Viejo San Juan Cemetery – Double Exposures

Viejo San Juan Cemetery – Double Exposures

This past weekend I had a photo-session scheduled for 8am in Viejo San Juan. There were several large events scheduled in the San Juan area that morning creating unbelievable traffic, I was already in the city early to scout the location for my portrait session so I missed the traffic, but the couple I was supposed to photograph got stuck in the middle of it. We decided to reschedule the photo session for sunset the following day. If found myself in San Juan with my camera and lenses on a bright sunny morning and decided to take a photo walk.

One of my favorite places to photograph is the Cemeterio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis. It is a beautiful cemetery nestled at the foot of El Morro with the caribbean sea as its back drop. To get there you go through a tunnel that is covered in graffiti. The whole place is so rich with metaphors, to me I don’t get a creepy sense being down there, things just feel peaceful. Last January I did a really interesting self portrait photography series there using my infrared camera. I love getting to revisit different locations. There are so many ways of photographing the same place. This time I did some experimenting with double exposures using the cemetery statuary as my models.

The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery is located in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is a great place to take photographs and has an amazing number of cemetery statues.
The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery is located in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is a great place to take photographs and has an amazing number of cemetery statues.
All over San Juan there are these 'garitas' or look out towers. The shape and texture of them is iconic to Viejo San Juan. I can just imagine in the past someone looking out through those tiny windows watching the horizon for sail ships coming in on the trade winds.
All over San Juan there are these ‘garitas’ or look out towers. The shape and texture of them is iconic to Viejo San Juan. I can just imagine in the past someone looking out through those tiny windows watching the horizon for sail ships coming in on the trade winds.
A view of the viejo san juan cemetery from afar.
This view of the cemetery is from the lawn in front of El Morro. There are so many different angles and vantage points to photograph this place from.
To get into the San Juan cemetery you need to first pass through a tunnel. The tunnel is covered in graffiti and always feels a little creepy to go through, even though during the day it is very safe. Going through the tunnel to reach the cemetery always makes me think of
To get into the San Juan cemetery you need to first pass through a tunnel. The tunnel is covered in graffiti and always feels a little creepy to go through, even though during the day it is very safe. Going through the tunnel to reach the cemetery always makes me think of crossing over into the after life.
The cemetery itself is named for the nun, sister Magdalena de Pazzi of Florence Italy who lived from 1566 - 1607. She is most remembered as a somewhat eccentric woman who was given to raptures and profound ecstasies through much of her life. When she first joined the sister hood she became very ill and professed intense revelations while in an altered state on what everyone though would be her death bed. She survived the illness and continued to have visions and reevaluations through out her life that her fellow sisters helped write in a series of five books. Her connection to the spirit world and her fiery personality make her a very fitting namesake for this cemetery on the caribbean sea.
The cemetery itself is named for the nun, sister Magdalena de Pazzi of Florence Italy who lived from 1566 – 1607. She is most remembered as a somewhat eccentric woman who was given to raptures and profound ecstasies through much of her life. When she first joined the sisterhood she became very ill and professed intense revelations while in an altered state on what everyone though would be her death bed. She survived the illness and continued to have visions and revelations through out her life that her fellow sisters transcribed in a series of five books. Her connection to the spirit world and her fiery personality make her a very fitting namesake for this cemetery on the caribbean sea.
The variety of tombstones, cemetery art and statuary in this cemetery is breathtaking. Many common symbols are angels, crosses and figures of Jesus Christ or the Mother Mary looking over the tombs. In addition to these symbols there are also many mourning women and angels. One of the tombs even has statues of the surviving family members mourning around the outside of a casket. Some of the headstones are in better condition than others. The cemetery is maintained to an extent and family members still come to place silk flowers on the graves. A portion of the cemetery is currently under construction.
The variety of tombstones, cemetery art and statuary in this cemetery is breathtaking. Many common symbols are angels, crosses and figures of Jesus Christ or the Mother Mary looking over the tombs. In addition to these symbols there are also many mourning women and angels. One of the tombs even has statues of the surviving family members mourning around the outside of a casket. Some of the headstones are in better condition than others. The cemetery is maintained to an extent and family members still come to place silk flowers on the graves. A portion of the cemetery is currently under construction.
This is my favorite statue in the cemetery. The posture of the woman is so beautiful and the emotion is so sorrowful. This statue was created by a very skilled sculptor and continues to endure the test of time. I have photographed this sculpture several times and look forward to seeing it in a new light every time I visit.
This is my favorite statue in the cemetery. The posture of the woman is so beautiful and the emotion is so sorrowful. This statue was created by a very skilled sculptor and continues to endure the test of time. I have photographed this sculpture several times and look forward to seeing it in a new light every time I visit.
This double exposure is of a tombstone and the view of the coastline from the western part of the cemetery. There is a community in Viejo San Juan called La Perla that you can see from the cemetery.
This double exposure is of a tombstone and the view of the coastline from the western part of the cemetery. There is a community in Viejo San Juan called La Perla that you can see from the cemetery.
One thing I love doing with double exposures is playing with the orientation of the images. The flipped city scape against this woman's face is an interesting perspective.
One thing I love doing with double exposures is playing with the orientation of the images. The flipped city scape against this woman’s face is an interesting perspective.

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