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How to Take Clandestine Cathedral Pictures | Catholic Life

How to Take Clandestine Cathedral Pictures

Ever wondered how to take better pictures inside churches? Wonder no more! I found the answer while browsing Flickr. A non-Catholic photographer is kind enough to share the secrets.

My method for getting tripods into cathedrals and shooting is this:

1) Go in the exit and act like you are lost if someone asks

2) Wear a long matrix-coat and stuff your tripod up inside like a shotgun. Try not to walk with a limp.

3) Stride confidently through the crowds like you are in a hurry on a photo assignment.

4) Work your way into the pews and have a seat. You can even pretend to be Catholic and say a few Latin words as you sit down. I suggest “Pater Noster (My Father) or Quid Pro Quo (Rub Beads and go to Heaven)”

5) Slide out the tripod and assemble along the ground, When other parishioners look at you suspiciously, give them the sign of the cross.

6) Watch for old people in the main aisle, because they have trouble getting around tripods. Jump out, take your long exposures at 100 ISO, then sit back down.

7) If securty comes to get you, blame Stuck In Customs and that will confuse them long enough so you can make a getaway.

8 ) Don’t worry about getting caught. The church is much more leniant than they were during the Inquisition. Most big cathedrals do have crypts, but they are full of dead saints and they have never put a photographer in there.

9) If you see a tourist with a tiny camera taking a picture with the flash on, please tell them to stop. The flash does nothing in that situation. It’s just embarassing for them, really.

10. See #9. It’s your duty to stop tourists from using flashes… next thing you know, they’ll have their flash on when shooting the Eiffel Tower at night.

Do you have any tips for taking good pictures inside of churches?

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13 Responses to “How to Take Clandestine Cathedral Pictures”

  1. That Married Couple 25. Aug, 2010 at 4:39 am #

    Ha! That is a gorgeous picture at the top though!

  2. Katie 25. Aug, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    “Watch out for old people….” haha. I love cathedrals…beautiful photo. :-)

    • Rae 31. Aug, 2010 at 7:41 am #

      I love cathedrals too!

      • Misti 30. Jul, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

        It’s from The Official Barbara Hambly Page an author pueblshid a book called Homeland on August 25, 2009.a0 The third comment in froma0Kristin who must be psychic since her post was used to comment on

    • William 31. Jul, 2014 at 11:45 am #

      I don’t think you can know the full meaning of udiannctionol love unless you are a parent (not just mothers). Isn’t it the most amazing phenomenon? We do the best we can and our kids (survivors of cold showers) will turn out just fine…in spite of us.

  3. Trena 25. Aug, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    thanks for the good laugh

  4. Kristy 25. Aug, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    That’s hilarious. I would definitely second the no flash and tripod (or at least something on which to rest the camera) recommendations. Lower ISO and longer exposure times can be good, as well, since cathedrals don’t usually have the most ideal lighting. (I learned these things, without actually knowing the terms for them, when I went to Italy 5 years ago. I wish I’d realized it all sooner, though, since my pictures didn’t come out so great.)

    • Rae 31. Aug, 2010 at 7:42 am #

      Thanks for the advice! I often just give up on taking pictures in churches because of the dim lighting.

  5. Melody 25. Aug, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    I agree with the others, that is a gorgeous photo! I love to browse Flickr, lots of eye candy!

    • Rae 31. Aug, 2010 at 7:42 am #


  6. twistedxtian 27. Aug, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    I’ll have to give those tips a try. :)

    When I had trouble getting a tripod into a church I used the back of the pew in front of me to steady the camera and actually got some pretty amazing shots.

    • Rae 31. Aug, 2010 at 7:43 am #

      I’ve never tried a tripod in church, but I have used the back of a pew trick!

  7. Julia in West Des Moines 27. Aug, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    good humor!

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