The rain had just ceased, the gray blanket of clouds above backlit by a deeply hidden sun. This was the day I decided to visit a New Orleans cemetery. The incessant photo-bug within me tugged at my sleeve, but I felt hesitant, idling my car at the intersection of two cracked residential streets. In every direction stood graveyards.

According to locals, traipsing through a New Orleans cemetery without a tour guide can be a bad idea – some looters and muggers lurk among the graves. But I really wanted to capture the above-ground tombstones in their magnificent decay, so I dragged my friend along to the nearest cemetery, the Lafayette Cemetery No. 2.

We parked the car on the side of the road and bravely marched through the wrought iron gate into the hush of the crypts. Only the grumble of a lawnmower slicing overgrowth at the back of the cemetery disturbed the silence.

The tombs, though eerie and crumbling, stood resilient and magnificent. Dating back hundreds of years and featuring inscriptions in various languages, they sparked curiosity more than fear. Though I was ready to scurry back to the safety of my car after about 20 minutes of poking my nose and camera lens between the tombstones, I felt lucky to have been able to capture the crypts in their ghostly beauty on a particularly gloomy day. These cemeteries are above-ground embodiments of history and a must-see for anyone traveling to New Orleans, although I do recommend booking a tour for your personal peace of mind.