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Monday, 3 October 2011

Cemetery photography banned at Whitby

The Daily Fail reports this month that Goths attending that haven of all things ooky and spooky in the UK, Whitby Gothic Weekend, will in future be disappointed to learn that photographs on or near the gravestones in St Mary's iconic churchyard in Whitby are now forbidden. St Mary's is an exceptionally beautiful cemetery in a Goth-beloved setting, featured in Bram Stoker's infamous novel Dracula, and apparently some Whitby locals even fear that the photography ban could spell the end of Goth Weekend.

Certainly, being photographed looking brooding whilst leaning listlessly against a weathered tombstone is one of the most popular pasttimes for Goths attending the event. But I'm sure that many Goths will feel that the reasoning behind the ban is sound. Church officials say that those in Whitby who have families and ancestors resting in St Mary's graveyard have been offended by photos of darklings sitting, lying, or even standing on table stones.

Source
All right, I'm sure that in our younger and dafter days many of us were photographed draped all over assorted stones in our local cemeteries, but I think that most of us always have and will continue to draw the line at placing our booted feet all over the resting places of the dead. Surely we can all agree that that is disrespectful. And frankly, we Goths are overall a pleasant and affable lot, and would, I'm sure, be alarmed and upset to learn that behaviour in the cemetery had offended others. A small minority aside (probably the same minority who trample all over table stones), I'm sure that the ban will be respected and upheld by the spooky community.

But will it spell the end for Whitby? I highly doubt it. Whilst it has always been a bit of a tradition for many Goths attending Goth Weekend to have their photo taken in such a stunning, historic location, there are many other attractions for the black-clad throng such as shopping, dancing, socialising, climbing those famous steps at Whitby Abbey, and of course all the live band performances.

Plus, even with the ban in effect, many Goths, I'm sure, would still enjoy a pleasant walk amongst the gravestones. And the ban itself only specifies photography 'on or near' the stones, and I would have thought that photos with the cemetery in the background would be equally as good a momento and would be unlikely to offend any Whitby residents. Perhaps a simple ban on standing on the stones would make the point a little clearer for unruly darklings...

19 comments:

Toxic Tears said...

I think its ridiculous. Personally, if I decide to be buried, as long as people aren't breaking, vandalising, urinating, etc on my grave, they can feel free to stand, sit, lie or whatever next to it for a picture, I really would not mind. And that graveyard is so old I doubt many of these "families" even know the names of their buried relatives.

I don't feel that taking a picture next to a gravestone is offensive. I recently did a shoot in a very old graveyard, but just to be safe I photoshopped out any names and writing on the newer graves out of respect.

Not only that, but the graveyard is one of the town's biggest tourist attractions, placing this ban is going to end up losing the town money.

Quite frankly if it were my grave, I would enjoy the company of a flock of wonderfully dressed individuals.;)

(Most of the previously mentioned photoshoot pictures can be found at www.xToxicTears.tumblr.com/tagged/me or www.vampirefreaks.com/xX-ToXiC-x-TeArS-Xx . They were taken at the old Priory Graveyard in Holywood, Northern Ireland)

Nightwind said...

All I can say is, I totally agree with Toxic Tear's comments. While I don't live in the U.K., I am the caretaker of a couple of historic cemeteries here in the south/central U.S. Every year, photographers bring their clients up here for photo shoots; particularly in the autumn. The owners don't seem to mind a bit.

I suspect that the whole affair at Whitby is aimed at getting rid of the Goths. It's sad, really.

Anonymous said...

Is this just for the Goth weekend? Because I literally just went to Whitby last week and took some lovely photos there....and no one said anything. And to Nightwind, a lot of B&Bs, tours, etc rely on people flocking there for Dracula, etc things so I don't think they would want that.

Melanie~"Fangirl"~Light said...

*sighs*

Some people tend to get attached to anything left behind (items, ash, or graves) by a loved one. It's one thing to lay on a grave... it's another to take a grenade and throw it at one.

I do kinda see why there's a concern for some, but like Toxic Tears said, the ban seems silly. They might as well put a ban on putting a foot on a grave if they really hate it so much.

Marilyn Jay Freak said...

Honestly that is plain ridiculous, I agree with Toxic Tears. As long as people weren't messing with my grave, I wouldn't actually mind if people decided to come and take some pics. But if people are standing on the gravestones it could be a little disrespectful. I guess if they are trying to rid the U.K. of goths by banning photographs, they would also have to make sure we don't go to cemetaries and ban any form of black clothing and good music. It would completely dull and dreary. It would also make the world lose it's creativity... ok maybe that's exagerating a bit. Anyways I absolutely love your blog, and would be thankful if you checked mine out. www.thetomeofmjfreak.blogspot.com.

linnea-maria said...

Well I guess the relatives and the keeper of the churchyard beleives it's disrespectful to crawl or climb over someones grave, and I agree.

LucretiaLevi said...

I, as many of the others who commented before, wouldn´t mind either if some Goth sits / stands on my grave to take pictures. But I can understand that relatives may think they are disturbing the peace of the dead. Thats why, when I´m taking pictures at a graveyard, I just stand beside the graves and tombstones.

Julietslace said...

It's alright saying YOU'RE okay with it but you don't actually know whether the deceased would want you climbing all over their final resting place.

There will be a few who would shrug their shoulders but sadly we don't know what they want, so we should play it safe and stay off their graves. Besides certain families have made it quite clear they don't want that.

Personally I think taking photos is perfectly fine, I think they've banned it completely to make sure nobody would over step the mark. It's shame and they should give us more credit but hey ho.

It definitely won't spell the end for the special weekend, we don't just go there to take pictures in a graveyard after all!

Also, gravestones cost a lot of money to buy and repair so please be careful wherever you are.

Anonymous said...

I was that anon above, and by lovely photos I don't mean climbing on the graves, I took one much like the picture in this post, a view sort of thing, and some of that new barn conversion thing. And some ducks that had snuck up there ahahaha.

Nightwind said...

Yes, it would seem counter-productive to discourage photography in Whitby's cemetery when the Gothic community contributes so much to the local economy

Xanthy said...

I don't think they're trying to get rid of the goth festival... A lot of the shops there are alt. shops, and as anon above pointed out, Bram Stoker's Dracula is quite important for them (tourists, and then some more tourists...).

This is really all about respect for the people buried there. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be very happy if someone were standing on my grandfather's grave, but the graves aren't even that recent over there (and a lot of them don't even have names on them anymore)...

Black Rose said...

I agree, it's about respect. But those attending the Goth weekend [/envy] will let us know if the ban is enforced or not.

LovleAnjel said...

The banning of all photography near the graves is a bit dramatic, but I can understand why families were upset. If I went to visit my great-grandfather's grave and a bunch of people were sitting or standing on the stone, well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty. Stones are expensive and can be damaged by people playing around on them. It's a basic level of respect.

Toxic Tears said...

^ I agree with that statement for newer graves, but to my understanding the ones at whitby are REALLY old, and as mentioned above many don't even have names, and I very much doubt anyone visists them anymore, so they shouldn't really complain that someone is taking pictures next to them.

And at the end of the day, the dead are no longer here. They're either gone for good, in heaven, or whatever point of view you have on death, and no longer have use for their mortal shell or the stone that marks it.

x-akurei said...

Whilst I myself have a few photos taken in the graveyard, I have no objection to this whatsoever. I get incrediably fed up with seeing people clambering all over headstones and the like, just for the sake of their vanity. It's sickening, actually. It doesn't matter how old they are, or whether people still visit them, they should still be respected. An overall ban on photographs in the graveyard is, of course, the most simplistic way of trying to stop it from happening.

Anonymous said...

This is the viewpoint of a Whitby regular here. While I believe that the decision to ban photography in the graveyard altogether is a bit heavy-handed, I can completely understand why it was made.

The problem isn't the goths (most of them anyway, you still get a few bad eggs but thankfully they seem to be few and far between), but more so the masses of photographers who flock to the event to accost the goths. I've been going since 2005 and since then there has been a gradual increase in photography clubs who bring along their own "models" and tourists with no understanding of the subculture who come along in fancy dress specifically to pose for the 'togs. 90% of the time, when you see someone posing on top of the graves, it is them. St Mary's has pretty much become the unofficial place to have your photo taken in Whitby.

There is no way that it spells the end for WGW since St Mary's is only a small part of the town and there is so much more to see and do in Whitby, but it is an issue that does need to be adressed. More so for the preservation of the stones than anything, graves are an important part of local history and it worries me that the ephitaphs may be worn off more by the people leaning and lying on them. They're made of sandstone which erodes pretty quickly as far as I understand, especially when you add the winds coming off the north sea into the mix.

LovleAnjel said...

I have a strong disagreement with "there's no names, no one knows who they are, no one visits anyway". So what? That is still someone's resting place. Dead or not, known or not, the place deserves respect.

It's that kind of logic that made it easy for people to destroy and disrupt aboriginal & native gravesites, and for Europeans to import Egyptian mummies and grind them up into powder and paper. That's shameful.

Toxic Tears said...

"It's that kind of logic that made it easy for people to destroy and disrupt aboriginal & native gravesites, and for Europeans to import Egyptian mummies and grind them up into powder and paper. That's shameful."

Er no. I'm not saying its ok to disrespect them because there are no names, I'm saying I don't think taking a picture beside one is a problem. Climbing on top of them and breaking them etc would be an entirely different matter, a problem easily accomplished by a simple "Do not climb on the graves" sign.

Of course I wasn't suggesting its ok to break and harm them because no one knows who they are, that would be stupid.T_T

On a totally unrelated note, my word verifcation for this is "noming" x3 <3

Nox Artemis said...

I heard of this. Just in general, I think banning photography in cemeteries is kind of stupid, since the whole point of erecting large - and VERY expensive - monuments is to showcase to the living, "Haha. I can out-best you from beyond the grave." I know of some very famous and renowned cemeteries that employ this, and then I think, "man, what douchebags." Then again, it is pretty easy to get away with a few snap shots in such a large cemetery, unless the staff enforce the ban like the SS. Not that I'm saying that you should break the rules. *ahem!* ¬¬

However, I read another article on this, and from that point of view, I do agree with why they're doing it. Taking tasteful poses around grave markers and mausoleums is one thing, but lying all over them like it's your bed, half-naked and in sexually provocative poses is another (that's just what the source article that I found had read).

But I think the thing that they ought to have done was reiterate the rules. Like the rules at the nature parks that I work with and in, "leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures." Just don't touch the grave markers.

In the end, we all have different views on how we look at the dead, and I'm not particularly talking about monuments. Some of us might not care what happens to our remains after we are dead, but at the end of the day, the survivors have more say in the matter than passerby photographers.

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