saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
Over winter break I took my first big road trip since I was a kid; two weeks exploring the southwest. I’ve never really visited this part of the country outside of a couple stays in the Phoenix area. The first half of the trip was kid-free and started in Chicago, of course. As anyone who knows the midwest, there’s a lot of dullness to get through before getting to some interesting landscape and scenery. Most of the trip was intended to be about nature and national parks and finally getting to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (!), leaving the big camera behind and really being on vacation – exploring, hiking and experiencing these new places.
A quick little tangent…as much as I LOVE photography I’ve found that when I’m on vacation, and especially with my kids, if I spend all my time behind my camera I’m not really experiencing what I’m doing, I don’t remember it or feel it the same way. It’s important to take breaks even from something I enjoy putting myself into, particularly now that this is more profession than hobby. It doesn’t mean I don’t love what I do, I 100% do, but we all need to take a step back once in a while and fully experience something new. Those experiences recharge and help us grow, creatively and personally. Leaving the camera behind might make those experiences richer.
Anyhow…I did get the camera out a couple of times for a few brief architecture stops and a few nature-y locations I just couldn’t pass up. They were all quick stops and a very small amount of photography over these 2+ weeks, I really was trying to just be present. Always a work in progress. I’ll explore each in a separate post.
First up, a brief, but welcome, stop at the Saint Louis Abbey in the middle of a very long drive on day 1. It takes 2 days to get to good landscapes from Chicago, lol!
The church and accompanying boys school was founded in 1955 with construction completed 1962 and designed by Gyo Obata of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK). The circular building with three tiers of whitewashed concrete and windows made of dark insulated-fiberglass polyester contrast well against each other, particularly from the exterior. The dull gray sky actually worked well as a blank canvas for the shapes of the church to shine.
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
Once inside, those black windows actually have this beautiful, serene transparency. I liked the soft light and tones of the white, black and blue.
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
Of course, I also like the space in black and white. Mood certainly changes and images become more about the shapes and contrasts in tones that aren’t as subtle as the color versions.
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
One thing you may have noticed is that every image above, other than the tighter shot of the exterior, is symmetrical. This location lends itself well to this type of composition, it creates a balance and serenity that is fitting to this building’s purpose. Not to say other types of compositions don’t work, below are a couple examples and I’m sure if I spent more time here there would have been even more. An argument to venture back here one day 😉
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
saint louis abbey, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
There are a few more shots of this location here. See you again soon with more from my recent travels!

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