How to photograph churches and cathedrals
A photographer is always looking for inspiration and new things to photograph – especially places that are easy to get to where you’re not being obtrusive. Churches fit the bill perfectly because the architecture is beautiful, they’re generally quite peaceful, and usually surrounded by some greenery. This week we’re going to give you all the tools and techniques you’ll need to make the most of church photography, so that you’ll soon be taking great pictures you can print on canvas for your home or even as gifts.
As lovely as churches are to photograph, it’s important to remember that they’re primarily places of worship, so always be respectful when visiting them. For the exterior shots you take be aware that you’ll probably be in a graveyard so be mindful of where you shoot from – no stepping on graves! When shooting inside, it’s worth checking to see if there are any rules regarding photography (more likely in larger churches and cathedrals), and if there are please respect them because they’re there for a reason.
The gear you’ll need
The good news is that no specialist gear is required for this kind of photography – well, you’ll need a camera that can shoot in manual mode and a tripod, but apart from that, it’s all about you and your camera craft. Isn’t that refreshing?
Think about telling a story with your set of photos by including wide shots of the church and grounds, along with some close-up images of the details. Churches often have incredibly complex architectural details – gargoyles and angels, for example – that make perfect photographic subjects.
For the wide shots consider where the light is falling on the church: backlit shots with the sun blazing will create an ethereal glow to the outline of the church, whereas shots with the sun behind you lighting up the church will show all the detail better.
One of our favourite ways to shoot a church is with the sun on your back and storm clouds behind the building in the distance. The combination of the foreboding sky and the sunlight (preferably late in the day) makes for a dramatic image.
Use a tripod, fill the frame, move around the grounds and you’ll soon have a memory card full of great images that tell the story of the church.
Sunset over Church
Next week in part 2 we’ll give you all the info you need to take your camera inside the church or cathedral, and capture the dramatic and beautiful features and windows you’re likely to find.
11 February, 2021