Weekly Photo Challenge – (Final) Reward

“The final reward of the dead – to die no more.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

(7 Photos)



Last week I participated in an interesting photo shoot at Magnolia Cemetery here in Charleston with local AP professional Alice Keeney. I’ve chosen to highlight some of my thoughts and favorite captures of a day spent among those who have gone to their “final reward”.  Although some may find my response to Krista’s “Reward” challenge a bit somber, for the believers among us,  perhaps not.  As an aside, try as I might I could not find the origin of the phrase. Can anyone out there in the blogosphere lend a hand on that?



“Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”

Kurt Vonnegut

For a cemetery, Magnolia is remarkably full of life. There are magnificent old Live Oak trees throughout, as well as beautiful marsh views and lovely ponds and lagoons covered by charming bridges and paths. Birds are everywhere, including the two pictured above. We noted egrets, herons, seagulls, robins and several other species enjoying the beautiful sunny day – seemingly oblivious to the gravestones around them. The atmosphere was more like a bucolic walk through an inner city park than that of a cemetery. Magnolia is a well-known haunt (pun intended) for many of our area’s best photographers, some of whom were also visiting the same day.



“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

Albert Einstein

Founded in 1849 at the site of a former rice plantation along the banks of the Cooper River, the cemetery is teeming with history. It is the final resting place of over 2,000 Confederate soldiers and 7 of their generals. There are also numerous notables, including former governors, senators and mayors, as well as 14 known signers of the Declaration of Secession – a critical document in the evolution of the Civil War. Finally, it is the resting place for all of the crew members of the famous, ill-fated Hunley – the first submarine ever used in warfare which was found in Charleston Harbor and excavated in the year 2000. My favorite story of the excavation was the confirmation of an oft-told story of the crew’s captain, Lt. George Dixon. A $20 coin was supposedly given to him by his sweetheart and was said to have saved his life by stopping a Union bullet. After surviving for 150 years, the story was proven true when the coin was found on Dixon’s remains with the inscription “My Life Preserver”. How cool is that?!



“No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.”

Jim Morrison

Beyond its history, the cemetery is a masterpiece of architecture and landscaping. Several of the original buildings remain, including the plantation ‘s manor home which now serves as the office, and the “receiving tomb” currently being funded for restoration.  Many of the graves include beautiful statuary, and examples of master ironworkers’ skills, once plentiful in our area, abound.



“Wisdom is the reward for surviving our own stupidity.”

Brian Rathbone

Behind it all, of course, there is evidence of great sadness. The only true death mask in the cemetery is that of young Rosalie White (pictured below), who died at the age of 8 months in 1882. So too, the gravestones of the young boys buried alongside one another in the confederate section of the cemetery – perhaps killed by a friend or even a brother in that horrific conflict.



“Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever.”

Horace Mann

Perhaps my favorite moment toward the end of our morning of shooting came as I happened upon this bottle sitting on a stone wall overlooking the marsh. It looked quite old, as if it had been there for a very long time. I assume someone had placed it there originally, but how long ago I wonder? How many have seen it and left it in its place, including yours truly? To me, it serves as a simple reminder that even among death, there is always life.



“Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

Augustine of Hippo

Reward yourself with the efforts of some other bloggers here.

121 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge – (Final) Reward

  1. Tina, this is such a great post. I love the history and your description of the cemetery teaming with life. The photograph is of course, wonderful but I so appreciate your descriptions and sharing of historical information

  2. Love these shots and thank you for interesting facts too. My favorite shot is the last one. The word “life” on the side of the bottle is amazing. I find it incredible that no one has moved the bottle. I’m glad they had not!

  3. Well done, Tina. You did a great job illustrating the Paradox of cemeteries—they are places of “living” history.

  4. What a lovely interpretation, with beautiful black & white pics. I like the Horace Mann quote, definitely one to remember.

  5. Tina, this is a wonderful entry for this week’s challenge. I love cemeteries, especially ones that have a lot of history. And as always, your quotes are perfect!

    • Thank you Grace, yes the history here is amazing. I really felt the passage of time. As for the quotes this week, a bit harder to find but surprisingly more than I expected that combined rewards and death!

  6. Fabulous shots of a place that has so much history. The monochrome really lets you feel each shot. Beautiful!

  7. Pingback: Learning by doing | Words & Pics

  8. Tina, I have been to Magnolia cemetery more times in my lifetime than I can count. Parents, grandparents , aunts ,uncles are all buried there. My mother would put pointsettias on graves at Christmas and Lillies at Easter. It’s a place very close to my heart. Your photos and storyline took me to a place with longstanding memories..
    The bottle on the wall looks to be a Miller Life beer!!!!!

    • Miss Jeannie!! Thanks for stopping by. Had no idea your family was there, athough if I’d thought about it I could probably have guessed! Thanks so much for lending some personal perspective – and actually it may indeed have been High Life!!

  9. I love your posts always because no matter the theme, you take the high road….. Finding light in what could be dark…… Love the little cherub face…. That life as significant as all…. Finding its place…. Reflective …. Thank you,

  10. I’ve wondered what types of photos can be captured at somber places like a cemetery — you have certainly showed it here. It was so interesting to view! Great photos and post.

    • Thanks very much Lola Jane – this particular cemetery may be a bit more scenic than most but because it’s so old there was something interesting around every corner. Appreciate your visit and ocmment.

  11. You do such an amazing job with every Weekly Photo Challenge! I once did a whole post on how serene and calming I find cemeteries, so I totally understand how your stroll through this one could feel like a walk in a bucolic park.

  12. I enjoyed the tour of the museum along with the background of what you saw. The old bottle at the end was a nice way to finish off too.

    Hollywood Cemetery here in Richmond (named after the many holly trees around it) also has quite a history and is fascinating. On the days it was too hot to walk outside, I’d take my camera during lunch just to drive around and take pictures.

    Thanks for sharing more of your backyard!


  13. A unique and beautiful interpretation of the theme Tina. The use of monochrome is so appropriate to set the mood. I love to study your photos there is so much detail in them, the lighting on the Spanish moss is superb and as always the quotes enhance the meaning of the theme. You deserve a reward for this post…

  14. I have never heard this quote by Nietzsche before, “The final reward of the dead – to die no more.” and that is really a powerful set of words. A perfect set up for viewing your photos, the way you talk about buildings and history along with the cemetery and the photos are timeless captures of forever. Beautiful work Tina ~ have a great weekend.

    • Thanks Randall – yes, I think Nietzsche set me up quite nicely 😊. It was very quiet and peaceful there – timelessness seemed to permeate the atmosphere. Glad you enjoyed.

  15. Lovely post! I do like the bottle – do you know what all the lettering on it says? It’s intriguing that we can only see the word LIFE, and what looks tantalisingly like an R before it….?!

    • Thanks DG, no, I didn’t check out the other writing. Didn’t want to spoil the moment! My friend Jeannie said she thought maybe it was a Miller High Life which would make sense but I prefer to give it a more esoteric interpretation!

  16. Not somber at all, Tina. It’s always rewarding to see your photography with words to live by. The cemetery Is a place for me as a “lost and found” and the reward is we finally get a spot in our life. Einstein is right and Hippo said it eloquently. Good day. Perpetua.

  17. Great post Tina – your monochrome images fit your subject matter perfectly. What a serene place. I enjoyed reading your words – most informative. 🙂

  18. Terrific photos and quotes- once again, you challenge and inspire us to examine the very essence of our humanity. Heart of my heart photo and Jim Morrison quotes my faves, but loved everything about this post. Bravo!!!!

  19. I had thoughts along similar lines, thinking at first my entry would feature some of the sights in old Boston cemeteries that were filled in the late 1600s. I chose not to, however, because there was little in my images besides old headstones. Your post, however, features a much more photogenic location. As usual, very interesting photos, and the monochrome choice fits the subjects.

    • Thanks John. I was really surprised by how beautiful it is. It’s always featured in local photographers’ writing but it was my first time out there. Rest assured I’ll be going back next month when the flowers start to bloom.

  20. Beautiful….and sombre, there is a serene beauty in the last resting place, finally the turmoil of life is laid to rest and another more beautiful and peaceful life begins. The atheists fear death because it closes all door and as one friend who is an atheist said, “the train disappears in the tunnel, a black hole and I don’t know where it went, it is a scary thought to think of death as an end point”
    Thank you for bringing this perspective to us.
    This cemetery also highlights the uselessness of war and its futility as nothing changed.

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