Photographing Gravestones - Guidesheet

Most Important
Be careful around the stones, they may be unstable, and you may get injured.
Be prepared. Make sure you’ve got somewhere to note down the stone(s) you have photographed, the date and the weather.

Please do not cut/clip any foliage that may be obscuring the stone, or dig up the ground if the stone is sunken, or try to clean the stone to make the inscription more visible.  This survey will do no harm at all to the stones and the environment.  If the stone is obscured in any way, make a note and let the project lead know.

Vertical markers are best photographed by kneeling to face the stone. Flat markers are best photographed from above.

Photographs of gravestones are best made when the sunlight falls across the face of the stone at an angle. Avoid getting your own shadow or reflection in the photo.

Lighting can be an issue.  If the light does not allow for successful photography, there are a couple of options.  A torch can be used to create “raking light”, which can make the inscriptions stand out.  A mirror or a piece of cardboard wrapped in foil can also help direct the sunlight to enhance the inscriptions.  As a last resort, pure clean water can be spritzed onto the stone and left to dry.  The inscription may improve during the drying process.  Or – try another day!

We would like to capture a number of views of the stones.

A context shot.  Frame the gravestone to include the entire marker and a little of the surrounding area for perspective.

A tighter shot.  Close up of the whole stone.

Inscription. Try to take an image with the text as legible as possible.  If one image will not suffice, take images of sections.

Footstone.  Don’t forget the footstone (if there is one)!

If the stone has inscriptions/details on more than one side (especially for box tombs), then repeat for each side.

Close-up images of any interesting detail such as imagery would also be very useful.

If you have a digital camera, then snap away – all contributions are gratefully received! 

Please send all images (in any format, but the higher resolution the better) to:

Don’t forget to include the location number of the stone, your name (so we can credit you with the photographs) and any other information you have recorded.

Lastly – thank you very much for giving up your valuable time to help with this project.