Are there better places than churches?

Catholic churches offer great photography options

I have lived my entire life — with the exception of a few years right out of high school — in church. But I’m Southern Baptist, and the buildings in which we gather aren’t known for being ornate.

So I’ve always had a thing for Catholic churches, at least those that were built before the 1960s and ’70s when architecture became boring and stale. Who could walk into New Orleans’ St. Louis

Cathedral and not be awed?

Fine Art Photography by Andy Crawford

St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is the spiritual and physical anchor of the famed French Quarter.

But it’s more than those grandiose cathedrals. Even smaller parishes served by older church buildings provide great eye candy, as the Catholic church has centuries of history played out in these facilities.

Take, for instance, the Spanish missions in and around St. Antonio. Some are rather bland adobe constructions (I happen to lump the famed Alamo into this group, despite it’s history in the war for Texas independence), some are just stunning.

San Juan is the most humble, a small complex with a simple chapel. The walls that once ringed the compound are by and large gone. I think the Alamo, obviously the most-famous, is likewise pretty bland. The facade makes a great photo, but that’s about it.

Espada provides more eye candy, with a wonderful three-bell tower and the remains of other buildings, along with a portion of the wall. The altar isn’t overly ornate, but it’s nice.

And then there are the other two — by far the most spectacular.

Mission Concepcion and San Jose have a lot to offer. Both are pretty fortress-like structures, with towering walls and a warren of rooms. The chapels are fantastic.

Backing off and using a 400mm telephoto lens allowed me to juxtapose these two crosses, which top Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, Texas.

Backing off and using a 400mm telephoto lens allowed me to juxtapose these two crosses, which top Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, Texas.

San Jose is the most complete. The walls are complete, the gates have been restored and there are all kinds of architectural details that will eat up hours of photo time. And the altar is simply stunning. And the cathedral is topped with a great dome and wonderful crosses.

Concepcion has fewer outbuildings, but the chapel is beautiful and the altar is great. But the real winner is the main building, which is wonderfully textured.

I spent an entire day moving from one mission to the next, and I know there are images to take the next visit.

And after a full day of photographing the historic missions, the day was topped off with a stroll and dinner along the San Antonio Riverwalk.

And I have great fine art prints to remember my time in the churches.

Click here to see my Churches Collection!

About Andy Crawford

Andy Crawford has been a photographer and writer for more than 20 years, with thousands of images and articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country. He now focuses on Louisiana photography, landscapes, HDR photography, urban prints and other fine art photography. He also is a portrait photographer.