Page:
You can add or remove an individual cemetery from your volunteer list by going to that cemetery’s page and either selecting the “Volunteer” button to volunteer there or, if you are already a volunteer and would like to stop volunteering there, select the “Volunteering” button (this will change to “Unvolunteer” when your cursor is over it).

Account Page:
To see and update the list of cemeteries where you volunteer, visit the Photo Volunteer section of the Account page. There you can become a photo volunteer if you aren’t already or stop volunteering if you need to. You’ll also see a list of cemeteries where you are a volunteer and you can select the “Unvolunteer” x to stop volunteering there or use the “Add a Cemetery” button to find more cemeteries where you can volunteer. Once you select “Add a cemetery,” you can type in a city or county name or use your current location to see a list of cemeteries in that area that where you can volunteer. Select “Volunteer” to add all the cemeteries in the list or uncheck those you don’t want and then select “Volunteer” to add only those you have left checked.

Sometimes a member will contact us to say they are moving and can no longer volunteer in their old location so they would like us to update that for them. You can always make those updates yourself in the Photo Volunteer area. Just clear your old selections using the “Unvolunteer from all” option and then enter your new location to find cemeteries in your new area.

Photo Requests Page:
The Photo Requests page is a place to find new photo requests you can work on. By default the page will show open requests, with no problems reported, in cemeteries where you have chosen to volunteer. You can also see requests from a specific cemetery, other locations, or from a particular Find a Grave member. On the Photo Requests page you’ll also see a tab for requests you have claimed and requests you have made.

We are excited for this change and hope it will be a real help for those who give so generously of their time and help make Find a Grave the wonderful collaborative community that it is. Give it a try and send us your feedback to let us know what you think and how we can make it better.


  1. I am a volunteer to help anyone looking for graves near Hampton, VA. Including at St John’s church, one of the oldest graveyards in the Nation.

  2. Looks good, except that the list of cemeteries in my account is in a little box that only shows four at a time. I’m sure some volunteers will have many more. If I just add all the cemeteries in my county, that would be over 170. This list needs to be a page, not a box.

  3. Good changes and options. Suggestion: link the Find a Grave memorials to the photo request so when a grave labeled photo is added it triggers a notice to the requestor and deletes the request. Far less cumbersome than the present method of claiming a photo request, then adding the photo.Thanks to all your web staffers and all the volunteers out there.

    • When you add a photo to a memorial with an open photo request, you should see a message that tells you there is an open request and asks if your photo will fulfill the request. Are you not seeing that message? If you aren’t, please send a message to and let us know what memorial you are working with and what you see when you click the “Add photo” button. Thanks!

  4. One of the local cemeteries that I chose no longer wants people to come to take photos of grave sites. It has been a problems locating the deceased’s site. It is also very time-consuming for the management to locate a person’s site. For that reason, I have stopped taking pictures.
    Sorry. I kind of enjoyed it.

    • Sorry to hear that! I certainly hope you locate another local cemetery to continue to volunteer your time, as it really is such a valuable asset to everyone who utilizes the site. Best wishes at your future photography!

      We have one local cemetery in my area that has one person who does not like Find a grave volunteers on their property. Thankfully, the other cemeteries in our county are very happy and welcoming to our tasks and volunteer time. They even have signs on their property encouraging people to use the FaG site. I’m very grateful to those cemeteries who welcome us as it recognizes our time as valuable. One day in the future, the cemeteries who chose not to have documentation done will be so far behind that no one will wish to volunteer the exorbitant time to get the work done… a shame for all involved.
      Teresa (aka Bella’s Mom)

    • Phil,
      Don’t stop. Try the local library in the genealogy section for cemetery books. Or a county or city historical room or center. Many have books for the Cemetaries that will help you find the listing for the person you are looking for, with a section and grave number. Sometimes if it is a very old cemetery with many sections, they can get you to the sections that had burials within the time frame you are looking for. and that may lead you to at least the area. The cemetery may not be helpful but the libraires and historical centers will help.

  5. Can I reset it to what it was? You have added cemeteries I have no idea where they are. But I don’t want to delete them all since some are in my area.

    • If we have an address of GPS coordinates for the cemetery, on the cemetery page, in the “About” section, you can click the “Get Directions” link to open a map and see where the cemetery is and how to get there.

  6. Thank you.
    Within the last month I’ve received over 500 requests for a cemetery that is nearly 50 miles away and I didn’t know how to stop receiving emails about requests for there.

    • I have the same problem…. I live in western Oklahoma and receive numerous requests for the Texas Panhandle. There must not be a volunteer in the area – but these requests are about 60 miles from where I live in Oklahoma… I always answer them to let them know that I can’t make it to fulfill their request; but they might contact the County Clerk of that county who might know of someone to help them…My list looks terribly long of those I have not claimed their request, but this is the reason. I try to get all of those in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma, which is where I live. Blessings, Judy Tracy

  7. I need to be removed from being a volunteer. There are three reasons. Last October I was in a bad wreck and did not walk for over four months. Then, before that there was another volunteer who did not follow the rules and claim photos and it became very confusing. Finally, for the last two months, now that I am recovering and walking again, it has been over 100 degrees every day for 40 days in a row with no rain for 67 days and I cannot go out in the heat. I apologize. I just have not fulfilled requests for a long time. Please do not send me any more requests.
    When I took pictures people loved them. But in some of the country cemeteries where I live there are a lot of graves with o index on how to find people and I would spend hours looking for graves.

    • Thanks for your help on the site, Terry. We’re sorry to hear about your accident and are glad that you are recovering. You can update your photo volunteer settings by signing in on the website. Select Account from the dropdown menu under your profile picture in the upper right corner. Then choose Photo Volunteer from the Account settings page and uncheck the box that says “I would like to be a photo volunteer.”

  8. This is OK but it would be more helpful to increase the limit on photo requests that can be claimed (currently 21). Requesters are no longer limited, so why not allow the “claimers” more opportunity?

    • I agree with Bill Bedaman. I take most of my photographs at Long Island National Cemetery. In over two years I have fulfilled over 5000 photo requests and added 12,000 photographs. Each visit to the cemetery I fulfill between 40 and 50 photo requests and it often happens that someone has taken a photograph and fulfilled the request the same day. It would be very helpful if the number of requests claimed could be increased from 21 to maybe 40. Thank you

  9. It seems as if you are making this a territorial thing and I am not going to play that game. My photo partner and I fill requests in four counties when possible and will continue to do so without the status of “official volunteer” for any particular cemetery.

    Also, claiming a photo is a notice to others that someone is working on the request. There is nothing as irritating as claiming a request, driving out to the cemetery, doing a photo and then trying to enter it only to find someone has already done that without claiming it first.

    I will continue to choose my photo locations from my favorites list without participating in this new scheme.

    • Hi, thanks for writing in and for your hard work and contributions to Find a Grave. We provided volunteer by cemetery so photo volunteers would have the option to receive photo requests for the cemeteries that they’d like instead of only cemeteries within a certain zip code area. Only the photo volunteer knows the cemeteries where they are photographing headstones and just as before anyone can volunteer at any cemetery. This option should provide flexibility for all photo volunteers.

  10. I really like this option, it allows me to select the cemeteries I go to. Thank you for this change

  11. I haven’t checked the changes out yet but just wanted to say that I will choose the new area i now live in but my husband and I travel all over Ontario and we love to stop and explore cemeteries along the way and I take lots of random pictures and look to see if there needed on find a grave. I love to help others build their family tree’s 🙂

  12. I like to travel to different areas and counties. I have visions of getting e-mails berating me for being in “their” cemetery. Some requesters will also assume you are familiar with the genealogy of those buried in that cemetery. Will not be participating in this program for this reason. Will continue to volunteer to take photos.

  13. PLEASE make it so that the custodian of a memorial can delete extraneous images (jpgs, etc.) or outdated/duplicate photos (often happens when memorials are merged).

  14. Thanks for these changes. Will it now include an email to the manager of the memorial when a photo has been placed on a memorial he/she manages? That would be so great as the manager would have an opportunity to update the memorial, checking it against the gravestone and even adding others who may be on the stone.

  15. I enjoy doing this for those who request it. I tried adding my dad, recently past and could not find the Isle Of Curacao in the update cemetery location! He is burrie at the protestant War cemetery in Curacao…and i cannot add him….

    I’m not sure this does any good just makes more work for me. remember its a volunteer position, i have someone that wanted to be aid to go search in the heat for hours. My question was…Why are the caribbean BES islands not on the search list of the ‘update cemetery site. Curacao nor south america are on that drop box I hope you can update that list pleaseThanx

    • Hi Christie, we’d love to help. In order to add a current location to the database, send an email to with the details. We’ll add it right away. We do have Willemstad, Curacao in our database. You can search for the cemetery here:
      It may already be listed and then you can add the memorial through the cemetery page by selecting Add a Memorial.

  16. This will be very helpful. I live on one side of a river and even though cemeteries on the other side are only a few miles away as the crow flies, it would take an hour of driving to get to them.

    The problems I encounter most in trying to take photos are:

    1. Cemetery is located on private land and is not accessible – this is often noted in the cemetery description, but requesters don’t look at that.

    2. The gravestone doesn’t exist – There should be a way to “fulfill” the request that will put a notice on the memorial so that future requesters can see that someone, and maybe multiple people, have already searched the cemetery and there is no marker to take a photo of?

  17. I will certainly continue to do what I can to help searchers locate their loved one’s burial sites.

  18. Thank you for the update on this subject. I want to suggest that findagrave/Ancestry aid in conflicting information on certain memorials. Say. use ancestry as a fact checker when a memorial owner refuses information from a family member that should be allowed to acquire a family memorial. Please email me back on this matter. my previous findagrave request for assistance got no reply.

  19. I’d like them to go back to limiting the number of requests that can be made daily. Over the weekend I received nearly two hundred emails with photo requests from the same person. I love helping people out but having someone simply pull up a cemetery and start clicking on photo requests for every memorial takes a bit of the joy out of it.

  20. I was taking photos at the Sacramento Old City Cemetery for awhile, but then some city department took over operations there and closed the office up, where volunteers worked helping people find graves. The cemetery is poorly marked and you really need someone in the office to put an X on the map to show where a grave is! Even then I had difficulty finding the location. Almost all the Find A Grave volunteers who took photo requests for this cemetery stopped doing it. As a result, there are hundreds of requests left undone, sadly.

  21. It seems like a worthwhile update to me. Like anything new, I will take my time and explore a while before passing final judgement, but anything that makes it easier to use or to find information or to post updates, edits, etc is a definite step in the right direction.

    I have a good map of the particular cemetery of my greatest interest, and I have had a good bit of luck finding some of the graves reported as “problem”. Like others, I am somewhat “mobility-limited”, too. And the heat of summer is sometimes a bit oppressive. But, if I were able to access those which have had a problem reported available to me, I could make a day of “investigate, return and report”

    As for other graves with no reported location, I follow the photo requests closely and if there is no grave location noted, I try, from the records available to me, to establish a location and note it to the original poster, that they may modify their request for the benefit of the photographer, narrowing his/her search considerably.

    One addition which might be of some use is that if it were possible to have a note on the memorial page of “NO MARKER”, but with a photo of the grave-site, there might ber fewer unfulfilled requests for marker photos.

    Oh yeah! One more thing – in signing in to this blog, User should be able to post under “Username” or “Legal name” with the option belonging to the poster. You may choose to require one or both, they ARE linked in the profile in you software.

  22. Sounds fine to me. I live in historic Southport, NC, a tiny town but full of fascinating cemeteries going back to the civil war. I love being a Find A Grave photo volunteer, in fact I just fulfilled a request today!

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