Richard Silver, the artist profiled in Untapped Cities’ 2015 article about his “Vertical Churches” project, has taken his stunning digital photography on a unique journey around the world.
Silver, a former real estate executive from Manhattan, is currently jet-setting through South America via a program called “RemoteYear.” The program facilitates yearlong trips for 50-80 professionals and freelancers, taking care of booking and workspace to optimize productivity and pleasure for the lucky travelers selected to join in the adventure. He has been continuing his “Vertical Churches” project while on the road.
Iglesia De Los Capuchinos Cordoba, Argentina
“Vertical Churches” utilizes panoramas in a particularly innovative way. Silver’s church ceiling photos are actually combinations of 6 to 10 photographs, woven together to create a whole image that actually does justice to the scope and majesty of the architecture. New York City is home to a great deal of stunning churches and cathedrals, and Silver’s work is a tribute to them.
“The way it all started was sort of a fluke,” he said of the project. “One day in New York I was walking around taking photos and I walked into a church and was amazed at the beauty of the ceiling and started to take some shots. I then started to take a panorama of the church in a vertical way. Once I worked on the photos in Photoshop I was very surprised at the quality and the angle that I achieved.”
Basilica Nuestra de la Piedad, Buenos Aires, Argentina
His trip started in Mexico City on January 7th, and so far he has traveled extensively in South America. In July, he will fly to Europe, starting in the Czech Republic and moving on to Spain, Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia, which will be his last destination before he returns to his native New York.
“In Europe, there are more Gothic style churches, but in South America there are some Baroque and many Spanish Colonial styles,” he said, adding that he does not favor one style over another. His main challenge is actually being able to take the photos at all. “If they are open and they allow me to take my photos, that is the style I appreciate,” he said.
Cathedral of Salta, Argentina
Silver sees the world from a different perspective than most. He began photographing New York City skyscrapers while still working in real estate in Manhattan, and his photos soon received recognition, especially for his use of techniques like time-slice and tilt-shift.
Since he began, Silver has photographed over 150 churches and has visited over 75 countries. His experiences as a traveler often inform his art. As part of RemoteYear, he has already visited twelve cities in ten countries, and has captured each through his camera lens. He is the only photographer of this year’s 75 participants.
Silver’s work has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and he has become an established landscape photographer, noted for his ability to capture popular tourist destinations in innovative ways.
Often suffused with color, warmth, and saturation, his distinct photographs manage to capture a liveliness often lost by photographers with less of an eye for drama. This exuberance seems to extend to his views on the world.
After all, RemoteYear is a uniquely off-the-beaten-path program, even for an established traveler. “My intention with this blog is to prove to an audience that someone of my age, any age, can still accomplish amazing things and hopefully inspire YOU to do the impossible too,” he wrote on his website. “Life is all about taking risks, so follow me on the riskiest adventure yet.”
Iglesia De Los Capuchinos de Cordoba, Argentina
Over the course of his journeys, he has gained a greater appreciation for the art of travel itself. “By understanding more of where I have been, I appreciate the world more as I continue to travel,” he said. “I hope this year is just the beginning of what my future holds for me, to continue to travel without actually having a real home anywhere in particular.”
To see a church’s ceiling from the perspective captured in Silver’s photographs, you would have to reel around in a circle while tilting your head as far back as you can, or you could lie down on the floor. Either of these requires a change from the conventionally upright position many of us find ourselves in constantly, looking straight ahead or at the ground and never noticing all the beauty above us and beyond our inner worlds.
Silver’s photographs and his journey are testaments to looking out at all the color and beauty in the manmade and natural worlds that surround us, even (or especially) if that brings us outside of our comfort zones.
Next, check out the oldest known photograph of NYC is not what you think and Then and Now: Alfred Steiglitz’ photograph “The Glow of Night” and the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. Follow Silver’s journey here.