Personal Documentary: Churches & Religion

For my final project I decided to highlight religious diversity within the Pittsburgh area and the various styles of architecture in each place of worship. Personally, I have always felt that any church, temple, or any place of religious worship has a naturally majestic aura to that – one that makes photographing it seem, in a way, necessary. I believe the concept of spirituality is naturally intriguing for any artist, especially in photography.

Albeit, the biggest obstacle with this task (as Prof. Rolinson warned me) was achieving the trust from local religious communities in order to get the best possible shots. I was able to gather a good variety of photographs however the shots I did take from the local synagogues, mosques, and Hindu temples were not all that compelling to make the cut. The prayer sessions and architecture within each of the synagogues, mosques and temples I visited was stunning. However, without the ability to take photographs within certain confines I figured it was an injustice to share only half of the beauty and more importantly only half of the story.

So, instead I decided to try and narrow down my best shots from local churches that I was able to get a bit closer with in such a short period of time. Ironically, many of the locations I was able to navigate and gain better access to were many of the local churches here on my resident, North Side of Pittsburgh. All in all, even with some of the minor hiccups this project presented, it was still a rewarding task. I was able to see a side of Pittsburgh that most of us pass by on a daily basis and never actually stop and take in. The number of aging churches here within the city is astounding and each possess their own unique sense of beauty regardless of how you may feel towards a ‘higher power.’ With all that said, I hope all y’all enjoy the photographs – God knows I enjoyed taking each one.

 

Americana - SS 1/320, F22, Focal Length 18mm

Americana – SS 1/320, F22, Focal Length 18mm

This was actually an old Methodist church a little ways outside of Indiana, Pa (I know its a shade outside of what is considered the Greater Pittsburgh Area). I was driving through the area and couldn’t help, but stop and grab a photo. It was this tiny church sitting by itself off the side of the road – it had so much of that small-town-America-feel I couldn’t help, but smile after taking this photograph.

Maria Immaculata - SS 1/3200, F5, Focal Length 24mm

Maria Immaculata – SS 1/3200, F5, Focal Length 24mm

This was taken over the doorway at Our Lady of Queen Peace on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Even with annual wear and tear the detail in this carving was amazing.

Doorway To Heaven - SS 1/15, F25, Focal Length 25mm

Doorway To Heaven – SS 1/15, F25, Focal Length 25mm

Believe y’all may have already seen this one in my ‘Abstract’ gallery, but it truly belongs with this collection.

Convene - SS 1/8000, F4, Focal Length 18mm

Convene – SS 1/8000, F4, Focal Length 18mm

St. Mary’s on the Mount, may be one of the most famous church’s in Pittsburgh. It is the church that is always shining bright atop Mt. Washington and if you’re ever near the area it is definitely worth checking out. It is open 24-hours for prayer. So churchgoers and tourists alike can go in and actually use the church or just stop to check the place out.

OverLord - SS 1/8000, F3.5, Focal Length 18mm

OverLord – SS 1/8000, F3.5, Focal Length 18mm

I won’t lie I actually do not recall the official name of this massive church right outside of Sharpsburg. I simply saw it off Rt 28 and sped off the nearest exit to grab a shot (it took me two shots to actually get the complete front of this church).

A Woman Cries...Mary - SS 1/250, F11, Focal Length 56mm

A Woman Cries…Mary – SS 1/250, F11, Focal Length 56mm

This was taken right outside of St. Nicholas Croatian Church in Millvale.

Sunday Best - SS 1/40, F3.5, Focal Length 18mm

Sunday Best – SS 1/40, F3.5, Focal Length 18mm

Inside St. Peter Parish.

Solace - SS 1/15, F8, Focal Length 18mm

Solace – SS 1/15, F8, Focal Length 18mm

This is that same altar up close. I wanted to accent the natural light coming off the altar along with the detail in the sculpture, so I toned down the exposure/brightness during the editing process.

Sunday Best Pt 2 - SS 1/4, F3.5, Focal Length 18mm

Sunday Best Pt 2 – SS 1/4, F3.5, Focal Length 18mm

This is the inside of the Calvary United Methodist Church off Allegheny Ave. One of the most beautiful churches I had the privilege of visiting.

The M&M Saints - SS 1/15, F25, Focal Length 31mm

The M&M Saints – SS 1/15, F25, Focal Length 31mm

I honestly could of made an entire gallery just from my photographs of stain glass, but here are just a few of my favorites.

Remembrance - SS 1/13, F16, Focal Length 18mm

Remembrance – SS 1/13, F16, Focal Length 18mm

7185 - St Kotska and St Gonzaga

St. Catherine and St Rose of Lima - SS 1/15, F20, Focal Length 18mm

St. Catherine and St Rose of Lima – SS 1/15, F20, Focal Length 18mm

St. Michael e St. Francis - SS 1/15, F20, Focal Length 31mm

St. Michael e St. Francis – SS 1/15, F20, Focal Length 31mm

Spooky Silence - SS 1/50, F3.5, 18mm

Spooky Silence – SS 1/50, F3.5, 18mm

This was actually a tiny little church I pass everyday on my way to work. It is off Mt. Nebo Rd just on the outskirts of Sewickley. Similar, to the Methodist church I spotted in Indiana this one caught my eye as another slice of Americana. However, taking this shot at night I realized how creepy this church actually is. It sits by itself atop a hill, surrounded by a graveyard, and gives off this naturally eerie vibe. I figured focusing it in B/W would help pull that eeriness out of it – I know I certainty was a little spooked while I took this photograph.

Gothici - SS 1/100, F20, Focal Length 70mm

Gothici – SS 1/100, F20, Focal Length 70mm

This small Baptist church actually has a rather modern interior, but you’d never know it judging by the outside of it.

Midnight Repentance - SS 1/2, F5, Focal Length 18mm

Midnight Repentance – SS 1/2, F5, Focal Length 18mm

Nothing fancy about the Church on Mt. Nebo, it is a rather modernized place of worship. However, I just really liked this shot.

St. Peter's Heavenly Album Cover, "Rockin' Crosses" - SS 1/1250, F5, Focal Length 18mm

St. Peter’s Heavenly Album Cover, “Rockin’ Crosses” – SS 1/1250, F5, Focal Length 18mm

Couldn’t help a bit of comedy on this one.

Modern Faith - SS 1/100, F22, Focal Length 18mm

Modern Faith – SS 1/100, F22, Focal Length 18mm

The Northside Institutional Church is a nice reminder that sometimes a place of spirituality and worship doesn’t need to have any particular look – sometimes it is just about the community. Although, I won’t lie I love the dark purple doors and windows regardless.

Sunday School - SS 1/4000, F5.6, Focal Length 18mm

Sunday School – SS 1/4000, F5.6, Focal Length 18mm

St. Nicholas Croatian Church right in Millvale. A truly massive and beautiful church.

Stone Prayer - SS 1/1000, F5, Focal Length 35mm

Stone Prayer – SS 1/1000, F5, Focal Length 35mm

 

Prayer In Progress - SS 1/1250, F16, Focal Length 18mm

Prayer In Progress – SS 1/1250, F16, Focal Length 18mm

Have to finish with my favorite church I visited, St. Peter Parish. I’m not sure if its the architecture, the outside morning services (they hold a Sunday morning service outside at the local Allegheny Commons Park right across the street), or the fact that the local community is helping raise money to rebuild the right portion of the Cathedral (it was previously damaged) that made me fall in love with it. Either way, I’m glad I got to see it from an angle other than this.

 

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