Vertical Churches is a visually stunning series by photographer Richard Silver that presents a set of vertical panorama shots of churches. Each image spotlights the spectacular architecture of these spiritual places of worship using the photographer’s unique technique. We first shared Silver’s incredible project last year when he had originally sought to document churches in New York. He has since expanded his series to include cathedrals across the globe.
The beautifully documented sites in Silver’s photos offer viewers a breathtaking glimpse of the architectural subjects’ towering stature and intricately detailed interiors. Using 6-10 photos to compose each shot, the photographer manages to feature numerous images that are seamlessly woven together to create one spectacular photo that mimics the vision of someone standing directly in the center of the respective church. Each image offers a 180-degree view that captures the magnitude and height of the meticulously designed spaces.
Above: Franciszkanska Church in Krakow
We were lucky enough to get to ask Richard a few questions about his process and which church was his favorite to photograph. Be sure to read that interview, below.
Cathedral of Christ the King in Johannesburg
St Vincent De Paul in California
Cathedral of the Holy Name in Mumbai
Dominican Church in Krakow
Iglesia de San Francisco in Mexico City
St. Mathias in Budapest
St. Mary’s Church in Poland
Potosi’s Convent of Santa Teresa in Bolivia
St. Andreas in Dsseldorf
The Church of Saint Augustin in Vienna
St. Cajetan in Goa, India
Church of the Transfiguration in Krakow
How long does each photo typically take to fully compose?
To actually take the photos only takes about a minute as long as there is no one in the way of me taking the shot and if I do not use a tripod. If I have the time and am allowed to use a tripod, about 5 minutes. The real work is done once I am in front of my computer. By using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, I merge the 6-10 photos together to create the Vertical Panorama, this takes about 20 minutes to complete. So the full time allotted I would say from start to finish is about half an hour for each photo.
What inspired you to expand the Vertical Churches series to churches outside of New York?
I have always taken photos of churches in my travels as architecture is a huge part of my photography portfolio. Now having the vision to shoot in this way I literally stake out cities to find out where there are the most amount of churches. I want my portfolio to be large enough so I can one day have a book printed.
In your bio, you say “By sharing my perspective with others I aim not only to present a photograph but also a lens into my feelings and outlook in a particular moment.” How would you describe your feelings as you stand in each of these beautiful churches?
Each one has a singular moment for me. Be it some churches are very crowded with tourists, some are completely empty so I move into action differently for each circumstance. When it is empty I absorb more of the feeling of the building and what it represents, I appreciate the tranquility of churches. Then when they are so crowded that I can’t complete my photos, the feeling is rushed and isn’t special at all. The other moments when there are parishioners praying and I sometimes feel like I am intruding on their personal peaceful time, that is when I feel uncomfortable. I always try and be as quiet as possible knowing exactly where I am.
Which church/cathedral/basilica has been your favorite to photograph? Why?
That is a tough one to answer. I think it was the Serbian Orthodox church in New York. I pass by this spectacular church almost every day and it is only open on Sunday’s for worship. The friar actually opened up the church just for me to photograph during the week. I felt honored to be able to photograph such a wonderful piece of architecture. I ended up printing the photos out for him to keep in his office.
Do you have a memorable experience from your travels, capturing your latest set of stunning churches, that you can share with us?
I was in Krakow, Poland on my most recent trip. My friend and I went back to St. Marys’ Church for a third time because there is only a particular time of each day that you are allowed to take photos. So when we went back they were hosting this ceremony that we could not figure out what it was for. There were armed soldiers, costumes from many different eras and 3 people were handling these large falcons which were wild. The church is so beautiful with a royal blue ceiling and exquisitely decorated with a unique cross hanging from the rafters. No one spoke English so we never found out what the ceremony was commemorating.