For more than a year, photographer Colin Winterbottom has been collaborating with Washington National Cathedral to create breathtaking images of the Cathedral building’s interior and exterior from truly unusual perspectives. With rare access to the Cathedral’s heights and crypt areas, Winterbottom has been building a portfolio of extraordinary work. He catches the rhythm of light across the Cathedral’s exterior, bathed in light or shrouded in mist; its interior, through netting and stained glass; and its grounds, at all hours of the day. In the process, he has captured areas damaged by the 2011 earthquake as well as spaces whose beauty remains unshaken.
Winterbottom’s work was featured from January to February at Long View Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The title of the exhibit was “Gothic Resilience.” This body of work subsequently moved to the Cathedral, where it remains on display in the seventh-floor Pilgrim Observation Gallery between the Cathedral’s west towers.
The results of this collaboration are inspiring and informational, providing viewers with rare glimpses of the Cathedral’s richly ornamented surfaces of wood, glass, and stone as well as its soaring spaces. Employing perspectives seldom available from publicly accessible areas, Winterbottom’s photographs introduce even those most familiar with the building to surprising details—from ghost cathedrals in the sky to lacy patterns in stonework and unsettling geometry.
Winterbottom has built his career largely on studies of Washington’s urban landscape, embracing the grand and gritty with equal enthusiasm. His photos seek to express not just what a place looks like but how it feels to be there, combining heightened sensitivity to place with compelling compositions and unique perspectives to infuse the urban landscape with drama and mood.
Scaffolding being installed for earthquake repairs will provide Winterbottom with access to even more vantage points. He will continue to photograph at the Cathedral in the course of restoration work.