Hello, I’m John Thomas Grant, and I photograph cemeteries. Perhaps not in the usual genealogical or architectural fashion familiar to most, nor in the fashion of other cem/art photographers, but in the only way I know how – truly intimate moments in life and death.
My best guess is that this recent interest in cemeteries originated from the years of collecting antique letter documents and letter lots from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Anyway, for many years prior, I collected handwritten letters passed down through the ages by family members that would then neatly place these short stories in the caring hands of, for the most part, antique dealers, from whom I would then purchase them. I would read each and every one. I would picture myself looking over their shoulder as they wrote personal passages to loved ones. I tried to imagine the feel of life in their time. My senses reached for the smells, the sights, and the decorative textures of the place they called home, from which many were written. Many others were penned, or penciled in some cases, in a hotel, or college dorm, while visiting a friend, or from a battlefront, and still I tried to imagine myself beside them as they wrote from the heart.
Sometime later, genealogy came to my attention, and into my life. I began the journey in search of my family roots. Naturally, as I was about to find out, this new avocation brought me in touch with cemeteries. Once the living told me everything I wanted to know, it would be the dearly departed that would next be the easy subject of my intense interrogation. So, with pencil, paper, and camera in hand I marched off to the cemetery.
Back in the day, my family would go to the cemetery in Flushing, New York, every Sunday; drop a few flowers on the old folks, say a few prayers, and off we went to the relatives for dinner. Cemeteries weren’t important to them, they were not important to me……….until now.
I would continue here, but the rest you will have to wait for. I cover the balance of the story in the introduction of my book “Final Thoughts” due out in the fall of this year, published by Schiffer Publishing, my sincerest apologies. “FT” will be a coffee-table styled book of my cemetery photography synthesized with epitaphs. I was further honored when Doug Keister accepted my request to write the Forward.
Suffice it to say, I love these places and will do everything in my creative power to preserve them and the stories they tell.
Currently, I’m partnered with the Victoriana Lady – Lisa Griffiths-Lewis – creatively and in life, in the Passion Projects, our little company dedicated to publishing, marketing and promotion, photography, organizers & presenters of Tea events, and whatever else we can get ourselves into. The Victoriana Lady Lisa is a living history speaker and reenactor of Victorian history, fashions and etiquette. She, too, has a book in production with Schiffer due out in 2012.
My thanks go to those at the Association of GraveYard Rabbits, for permitting me the opportunity of presenting myself to all its members. It’s been long in coming, but finally realized.