After visiting Kingston Cemetery & Crematorium last week I went back there today to take my first set of photos for the Cruel and Tender Assignment.
I felt very welcome and was blessed with the most gorgeous golden light so I decided to start by walking around the grounds, getting to know the area, finding the right angles, direction of light, etc.
My reason for choosing to photograph Kingston Cemetery & Crematorium was based on the inevitable feeling of loss we all experience at some point in our lives. That, in my view, represents the ‘Cruel’ part of my assignment.
While spending some time talking to the staff there and getting to know what goes on behind the scenes, I learned that their role is much greater than just that of carrying on with the tasks involving the actual cremation or indeed grave digging.
Their role involves the utmost respect for the grieving families, sure the chapel needs to be pristine for each service, the flowers carefully positioned, the right music ready to play BUT what struck me the most was the incredibly composed way in which the staff conducts themselves in the face of the pain of those saying their final goodbyes. This, in my view, is what cover the ‘Tender’ part of my assignment.
The tenderness and kindness needed to handle such raw emotions was evident all around me. Talking to a member of staff I learned of the trust and understanding that is built over time between them and the relatives who come to visit KCC.
From a more technical point of view, visiting KCC shortly after sunrise (8:30ish in the morning) gave the an amazing opportunity to capture some rather atmospheric shots with the grounds bathed in a mixture of golden light, frost and lifting mist. The location was full of beautiful shadows evoking a sense of peace, sad, eerie beauty.
To photograph inside the chapel, I started by using my faithful 10-18mm wide angle lens but I felt that my 24-105mm lens gave me the advantage of larger aperture, reduced noise and allowed for more clarity. That said, I would have benefited from taking the shots with a tripod and the reason for not using it was that this was my first visit to the chapel and I had no idea of what to expect.
By the end of my visit I was pleased to have chosen this location and am very much looking forward to going back for my next set of photographs. This time I want to visit at the end of the day so I can shoot the light from a different direction.