Look closer. Pay attention to what is all around you, every day. Don’t just stop at the exterior.

You never know what might happen if, one day, you look at familiar surroundings in a brand new way.

That’s what happened to local photographer Steven Hyatt.

One day, while standing in the Unitarian Church on Archdale Street, he realized that the historic churches of Charleston contained a wealth of amazing sights to see… and they were everywhere, all over town. Colors, patterns, intricate details: the same stuff that draws us to art.

Wheels started turning inside his head.

The former philosophy and religious studies major turned artist (Hyatt specializes in large prints for fine arts clients at Imaging Arts Gallery) wanted to show the rest of us what he saw in these churches.

Another book about churches in the Holy City might be nice for the gift shop, but Hyatt didn’t want to share a history lesson, he wanted to share his awe and amazement.

Solution: HDR (High Dynamic Range). Take multiple exposures of the same image, mix them well in post-processing, and voilà: rich lights and darks and bright bursts of color, far beyond what most of us are familiar with in a photograph.

You’d think that the abundance of churches in the Holy City would be sufficient to keep even the speediest shutterbug occupied for quite some time but Hyatt has already expanded his vision beyond the Ashley and the Cooper.

So long, Churches of Charleston. Hello, Churches of America.

Okay, so the former had a nice alliterative zing to it, but we’re all for the latter if it means more of these sumptuous feasts for the eyes.

And as if that wasn’t enough, fellow photographer Diana Deaver has recently been stirring his imagination with tales of faraway ancient Romanian sacred spaces. “I don’t think I would necessarily expand it into Churches of the World at that point, but who knows? This is what I enjoy and quite frankly, I choose not to limit myself.”

Reach for the heavens, Steven.


Story by: Jason A. Zwiker
Photos by: Steven Hyatt (photo of Steven Hyatt by Diana Deaver)

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