Historic Architecture at the Panthéon in Paris

The Panthéon is one of the locations we photograph during our Paris workshop. It was originally built in 1790 as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, but it now is a mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. Its neoclassic architecture is beautiful to photograph and it’s worth visiting even if you’re not a photographer. The entrance fee is €9 (it’s included in the workshop price).

After you pay for the entrance, you get to a massive space, which must have been the church nave and transept. It’s a great space to shoot the ceiling straight up and work on your symmetry, like the image at the top of the article. In the wider image below, you can see that there are several domes, all worth photographing.

Towards the back of the building, there’s a great spiral staircase. It’s small and narrow, so you need to mind other people and be patient if you don’t want them in your shots. It’s also a great way to work with leading lines, spiral staircases are the best for this!

At the bottom of the stairs, you get to the crypt. The first room as a very interesting architecture with columns and vaulted stone ceilings, a great way to utilize layering and symmetry.

Once you get to the area with the tombs, the architecture changes. It’s very dark down there, so make sure your settings are appropriate: high ISO, wide aperture. Using the stone floor as a leading line pulls the viewer into your image. While the arch at the right corner acts as another leading line and creates mystery as a foreground element while it pulls the eye around the corner.

Coming back up through the main staircase, you are briefly outside, which gives you an interesting view of the columns through the (very tall) door. A great opportunity to utilize framing plus layering.

While the interior is the most best part of the building in our opinion,  the exterior has some interesting details you can focus on. It’s very ornate and the columns are great leading lines.

While we usually prefer modern architecture for abstracts and details, historic buildings can provide great opportunities for photography. The Panthéon is not as well-known as Notre-Dame or the Louvre, but it’s a must-see if you visit Paris!



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