Doors to the Soul (Dennis Aubrey)

I’ve always been fascinated by the site of the exterior light coming into the church from the old doors and am always on the prowl for these shots. The first one that I shot was at Lavaudieu. The church in this little Auvergnat town was the third we had shot in the day and after two hours, I was exhausted and finished. While PJ continued to shoot in the apse area, I packed up my equipment and sat down to rest. At some point my gaze turned to the door and this is what I saw. Five minutes later, the equipment was set up and I took this single shot, which to this day is one with which I am very pleased.

Eglise Abbatiale Lavaudieu, Lavaudieu (Haute-Loire) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

This door at the Abbey church of Silvacane in the Provence is stunning for several reasons. The deep red color contrasts with the muted interior, and the doors are relatively small compared to the west wall in which they are placed. In this particular shot we get both the light from the exterior door and the windows above, which provides enough illumination to really sense the scale of the entire church itself. The arch of the side aisle, of course, is a wonderful addition to the scene.

L’Abbaye de Silvacane, La Roque d’Anthéron (Bouches-du-Rhône) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

As usual, PJ sees different things than I do in these churches, and is drawn inevitably into seeing the small, telling details that make them special. Here are two door shots from her, one in the Pyrénées and the other in the Auvergne. The door of the Chapelle de la Trinité is beautifully adorned with the metalwork on the exterior, and one can hardly see the wood door beneath.

Chapelle de la Trinité, Prunet- et- Belpuig (Pyrénées-Orientales) Photo by PJ McKey

At the pilgrimage church of Orcival, on the other hand, the wood of the door is beautifully textured and weathered. One can imagine the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims over the years who have passed through this door to see Notre Dame des Fers inside.

Notre Dame d’Orcival, Orcival (Puy-de-Dôme) Photo by PJ McKey

The tiny Eglise de Mailhat in the town of Mailhat-Lamontgie in the Puy-de-Dôme has some wonderful touches, including the inimitable “Potty Boy”. Here are two shots of the door of the church, including PJ’s wonderful closeup of the ancient hardware on the outer face of the door.

Eglise de Mailhat, Mailhat (Puy-de-Dôme) Photo by PJ McKey
Eglise de Mailhat, Mailhat (Puy-de-Dôme) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Finally, there is this door in the great Cathedral of Saint Stephen in Cahors. There is so much to see in this church including the superb north tympanum, but my favorite shot of the church is this one. It is unique in a way because the door leads not to the exterior of the church, which would feature natural light, but the sacristy, which was instead illuminated artificially. It gives a wonderful, mysterious feeling to the shot, especially with the superb geometric patterns of the floor and walls.

Cathédrale Saint Etienne, Cahors (Lot) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

14 thoughts on “Doors to the Soul (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. Stunning images of light coming into these churches, beautifully captured. Also, the I am drawn to detail and love those images, especially the one at Notre Dame d’Orcival….fabulous.

  2. First there is the light waiting for the photographer who sees it in its beauty and knows how to show it to the world, and then there is this post. Incredibly beautiful. Thank you!

  3. I went to the Chapelle de la Trinité – the doors were very interesting though PJ’s photograph of the detail is better than the real thing! There’s an amazing crucifix inside the chapel; Jesus and the cross are stylized and very modern, the lines are virtually straight and not at all realistic. You probably have a post about it somewhere… It was blowing a gale when I was there.

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