Grave Offerings

As I wander through cemeteries, I am always struck by the variety of offerings to the dead that I encounter. Sometimes they are simple: a flower; a photo; a favorite toy; bottles of soda or alcohol; a statuette… In other cases, they can be quite elaborate. I am most intrigued by those things left behind that imply an element of ritual, and I wonder if they are meant to appease a potentially restless spirit or an angry god/God. For one who believes the spirits of the dead are wandering around in the ether or that God demands appeasement rather than having a character of love, I suppose these gifts serve both a symbolic and a functional or practical purpose. I am intrigued by how they are often indicative of a broader culture or faith while simultaneously revealing the very individualized and personal ways we employ to cope with the death of a loved one.

"Grave Offerings" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/4.0 at 1/25 sec., 85mm

“Grave Offerings” Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/4.0 at 1/25 sec., 85mm
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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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Flagged as Abstract

Far more powerful than religion, far more powerful than money, or even land or violence, are symbols. Symbols are stories. Symbols are pictures, or items, or ideas that represent something else. Human beings attach such meaning and importance to symbols that they can inspire hope, stand in for gods, or convince someone that he or she is dying. These symbols are everywhere around you.
― Lia Habel, Dearly, Departed

I’ve long been fascinated by symbols. I recently looked down and found myself standing on a flag, though it wasn’t one I recognized. For an instant, I thought perhaps I should step back out of respect, but swiftly brushed that thought away: it was already on the ground and heavily trampled upon.

"Flag" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/1.8 at 1/4000 sec., 85 mm

“Flag” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/1.8 at 1/4000 sec., 85 mm


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I’m on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos captured and edited solely on my iPhone. I tend to post quite a few cat photos, so if you’re so inclined… #instagramcats