Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shooting at Church

I was raised in a home where an entire dining room credenza was devoted not to tablecloths and silverware, but instead to my father's camera equipment. Much of our family refrigerator was annexed by little boxes of film. Today I own a camera so insubstantial, I can almost hear my father (of blessed memory) grunting with derision.

My camera is small, it's digital, and the flashlight function is never on because I prefer shooting with available light. Still, given some reactions, you'd think I'd entered the church sanctuary with a 4 x 5" view camera and a 150 mm lens mounted on a tripod, studio-quality lights, a roll of seamless, umbrellas, light panels and a studio chair. Or, an Uzi.

Now that I've settled into the rhythm and humidity of life in Baltimore, I've taken to wandering around shooting local sights and sites. I have a thing for architectural detail and there's no shortage of that in Charm City. I also have a thing for church sanctuaries, especially ones that but for the cross are almost indistinguishable from sanctuaries found in older synagogues. Yes, I have a camera and I'm not afraid to use it.

Evenly matched at this point are churches where I've felt welcomed by clergy and ones where I've been glared at ─ by lay ministers. Adult altar servers seem particularly territorial, prompting me to wonder if they skip the "forgive us our trespasses" part of the Lord's Prayer.

This past Sunday, I dealt with the hostile stare of one candle-snuffing old dragon by smilingly sweetly* and cooing, "You have such a beautiful sanctuary here." She remained grimly unresponsive, thus prompting me to wonder whether Jesus had gone down the wrong way during Holy Communion.

*For real.


  1. You shot the altar . . . .
    But you did not shoot the atrium.

  2. Good one, Regina! And now I have that song in my head.

  3. Be sure to get to historic Lovely Lane Methodist Church. I think it's on Charles Street, and Goucher College was located there. You're just visiting, right?

    A former Baltimorean, B.F. Fox


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