If your ancestors or forebears are buried in New York City and you need photographs of their gravesites I might be able to help. I am a Forensic Genealogist, which is a highfalutin term for Cemetery Photographer. I get photos for genealogists, tree-tracers, historians, etc. of burial sites at New York cemeteries including Old Calvary, New Calvary, St. Michael’s, Green-Wood, and others. I have been doing this off-and-on for many years, and have many happy customers.
There is a nominal fee for this service. The fee varies depending mostly on how far I have to travel. If charging a fee for this seems unreasonable then please consider the logistics. It takes anywhere from a half hour to an hour just to get to some cemeteries. I do not own a car but even if I did I don’t think the travel time would be significantly different. Finding the grave is not always as straightforward as you might expect. Between that and processing the photos, e-mailing, and whatever else arises a single job generally takes several hours. If you are far from the city then you can be sure my fee is far less than it would cost you to come to New York and get these photos yourself 🙂
HOW DOES THIS WORK?
The most important bit of information I would need to get started is the exact coördinates of a burial site. You should be able to get this information by simply calling the cemetery and providing them with the deceased’s name and date of death. The format of these coördinates varies but at 3rd Calvary, for example, the location of Annie Moore’s site reads like this: “Section 20, Range 3, Plot F, Grave 13.” Armed with that information I should be able to locate your ancestor’s gravesite.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Below is a set of photos showing Annie Moore’s burial site at 3rd Calvary. This set illustrates what quantity and quality of photos you can expect. (Ms. Moore was the first immigrant to be processed through Ellis Island, and she is probably the most famous burial at 3rd Calvary.)
I get photos of the marker from every angle — front, back, all sides — with close ups of notable funerary artwork such as angels, cherubs, or logos. I also photograph the marker from several feet back to give a sense of how it looks in the broader context of the cemetery. I also attempt to get a panoramic shot of the gravestone and its surroundings. This is not always possible in very tightly packed cemeteries.
If no marker is present and the grave is unmarked then I will demonstrate that I really made the trip by providing photos of the likely burial site along with surrounding markers and (if available) their location coördinates.
Similarly, if a gravestone is completely illegible I will make every effort to demonstrate that it is at the location you specified.
Many burial sites are unmarked so please be reasonably certain a marker exists before contacting me — unless, of course, you are interested in seeing the burial site anyway, even without the marker.
In addition to the photos I scout nearby burial sites on the offhand chance that a related family’s burial site might be nearby. It does not happen often but I have made unexpected connections for people by doing this.
If the burial site is an above ground mausoleum I will make reasonable effort to photograph the inside but this is not always possible given the structure of some mausolea’s windows and protective grates. Unless you give explicit written permission and are able to provide me with a key to the mausoleum I will not enter the structure under any circumstances, even if the door is unlocked, as this could constitute trespassing.
I request payment in full up front, via PayPal, or by check if you prefer. You can expect to get your photos within 7 days of payment received, but turnaround time varies depending mostly on the weather. I do not generally get gravesite photos in inclement weather, but if there is a particular urgency to your request then I will consider it. If for some reason I become unable to get the photos I will issue a full refund.
You are free to do as you please with the photos with no restrictions. If you use them on a web site or publish them in any media then I respectfully request a courtesy photo credit to “Mark A. Thomas”. and, if you publish them on a web site, please include a link to me at http://sorabji.com/