Hidden Architectural Gem: St Louis Abbey Church | Photography Unfolded

Hidden Architectural Gem: St Louis Abbey Church

 In Locations

This past Christmas, we did a roadtrip from Chicago to Phoenix and back. While the trip was more about landscape and national parks, we couldn’t resist checking out a few architectural locations on the way. One of these stops was the beautiful St Louis Abbey Church, designed by Gyo Obata of HOK.

Located a little outside of the city, the church is a circular, symmetrical building. The outside has some interesting patterns, and the contrast between the white roofs and black windows is great for architectural details. Wider, symmetrical shots work well here:

You can also find some good details by isolating some of the curves and playing with layers.

While the exterior is interesting, the interior of the church is truly beautiful. The ceiling is the main feature of the space, with the oculus and radiating lines.

You cannot get perfectly centered under the skylight because of the altar, but you can get close enough. A lot of the shots work well in color and in black-and-white, as well as in low-key and high-key.


The wide shots of the ceiling are more obvious, but we recommend also focusing on the great curves. Focusing on those can help create minimalist compositions.

The windows are another interesting feature as they create some great shapes and patterns. It works well wide…

… but don’t forget to play with tighter compositions too. They look different when shot straight-on vs from the side.

St Louis Abbey Church is beautiful and definitely worth the detour if you’re in St Louis! Do you have any other less-known locations in St Louis? Share in the comments!

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