Shooting pictures of churches and cathedrals brings a host of challenges. You’re faced with a big space and poor light… but that’s no problem if you follow these simple steps.
Shooting huge interior spaces like you do when taking pictures of churches, cathedrals, museums and other similar venues might look difficult on first glance, but it’s actually quite straightforward.
Make sure you give yourself time to explore your photo location properly, and check to see if you need permission to take photographs. Usually it’s not a problem, but you may be asked to buy a permit.
Nailing the basics of interior photography
Some buildings are even more spectacular on the inside than they are on the outside. While shooting pictures of churches and other indoor architecture does bring special challenges, all you really need for professional-looking results is a little patience and know-how.
The most obvious issue is the lighting. The light levels are going to be lower than they are outdoors, so you have two choices: either you use a tripod, or you switch to a higher ISO.
You won’t always get permission to use a tripod, but it’s worth asking, even if you have to pay a small fee for a photography permit.
Tripods let you use longer exposures so that you don’t have to increase the ISO, which means you get the best possible picture quality.
They also let you make very small, precise adjustments to the composition, and make it easier to get the camera level – and this is crucial if you’re to avoid converging verticals.
This is perhaps the biggest difference between professional architectural photographs and amateur snaps.
If you can’t use a tripod, don’t despair: the latest DSLRs produce good-quality pictures even at high ISO settings.
Some of the shots on these pages were taken with a tripod at ISO100, while others were shot handheld at ISO3200 – and it’s not always easy to tell which is which.
However you’re shooting, keep your eyes open for unusual angles. Start with the ‘obvious’ shot, a wide-angle view, but then look around for small details, striking lighting effects and different viewpoints.
Try shooting from floor level or from high up – many churches and cathedrals offer guided tours of galleries or towers that can give you a different perspective.
Just follow our simple tips for pictures of churches and cathedrals you can be proud of.