On October 30th, we will welcome Doug Keister to Noble Chapel as a part of our lecture series. He will be holding an Outdoor Photo Seminar Workshop from 3:30 to 5:45 PM. The group will meet initially at Cypress Lawn’s Reception Room. Doug is the author of numerous photography books, including Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism & Iconography. The Workshop will be followed by a lecture on cemetery symbolism from 6:00 to 6:30 PM at Noble Chapel and then a tour of the east grounds of Cypress Lawn Memorial Park.
Recently, our President and CEO Ken Varner had the opportunity to talk with Doug:
Ken: You’ve written six books on cemeteries. What drew you to that topic?
Doug: I got my start as a photographer and co-author of books on historic architecture. Eventually, I looked at funerary architecture as a subject, then drifted into the broad subject of cemeteries and funerary symbolism. I have always loved history and sleuthing out the backstory.
Ken: A lot of people view cemeteries as spooky or macabre. Do you view them that way? Why or why not?
Doug: Not at all. I see cemeteries as vast repositories of unspoiled and unmodified architecture and art. They are also great places to study symbolism and history. Additionally, they are an oasis of nature, serenity, and contemplation in our hyper-accelerated and stressful lives. Rather than focusing on death I see cemeteries as focusing on how precious life is.
Ken: Of all the research you’ve done on cemetery symbolism and iconography, which example stayed with you the most?
Doug: The gravestone of a Freemason that graces the cover of my book Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, is a treasure trove of symbolism.
Ken: What led to your involvement with Cypress Lawn?
Doug: When I photographed and wrote my first cemetery book, Going Out in Style: The Architecture of Eternity, in 1997, I was steered to you, Ken, and Cypress Lawn. You greeted me with great enthusiasm and literally opened the doors and gates to Cypress Lawn. You and the people of Cypress Lawn have been a tremendous proponent of my ongoing work since the day we became acquainted.
Ken: And we are so glad to have met you! What can people expect from the Outdoor Photo Seminar Workshop at Cypress Lawn on October 30th?
Doug: Cemeteries are great places to photograph, since they are very clean and pure environments. In other words, what is there is supposed to be there, with very little conflicting visuals. I will show participants how to use lighting and composition to highlight their subject and tell a story. The challenge of photography is to convey to the viewer what the photographer “sees” in their mind and heart.
For more information about the October 30th event, download our lecture schedule or call 650-550-8811.