Respect and Devotion, Novodevichy Cemetery, Russia

Tiny niche's holding plaques and flowers in the grounds of Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, Russia.

One of numerous photography projects I've worked on explores notions of devotion through commemoration and memorial. Centred around cemeteries and public memorials the body of work includes photography from South America, Europe and Australia. As a taste of this project I'm happy to present the above photo made at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, Russia.

I very much enjoyed wandering around this well tendered cemetery. A popular site on the Moscow tourist trail, many visitors come to view the graves of former political leaders, artists, musicians, scientists and other notable public figures. It's interesting to see how some of these people are represented in death by their countrymen. In some cases the graves are not all that flattering and, arguably, not terribly respectful.

The above image features a detail from a long wall of smaller memorials. They presented a quieter more personal experience and were an interesting contrast to some of the larger and more extravagant graves on display.

The cemetery is situated right next door to the Novodevichy Convent, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which, after being given inaccurate information, I arrived at too late to enter. Next time. Since the fall of the Soviet Union the Novodevichy Cemetery is used only for the most symbolically significant burials. President Boris Yeltsin is one such figure to have been buried there over recent times.

Of course I was very respectful photographing the graves, always from appropriate places and never in a way that would prevent the progress of the many other people visiting the site.

I always stood to one side and allowed the numerous tour groups to do their thing before I set up to make any photographs. The staff on duty seemed to appreciate my approach and allowed me to continue, despite the fact I was working with a tripod.

You see its one thing to have a good camera but, from the point of view of many officials, a tripod identifies you as either a professional stills photographer or a videographer. And they can become very suspicious if they think you fit into either of those camps.

If ever you get to Moscow you might well enjoy a wander around the Novodevichy Cemetery. I did and am glad to have added a number of images from my visit into my eBook, Photographing Cemeteries.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru