Life sometimes brings surprises out of what seems to be such an ordinary thing.
As I walked the streets of Paris one day, taking photographs and observing life, it began to rain. Hard, sudden rain. The kind of rain you cannot ignore for long if you’re carrying your camera and not wearing a raincoat. As I looked around for a cafe to escape into, I saw that right next to me was an open gate, leading to an open door. It was certainly no cafe. It was a small, neighborhood church that, from it’s appearance, had been in this neighborhood for a long, long time (in research, I later learned that the original structure was built in the thirteenth century). Normally, I may have hesitated to enter a church so as not to disturb but the door was wide open, it was cold and raining, so I stepped in. The old, worn exterior gave no clue as to the grand magnificence awaiting inside.
I typically don’t go around ducking into churches but I am glad I did on this rainy Paris day. I was relieved to discover that this cathedral, that I ‘happened’ into, was relatively empty. Maybe all the tourists were so busy trying to get to the famous, and very amazing, Notre Dome Cathedral that they passed right by it and missed this amazing space. There were no staff members either, as I so often saw in many other places, trying to corral tourists and keep them in the proper areas. There were no roped-off or forbidden sections. A photographer’s heaven.
I am not a religious person. I have my set of spiritual beliefs but I do not associate myself with organized religion, and yet, as I began to walk through this space, I could feel my heart enlarging and opening beneath my breasts. A profound sense of connection overcame me as I began to feel the history of this church that has stood for hundreds of years and holds the hopes, dreams, and prayers of so many souls that have come here.
It was so beautiful and I wanted to honor it by somehow capturing not only the incredible and breathtaking design and architecture, but the essence of it, the prayers it held, the souls of those who come here to connect with the Divine. I also noted the practical reality of how very dark it was inside this cathedral! I could make very long exposures (with ‘creative’ tripods) or accept the noise of using a high ISO setting (or both). My current camera is not known for shooting well in low light but the cathedral was too beautiful to go unphotographed. I had to try. As it turns out, I ended up feeling that the grainy texture of the high iso perfectly suited a cathedral that was hundreds/thousands of years old.
Here are a few of the photographs I took and I will post a link to my website when I have finished editing and uploading all of them. After the ‘happenstance’ of wandering into this cathedral, I have photographed many others, as part of a project I have begun, involving a book of cathedrals all over the world…..inspired by this little church that started as simply a shelter from the rain.
Thanks for taking a look and your feedback is always desired and welcome! Have a great day, everyone!