Lori Carey Photography

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On a mission at the Mission

Photos from my last visit to Mission San Juan Capistrano have been added to my website and many are available for licensing at Photoshelter.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is the 7th of 21 California Missions along El Camino Real (The Royal Highway) stretching from the oldest, San Diego de Alcala in the south up to San Francisco Solanno, the only Mission founded after Mexico's Independence from Sprain. The Missions were founded by Father Juniper Serra, a Franciscan friar. They were founded not only to convert the local native Americans to Christianity; they gave Spain a foothold in California.

Mission San Juan Capistrano was known as the Jewel of the Missions because of The Great Stone Church. Renowned Mexican architect and stonemason Isidoro AguĂ­lar designed the church and supervised the Ahachamai (Juaneno) Indians who built it. Laid out in the shape of a cross, it had a dome with six vaults and a campanile (bell tower) 37 meters high. Construction of the "Great Stone Church" began in 1797, and reportedly required the participation of the entire Ahachamai labor force. Finished in 1806, the church was the largest and most beautiful church on the West Coast of California, and earned the Mission the nickname The Jewel of the Missions. The Great Stone Church was destroyed in an earthquake which also took the lives of 40 natives, including two young boys who were ringing the bells, in 1812. Restoration work began in 1987 to prevent further damage to the beautiful ruins.

When I'd visited the Mission in the past, like most people and photographers I fell in love with the gardens, the romance and serenity. There's a reason why this is a favorite location for wedding photographers. The downside is that, like most favorite locations, everyone basically takes the same shots. The Moorish fountains with the lily pads and koi, the one corner of the courtyard draped with bougainvillea, the barracks from afar with the gardens in the foreground. I got some great photos on the last time I visited (of the same things everyone else photographs), but unfortunately they were with an older digital camera and the file quality just isn't there. On this trip the gardens were lovely as always, but whether it was just the wrong time of day and the light wasn't right or I was in the wrong mood, I just wasn't feeling it. So keeping my stock portfolio in mind I challenged myself to take a new look and capture beautiful images of things that other people weren't. That apparently was the right thing to do as most of the images I submitted were accepted by my agency (there are a few more in my website gallery - click on the photo above). It's a good reminder to revisit places with a fresh eye - every time I go back to a favorite location I see something new.

But I still need to go back and do those gardens justice with a real camera!

Nothing after the jump.

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