Saturday, 10 March 2012

Pamela Williams: Cemetery Sculpture Photographer

"GLIMPSE is a photo of a statue of an 1880's woman visiting
her husbands' death bed. She grasps his hand & lifts up the
shroud covering him - to see if he is really dead!
This image is in the "IN THE MIDST OF ANGELS" book."
-Pamela Williams

Almost a decade has passed since I was first introduced to the works of Pamela Williams through her exhibit "Last Kiss". Reading about her photography in the local newspaper I was compelled to venture to the Woodstock Art Gallery but no article could have prepared me for how eloquently animated her photographs are.

Pamela Williams is a Canadian photographer who has traveled worldwide to capture cemetery sculpture from the Victorian Era. Her photographs have graced the covers of books including Timothy Finley's "Dust to Dust" and Margaret Laurence's "Stone Angel". Exhibits of her work have been shown across North America and in Italy. Recently I had the opportunity to interview Pamela.

When did you become interested in cemetery sculpture and what made you decide to start photographing them?

I was going to Paris to photograph Public Sculpture. A friend gave me "Permanent Parisians" ( a who is who in Paris cemeteries). Once I saw the sculpture in the cemeteries, I was hooked!

Are there guidelines you should follow while shooting sculptural photography?

It depends what you are trying to do. I am trying to make portraits, that is my approach. Other people may be doing documentary photography. So, it depends on your goal.

Your work has been exhibited across North America and in Italy, what do you enjoy the most about doing these exhibits?

I enjoy meeting people at the shows & selling my photos & 3 books to clients & fans, as well as receiving a rental /exhibit fee for showing my work. This is how I make a living.

Photographing in cemeteries can attract many curious onlookers, could you share with my readers a memorable experience you've had with the public while cemetery exploring?

Usually I meet other photographers, who show me their photos. Occasionally an irate mourner will shake their head & wave a finger at me in scorn, not understanding my motive at all.

You have traveled around the world to photograph in cemeteries, What characteristics do you look for when choosing locations to shoot?

I look for good statues. These are generally in large European centres, places where wealthy people lived in the 1880's ( the period I photograph).

Besides camera equipment, what other supplies are a must when shooting on location?

One needs water, food, a notebook, patience & lots of energy as there is much walking involved.

Out of all the cemeteries you have visited which one would you most recommend to my readers and why?

I enjoy Montparnasse in Paris. It is pleasant & park-like. It has an old & new section. It has a piece by Brancusi, as well as a couple in a life-size bed!

What advice would you give to budding cemetery photographers?

Keep looking! There are lots of interesting pieces of history. There is fascinating text, type faces, design, images & enchanting locations, almost everywhere.

This concludes my interview with Pamela. Photographs and books of her work are available for purchase online at . She's also available to do lectures and photography workshops.  If ever given the chance to view one of her exhibits I highly recommend doing so.

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