Jonathan: First of all, it is good to see that you have time along with your Army duties to exercise your eye and forefinger.
Cemeteries are prime attractors of the photographic eye. A cemetery comes with a slew of potential narrative ingredients - allusions to mortality, loss, rememberance, ephemerality, etc., etc. Because of all the narrative "overhead" associated with cemeteries, as subject matter it represents a particularly useful opportunity for a discussion of narrative intent. My sense is that the photos of cemeteries you have shared suffer most from lack of a point-of-view. As in all subject matter in photography, it is the framing of a selected set of given subject items and their enhancement by the resulting treatment of formal visual elements that yield photographs that capture our interest and stimulate our empathy.
In photographing cemeteries there are numerous possibilites for pushing the narrative in one direction or another. A non-exhaustive list could include: showing neglect, with all that implies about say, the loneliness of the human condition; (the opposite) showing evidence of caring of the living for the memory of the departed; contrasting a lively formal rhythm of the grave markers with the stasis of the moribund; grave markers versus new growth (renewal), and on and on. The goal is to have a point of view, one, ideally that is sufficiently complex to allow for multiple and, indeed, ambiguous
interpretation. By the latter italics, I mean to emphasize that the narratives of which I speak are hopefully beyond what can be easily articulated into one-liners or other easily pigeon-holed categorization. But, it is useful for the photographer to have some sense of intent. (Or, at least, a strong attraction to and resonance with the subject.) I often get back to the computer and, when working with the raw image, expand my understanding (for me
) of a narrative or narrative possibilities. Often, this requires a re-visit to the site (if possible) to strengthen my sense of the narrative, by all the variants at our disposal (lighting, lens, focus, depth of field, point of attack, etc.) Then, since I am opposed to captions in the interest of not imposing my narrative on the very possibly different and/or richer narratives of the viewer, I largely keep my intent to myself. But, having my intent is vital to my sense of my photographic "mission".
In the interests of not "hiding" behind "mere" theory, I offer the following link to a cemetery shot of mine that satisfies my sense of narrative.Ridgewood NY