A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

Photographing Past the Graveyard

Pushed aside even in death

Pushed aside even in death

On Saturday, I will be leading a Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk of Athens.  The event is the largest social gathering of photographers around the world.  During the two-hour walk, people are encouraged to photograph their own communities and seize an opportunity to observe the places where they live at a much slower pace.  It’s a chance to really see their cities and towns in a less hurried way and hopefully make some interesting photographs at the same time.  The best group photos will be uploaded to the international website for possible inclusion into a book which will commemorate the day – a sort of “Day in the Life” book.  Over 1200 groups  have been created around the world with over 25000 participants already signed up.  There is still time to sign up for the Athens walk I’ll be leading.  Just go to http://worldwidephotowalk.com/walk/athens-al-united-states/ to sign up.  It’s free and you do not have to be an expert shooter.  Anyone with a point-and-shoot camera or even an iPhone qualifies.  You just need to be interested in getting to know Athens a bit better.



An 1836 headstone of an Irish immigrant

In preparation for my walk,  I am required to map out the course.  The rules state that it should be long enough to include several places of interest, but not so long that it cannot easily be completed in the designated two-hour limit.  I had a pretty good general idea where I wanted the course to go in order that some of the town’s more photogenic spots would come into play.  As a photographer myself, I know what like-minded shutterbugs are after.  I knew I’d have to include the park with duck pond, the restored Shell station, the old historic homes on Beaty and Clinton Streets and maybe the Donnell House and Confederate cabin.  I also knew I would have to make sure the course went past the Athens State University campus since this is the same weekend they host their annual fiddler’s convention.  Lots of opportunities there for sure.  In fact, some photo walkers may find the pickings there so juicy that they spend their entire allotted time in the company of some of the best fiddle, guitar and banjo players in the country.  That’s fine as long as they get to the rendezvous spot on time so we can have lunch and compare images.


Old Town Cemetery

Old Town Cemetery

One place that I had not intended to highlight on the course map was the old cemetery.  Truthfully, I had no idea that it existed, or if I did, it didn’t really register as a viable candidate as a photographic subject.  I’d probably seen it a few dozen times, but from my normal driver’s seat perspective, I just never gave it a second thought.  I should have.  It’s a very real example of the reason for this entire endeavor.  A gem that I had almost overlooked until I slowed down enough to see it.  The historic marker in front of the Old Town Cemetery states that it is the oldest cemetery in Athens.  With headstones etched with dates stretching back to the 1820’s, I had to concede that their claim was probably accurate.  Though many of the headstones are sunken or have been destroyed, many still remain.  Confederate flags fly besides several headstones.  Time, nature and the elements have taken a toll on this small graveyard, but it’s obvious that an earnest effort has been made to maintain the site throughout the decades.



A brother’s act of generosity

The street marker also states the there was once a school on the property and that the entire block was originally purchased in 1827 for ten dollars from Robert Beaty and John Carriel.  As the town’s first cemetery, it obviously is the final resting place for many of the city’s first residents.  Most of the engravings are too worn and faint to read, but several are still legible including one I found interesting  (above) where the stone carver had to get creative in order to fit the deceased’s middle name.  I also like the lengths his brother went to, to ensure that his generosity would not go unnoticed.  Despite the light rain falling, I spent almost an hour at this little cemetery.  A much larger and newer cemetery lies just east of this one, but it just did not offer the photographic opportunities this one does.  So, the Old Town Cemetery is definitely now prominently highlighted on my course map.  I just hope a few of Saturday’s participants will slow down enough to appreciate all it has to offer.

A Confederate flag marks this veteran.

A Confederate flag marks this veteran’s final resting place

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Alabama, Athens, Historic Alabama, Huntsville, Limestone County, Madison, Mooresville, Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment