Member of the National Genealogical Society 2018
Member of the New Mexico Genealogical Society 2018

It's Legal To Take Photos In Cemeteries, Right?

Not really. For decades, someone has had a camera or cell phone out taking photos of

What would we do without the the thousands of people who have helped in our genealogical research with their photographs?

Yet, we do not have the legal right to take photos in a cemetery without permission.

Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence (1984), simply states "the government is able to restrict photography because there is a substantial interest in showing respect for the deceased and their families, and this restriction is content neutral, meaning it is not aimed to suppress any specific group or belief."
(Taking Pictures In A Cemetery, What Are Your Rights?, The Funeral Law Blog, C. Armentrout, April 2, 2014,, accessed January 12, 2018)

We may feel that cemeteries are public land, but in actually, through legalities most are considered not to be public. I actually have a land deed to the plot my late husband is buried in and if so desired, can legally request someone to leave his plot and not take photos.0

Every state, and every cemetery is different. Many, like Arlington National Cemetery, will post their rules for photographers, and we the public should always follow them. (Information for Photographers, Arlington National Cemetery (, accessed January 12, 2018).

If the cemetery you're visiting has an office on premises or in the municipality, and you wish to take extensive photos in helping others with their genealogy research, it is always appreciated that you call ahead of time and gain permission. 

Should you ever be confronted on the premises of a cemetery and asked to leave due to photo taking, it is always wise and polite to follow their request.


  1. I just went to Arlington Nationals webs site and didn't see any restrictions. I lived in the area and drove tour buses there and never heard of any restrictions.

  2. You are correct regarding Arlington. They have a posted sign giving people permission to take photos. It may not be in large print, but it is posted.