Artisanal Marker


When I took that class last month at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, our instructor said we should “stay away” from making photos in cemeteries or churches. It struck me that he was pushing his personal preferences onto us. And it also struck me that even though he’s famous and I’m not, I get to make that decision for myself. (He also spoke of including “implied narratives” in our images, and I don’t know many places better than cemeteries to find such implied narratives. So what was he even talking about? I’m sure I don’t know.)

Anyway, I found this handmade cross, with a nice artisanal feel about it, in the hot and dry cemetery in Marathon, Texas.

Marathon, Texas
photographed 7.24.2016

Posted on August 9, 2016, in Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Rhonda Patterson

    You be YOU. I like your art and look forward to my daily dose of Melinda Green Harvey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m quite sure that this is a case of strong opinions loosely held… There’s nothing wrong of course with pictures in cemeteries and churches as you’ve nicely demonstrated again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To be honest, that’s one reason why I’ve stayed away (thus far) from workshops like that. I bought the camera, I’ll decide where to point it.


  4. You need to stay away from that, and stay away from people (I don’t care WHO they are) who tell you what is and is not appropriate to shoot, or tell you how to make an image for yourself. I am absolutely adamant about this subject. In fact, it makes me very, very angry. I shoot in cemeteries all the time. I do a lot of things that some “experts” frown on and you know what? I don’t care. I do what I want to do using my own sensibilities. Stop taking workshops and just do it on your own.


    • I’ve taken three workshops, and two of them were very good. They were more about technical aspects of shooting, and had a positive impact on my work (I think). Since I’m mostly self-taught and a late-comer to the photographic game, I needed that sort of help.

      I guess the positive thing about the last workshop is that it helped me solidify my own sensibilities. And when someone tells me I “can’t” do something, there’s a really good chance I’ll go out of my way to do it. So, I still go to cemeteries. They are one of my favorite places to shoot. And I really don’t care what the Famous Photographer thinks about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have nothing against people teaching technical skills so that the student can then make their own decisions on how they want to edit, but telling someone what and how to shoot is off-limits. Giving general suggestions like, look for the large, geometric design and shapes, how can you incorporate specific lighting to enhance your image, etc., is fine, but flat-out telling someone what they should and shouldn’t do instantly sets me ablaze. I’ll go out and shoot it just to show that it can be done in a sensitive and artistic way.


      • Yep. I’m with you on that.

        As I told another commenter, the day after the no-cemeteries-no-churches deal I brought an image to the daily critique that was of a chapel IN a cemetery. Because that’s the way I am.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s my girl!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with you on this…sure there are plenty of “obvious” church and cemetery shots, but that does not mean your should exclude them from your personal vision…seeing these places as nobody else can.


    • And you know what? We ALL have made the obvious shots. Even that instructor’s made his share. The thing is to learn how to move past them, how to go to a cemetery or an abandoned building (for two easy examples we can both understand!) and make shots that are OURS.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my, I was worried for you when I went on YouTube and watched that guy. I’m sure you gleaned something good though. I am self taught but have read and watched lots of photography pros teach. Most seem to be able to teach and not control. They may have different opinions on equipment such as fixed vs. zoom lenses . Seems like someone has got “too big for his britches “. It was good for you to explore and be challenged and be more sure of your style and purpose in the end. Good for us as well. Keep up the great work,keep up exploring, keep us begging for more! I now humbly step down from the pulpit.


    • Yeah, so that instructor and I didn’t really connect the way I’d hoped we would. Or at all, really.

      But it’s all part of the process, I guess. And I DID learn some things. For example, I come from the Never Ever Crop Your Photos Because That’s A Sure Sign That Your Original Composition Was Awful school of thought. And you know what? Since the class, I’ve been cropping ( for example) and haven’t been struck dead by the Photography Gods or anything like that.

      BEGGING for more? Really? That’s what’s going on here?!?


  7. Well gee…now I want to know who “that guy” is. Though I know you won’t say, which I understand. I even checked their website for the teachers. What was his point in saying stay away from cemeteries thought? Sacrilegious? Trite? Too common? Did he expand any more?


    • (I think you’ll find the answer to your question here:

      Honestly, I think it was his own personal sensibilities and nothing more. Instead of a blanket “don’t do THIS” maybe a discussion about ways to look in new ways at old subjects might have been in order. It was a master class – we could have handled some discussion.

      The class wasn’t what I had anticipated (for reasons other than what I’ve pointed out in this particular post), but even with that, I did learn some things that have changed the way I look at some things. And in a way, I get some kind of goofy satisfaction out of taking some of the things to the class with me when I shoot in cemeteries. Because I’m like that!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Very cool artisanal marker, and I like the look of moonlight you’ve achieved. Glad you’re sticking with cemeteries.


  9. Hi Melinda. I stopped reading the comments as I was getting annoyed that everyone was dwelling on the class instructor’s failings (whether merited or not) and that no one was telling you what an amazing photo this is. It has a beautiful composition with atmospheric lighting, lovely contrasting textures and is incredibly moving to boot! To think that someone in the midst of their grief set out to hand carve this memorial to their mother. There is something quite wonderful about the rough cut rock canvas and the way the crucifix and words have been composed across it. It is an incredibly beautiful and unique memorial. It has lasted 171 years as a testament to love and respect. Just amazing! I love it and the photo.


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