I've always loved cemeteries. I grew up in Southampton, a small rural town in Western Massachusetts. There was a cemetery down the street from me close to the center of town that had graves reaching back further than the founding of The United states. This graveyard in particular wasn't anything special but New England is littered with gorgeous ones, all with deep history. I loved spending time in them. I loved learning the names of the people and reading about who they were to other people. I find cemeteries to be so peaceful.
When I first moved to LA it felt like I never say any graveyards. Not long after I was introduced to LA's most famous one, The Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hollywood Forever is perhaps best known in LA for hosting weekly movie screenings in the summer and a variety of concerts at their Masonic Lodge. It's a cool graveyard and one I have photographed in before with the lovely Ann Strucke. But I would say that its got a bit of a thing going on. I'm a big fan of both locations for Forest Lawn Memorial which has hosted multiple shoots with me for Annie Motel, Minni Jo, and Annie Motel again. In fact, this week I was supposed to shoot in a really killer graveyard in LA that has two pyramid tombs. The shoot fell through due to emergency circumstances on the part of the model but all is well and we will shoot there at some point. Needless to say I am always on the lookout for a good cemetery.
In my opinion, the key to any location scouting in LA is to stay off the highways. Yes, the highways can certainly give you the elevated position to see things you may not have seen otherwise, but the attention that's demanded on the highway for safe driving does not lend itself well for scouting. The main problem though is that you will see something cool, have zero idea what the cross streets are, and there's no exit in sight. When I first began shooting street art I realized that surface roads are your friends and should be taken almost everywhere when you have the time to do so. Sometimes traffic forces your hands and you have to take surface roads or sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway. One such occasion occurred to me late last year when needing to travel from a mural in Culver City with Angelina Christina and Kevin Ledo up to Studio City in The Valley to work on a video collaboration with Angelina Prendergast. It's rare I would need to travel this path along the 405 (notoriously the worst highway in all of LA for traffic). As I traversed alongside the demon highway I was treated to not only one of the best cemeteries I had seen in all of LA but gorgeous light. When I finally got to a computer I looked up this glorious graveyard it turned out that this is a National Cemetery which primarily means veterans. I knew I would need to shoot here.
Within days I was planning a new shoot with an amazing Instagram connect named Melissa Eugene. The new age of recommendations has come in the form of "shoutouts" on social media and a model I follow gave Melissa her promotion and I was hooked. I was all about photographing her and let her know as such. When asking about locations I mentioned the National Cemetery and it couldn't have gone better. Melissa is a rad artist with a beautiful energy and great to be around. What I loved most about Melissa is that she fit right in to this location that I hold so dear. I love these photos and I'm so excited to present them to you.
Click the photo below to explore The National Cemetery with Melissa Eugene