Meet Your Photographer-Patsy Paterson

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So you can get to know the people who bring you cemetery pictures we are going to have a new feature called meet your photographer.

Today’s photographer-Patsy Paterson

What made you start photographing cemeteries? I started visiting  cemeteries with my mom and grandmother when I was growing up. After starting research on mine and my husband’s family, I remembered those trips and thought I would like to have photos of those tombstones and see if they were still there because some were in very small cemeteries. Then I started taking photos of the stones around the family tombstones and wondering if they were relatives or if they were neighbors. At first I didn’t take photos of the whole cemetery but now try to do so whenever possible. Now this has morphed into me taking pictures of cemeteries where I don’t have any relatives buried that I know of. This happens on vacation, when I’m visiting or when someone sends me an email and asks can I take a photo of a tombstone that is in our county or close. I love photography and that seems to mesh with genealogy very well.

How many cemeteries have you photographed? I really don’t know how many cemeteries but I have about 12,000 photos that I have put on FindAGrave. All of the ones from Rutherford County are also on the Rutherford County blog. 

What kind of camera do you use when you photograph cemeteries? I use a Canon 12 pixel Digital SLR.

What do you take with you when you photograph cemeteries? I have a bag that I take. Sometimes I need nothing out of the bag except my camera. However, sometimes there are challenges. I have some grass clippers, a  clipboard with the cemeteries I want to visit that day, some sidewalk chalk that I use if I absolutely have to and then a squirt bottle of water to wash the chalk off afterwards. Not in the bag but with me is my GPS to take me places that I have never been before.  Oh, yeah and some bug spray…

Do you take anyone or anything (like a dog) with you when you photograph cemeteries? I take my husband or rather my husband takes me. He takes no  photographs but helps with branches, grass, and keeping critters away. I couldn’t do it without him.  And neither could we here at Rutherford County, TN cemeteries. Thanks Archie!

Do you have any advice for someone who’d like to make this their hobby?

Take someone with you or let someone know where you are. That’s good advice for any hobby. Next is to buy the best digital camera you can so you won’t have to spend too much time fixing the contrast, etc. later.  Then, to take all the photos you can at the cemetery you are visiting. I  have made several trips back to a cemetery for photos that I didn’t take. Also take a picture of the cemetery itself so you can tell what it looked like on a certain date.

If you like Patsy’s work, be sure and send her a thank you at

If you’d like to be one of our photographers and get a special mention here, email me at  There’s always openings!



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