As we continue to photograph buildings of heritage significance here on Vancouver Island, one of the questions that keeps popping up time and time again is “did you get inside?” This is a fair question, and one we wish we could always answer with a resounding yes, but this isn’t always possible. Sometimes the facilities are locked when we visit and other times events and services are being held. To photograph these places with an eye towards fine art as we do here at Toad Hollow, we really need to access these buildings when they are empty so we can spend a few hours shooting interior photographs.
So, with this in mind let’s head back to St. Andrew’s Parish (Cowichan Station, BC) where today we get to enjoy a comprehensive look at the interior.
Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite churches to shoot. Built in 1904 to serve a growing community, this character church is now well over 100 years old and still standing strong. It’s been quite the number of years since the last service was held here and we believe there is great concern in the community for the long-term plans for the facility. Given the importance it has in terms of a direct link to our local history, it’s easy to understand where the concern comes from.
With all these factors in play we decided to pursue a chance to gain access to the inside of the church to photograph it before any changes were made. By following through on our network we eventually made contact with key people at the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia and opened a dialog. Within short order we were granted permission to visit the building and shoot it, inside and out.
To say we were excited about the opportunity would be one massive understatement.
When we arrived at the pre-determined time and met our contact, we finally had a chance to enter the church for the first time. All the per-conceived notions I had in my head in terms of what we were to expect were quickly put aside as the true wonder of the place came to life. We really prefer to shoot the inside of buildings with the lights on, but in this case there was no power to the building and we had to work with the natural light we had at our disposal.
Even with the power out and all the lights off, the incredible warmth emanating from the rich woodwork found everywhere really created a strong sense of character. For nearly 100 years, congregations came to meet in fellowship here, and that intense feeling of community pride and love for the building was evident as we made our way around taking in all the little details and scenes. Although its footprint is rather small, you could almost hear the chitter-chatter from parishioners as they met before service, and the laughter of joy from the children all dressed in their Sunday best as their parents kept a watchful eye, hoping that the little ones would be on their best behavior.
In today’s day and age, you just don’t see craftsmanship like this very much anymore. Today’s focus on modern styling and high-density buildings precludes the ability for carpenters with pride in their craft to really spend time on the details that make their work stand out. All these years later while we are taking it all in, my mind always begins to wonder about the people who worked on creating all this with the same sense of pride we take here in our photography practice. Some things in life just can’t be rushed and the results are well worth the added investment.
One of the things that I have always had a deep love for when it comes to heritage buildings like this is the stained glass you find within. Even many of our heritage homes on Vancouver Island have great details like this, adding a dash of character and something truly special. Each piece of stained glass represents a story or a feeling, evoked by wonderful colors and tones and expressed in the careful details made within the piece.
What a day we had at St. Andrew’s. This is just the first of its kind as we have made arrangements with the Anglican Diocese of Vancouver Island to shoot all the churches here on Vancouver Island, and the surrounding islands, over the course of the coming months. This is something we are so happy to have the opportunity to do, both in terms of documenting the rich heritage and character of the Anglican churches here on the island, but also in adding all these images to our portfolio for everyone to enjoy. If you’d like to see our complete catalog of photographs from St. Andrew’s, including the 20 new HDR images added for this post, please feel free to visit our online gallery “St Andrew’s – Cowichan Station“.
Thanks so very much for visiting us here today, we really do appreciate it. As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have. Until next time!