Capturing eternity with a camera

— image credit:


by Reneé Mizar

Communications Director, Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley

Ranging from expansive scenic overlooks to nearly hidden roadside pockets, the dozens of cemeteries scattered across the North Olympic Peninsula are as unique in individual character as they are identical in collective purpose.


For photographer and Museum & Arts Center Executive Director DJ Bassett, these history-rich places of serenity offer a distinctive beauty and originality worthy of respect, care and capture through photography.


Bassett will discuss North Olympic Peninsula cemeteries in a photographically illustrated presentation at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 14, at the Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road in Sequim.


Admission for the program, sponsored by the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, is $5 for MAC members and $7 for non-members, payable at the door.


In addition to overviewing some of the cemeteries in the region, with primary focus on those in Clallam County, Bassett will discuss cemetery etiquette and ethics, photographic equipment and techniques, and genealogical research. He also will discuss preservation and care of historical artifacts, which include gravestones.


“Cemeteries are often thought of as being for the dead. I believe that they are for the living,” Bassett said. “The beauty of all cemeteries, whether they are very nicely groomed and well taken care of or long-forgotten and overgrown, has drawn my interest and attention.”


Bassett, a professionally trained photographer and instructor since the early 1970s, has been photographing cemeteries since his teenage years in rural Illinois and a large part of his photographic career included historical photo preservation, photo education and cemetery and gravestone photography. He has been photographing North Olympic Peninsula cemeteries for more than a decade.


“My interest in cemeteries began at an early age. I’ve always been interested in history, family history and the imagery surrounding those subjects,” Bassett said. “I’m not sure why I was drawn to cemeteries, but the beauty of the lovely granite and marble headstones neatly organized in a manicured green-grass place seemed like a place I wanted to be.”


This presentation continues a winter series of local history programs presented by the MAC on Friday mornings through February at the Dungeness Schoolhouse, which is ADA accessible. Additional upcoming programs include the Lower Dungeness River Floodplain Restoration Project with Clallam County DCD habitat biologist Cathy Lear on Friday, Feb. 21, and Jamestown S’Klallam totems with master carver Dale Faulstich on Friday, Feb. 28.


Faulstich also will lead a separate guided tour of the “House of Myths” Carving Shed, located on the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Campus in Blyn, at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 1. Tour admission is $20 for MAC members or $25 for non-members and payable at the door.


For more information, call 681-2257 or visit

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