19 Tips To Take Impactful Photos at Church

Church photography can be a captivating and significant way to capture and share the stories of your church community.

Whether you are a professional looking to capture the essence of a church’s architecture and design or a member of the church looking to capture the spirit and emotion of your church services, here are nineteen tips to help you capture stunning photos at church.

1. Use Natural Light To Your Advantage

Church interiors can be dark, which can be difficult for photographers. However, natural light can provide a beautiful and dramatic effect in church photography. Look for windows and other sources of natural light, and use them to your advantage.

2. Experiment With Different Angles And Perspectives

Instead of simply shooting from eye level, try shooting from a higher or lower angle to add interest and dimension to your photographs. You can also try shooting from different perspectives, such as from the back of the church or the side.

3. Look For Symmetry And Patterns In Your Composition

Some churches were built with beautiful symmetry and patterns in their architecture and design in mind, making for striking photographs. Look for repeating elements such as arches, columns, and stained glass windows, and use them to create visual balance and interest in your photos.

4. Use Leading Lines To Draw Focus To Your Subject

Leading lines are visual elements in a photograph that draw the eye toward the main subject. In church photography, these could be lines created by pews, aisles, chairs, or other elements of the architecture. Leading lines are used to direct the viewer’s focus toward the intended subject of your photograph.

5. Pay Attention To The Composition of Your Shot

Composition is the way that elements in a photograph are arranged. In church photography, you can use composition to highlight the beauty and importance of the space. Look for ways to balance negative space (empty space) with positive space (elements in the photograph), and try using the rule of thirds to add interest and depth to your photos.

6. Get Creative With Depth of Field And Objects In Focus

The term “depth of field” means the amount of a photo in focus. By using a shallow depth of field, you can blur the background of your photograph and draw attention to the main subject. This can be particularly effective in church photography, as it can help to emphasize the grandeur and beauty of the space or to focus on a subject such as someone worshipping.

7. Experiment With The Use of Long Exposures

Long exposures can create a dreamy, ethereal effect in church photos. Using a slow shutter speed, you can capture the movement of people or objects in the church, creating a sense of motion and activity. Conversely, it can be used to smooth out water as in the image above. Be sure to use a tripod to keep your camera steady, and consider using a remote shutter release to minimize camera shake.

8. Experiment With Black-And-White Photography

Black and white photography can add a timeless, classic feel to church photos. It can also help to emphasize contrast and texture in the architecture and design of the space.

9. Capture The Atmosphere of The Room

Religious services and events often have a unique atmosphere filled with emotion and meaning. Try to capture this atmosphere in your photographs by looking for candid moments and emotions. If you are shooting during a worship service, scan the room for who is most engaged.

10. Use People To Add Context And Scale To Your Photo

People can add context and scale to church photos, helping to give a sense of the size and grandeur of the space. Look for opportunities to include people in your photographs, whether during a church service or event or candid shots of people exploring the area.

11. Use A Tripod To Avoid Shaky & Blurry Images

Low-light situations, such as churches, require you to choose between noisy high-ISO images, shallow depth of field from a low aperture, or blurry photos from a slow shutter speed. A tripod can help to keep your camera steady and ensure sharp, blur-free photographs.

12. Use A Wide-Angle Lens

A wide-angle lens can be particularly effective in church photography, as it can help to capture the grandeur and scale of the space. It can also be useful for shooting architecture and details.

13. Try Shooting During Golden Hour

“Golden hour” is the time just after sunrise or before sunset when the light is soft and warm. This can be a beautiful time to photograph churches, as the natural light can add a warm, golden glow to the interior and exterior.

14. Use Flash Sparingly During Services & Events

Flash can be harsh and unflattering in church photography and can also be disruptive during a church service or event. If you need to use flash, try diffusing it, I recommend the Magmod system. You can also try bouncing the flash off the ceiling or walls to create a softer, more natural light.

15. Capture Lots of Small Details

In addition to shooting a church’s overall architecture and design, don’t forget to capture the small details that make it unique. This could include stained glass windows, altarpieces, or other decorative elements. These details could be as simple as a cup of coffee in someone’s hand or your church’s welcome package.

16. Shoot In RAW Format

RAW format captures all of the data (called lossless because it is uncompressed) from your camera’s sensor, giving you the most flexibility in post-processing. This can be particularly useful in church photography, allowing you to adjust white balance and exposure to get the perfect shot.

17. Edit Your Photos Using Post-Processing Software

Post-processing can be a powerful tool for creating stunning church photos. Experiment with different edits and techniques to bring out the best in your photographs. I recommend using Lightroom or Lightroom Mobile (for tablets).

18. Get Permission To Capture The Service or Event

If you are planning to photograph a church service or event, be sure to get permission first. Respect the wishes of the church and its members, be mindful of any restrictions or guidelines that may be in place; always check local laws surrounding photography in public and have a widely visible indicator that photos are being taken.

19. Be Respectful of Everyone In Attendance

Just because you have permission to take photos of your church and its members doesn’t mean you should take these photos. Be sure not to disturb anyone who might be worshipping or praying by using a flash or getting too close to them. Also, be mindful of how loud your shutter is; if you use a DSLR, the sound of your mirror flipping up during a shot will be considerably loud.

Jeremy Goh

Jeremy grew up volunteering at church and has also worked in a church setting. Along with working as a freelance creative, Jeremy is studying for a business degree in finance and international business.

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