Bonaventure Cemetery

by Kaylah Stroup
Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia, cemetery

One of my all time favorite headstones. I took a photo of it back in 2014 and made sure to hunt it down again on this most recent trip.

Back in November Jeff and I took a quick weekend trip down to Savannah, Georgia. It was my second visit down there and since my first I had grown immensely in my photography. Needless to say, I was excited to shoot some photos. The number one spot I wanted to shoot was Bonaventure Cemetery. Bonaventure is one of those places that is sooo incredibly beautiful that it’s a tourist destination even for… well, normal people? Ya know, normal people who don’t specifically hunt down cemeteries in each city they visit. IT. IS. GORGEOUS.

When we arrived we were greeted by an employee at the gates. In my mind she was about to tell us we weren’t allowed to go in for whatever reason. Instead she asked if we needed any help, warned us Bonaventure wasn’t in tip top shape, and handed us a map.

A month prior to our visit, Hurricane Matthew had ripped through and caused quite a bit of damage to the cemetery. A lot of trees came down, damaging the headstones below. Bonaventure was closed for a few weeks to clean up some of the damage but opened shortly before our visit. Which I’m really happy about. I would have been SO disappointed if we went all the way down to Georgia and didn’t get to go to one of my favorite cemeteries! Large sections of the property were taped off but it didn’t really hinder our visit at all. One would think in the condition it was in that the number of visitors would be low but I don’t think I’ve ever been in a cemetery with so many other people (other than in Granary Burying Ground, of course!) For a place with over 30,000 interments it sure is lively!

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia, cemeteryBonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia, cemetery

I enjoyed our visit to Bonaventure enormously. Seriously every other sentence out of my mouth was “Oh my god, this is amazing!” or “Look! So cool!” Despite how much I enjoyed being there I was not happy with my photos, even as I was taking them. The warm sunshine was felt so good but I’m not huge on shooting photos in bright sunlight. That intense light paired with the enormous trees, and draping spanish moss meant there were a lot of shadows. You don’t have to know much about photography to gather that really bright patches of light and really dark areas don’t exactly make the best photos. I was bummed because I had been so excited to finally shoot the cemetery properly. For two whole years I had been dreaming of going back!

When I got home, imported my photos, and started to sort them I wasn’t surprised when they weren’t awe inspiring. I put them in a folder and moved on. Oh well, at least I got to enjoy the cemetery again! Fast forward to last week, I’m in the middle of organizing all the folders on my computer when I rediscover all my photos from Bonaventure. I found one I liked, edited it. Niiiice. Found a second, edited it. Okaaay, I can dig it. Found another, same thing. After about twenty minutes I had a whole bunch of photos that I couldn’t understand why I didn’t like them the first time around. I’m so glad I didn’t just delete them!

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia, cemeteryspanish moss, savannah cemeteries, georgia

Until next time, Bonaventure! I’ll be back in another few years to photograph you properly.

PS. If you end up visiting Bonaventure some time soon, they have a cemetery tour app! It isn’t free but the proceeds help maintain the cemetery which is pretty rad, and after the storm they could probably use all the help they can get!

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