In the course of our day-to-day lives, the bridges we cross often go unnoticed. Perhaps it is an overpass that leads you over a highway, or an unremarkable span crossing a small stream. In the metaphorical sense we travel over bridges all the time, making decisions that can carry us from one avenue of possibility to new paths entirely. With these ideas in mind, here’s a journey through my archives of bridge art photography.
I have spent many years of my life in places with waterways to cross, and I have enjoyed photographing several notable and beautiful bridges. When traveling, bridges often stand out as particularly photogenic landmarks in foreign landscapes. Bridge art can bring to mind the symbolism of transition, change, overcoming obstacles, or reaching across a divide.
Endless Inspiration at the Golden Gate
Photographing bridges is a fun way to study their structural elements. Steel, stone or concrete details become even more interesting when juxtaposed with their surroundings, human figures, or atmospheric details like the swirling fog that often engulfs the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.
One of my favourite angles for creating Golden Gate Bridge art photos is from below, at the Fort Point National Historic Site. Here I always find interesting abstract bridge details and can play with the sense of scale the bridge span overhead provides.
Linking Cities by the Bay
Joining Oakland and San Francisco is the Bay Bridge, which I have photographed a few times in many years of taking the ferry to and from ‘the city’ and spending time along the Embarcadero waterfront.
It is a stately suspension bridge at one end with cantilever structures at the other. The nighttime photo is from a waterfront hotel, as an evening light show illuminates the bridge cables and water below.
Winnipeg Bridge Art Studies
My current home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba is on the Canadian prairie where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. As a result this is a city of many bridges. Many neighbourhoods are nearly inaccessible without crossing at least one span. The most recognizable and visually inspiring of these is the Esplanade Riel Footbridge crossing the Red River in downtown Winnipeg.
Different compositions are easy to find here. A new framing of the suspension cables is revealed when taking a few steps in either direction.
Can you spot the restaurant on the bridge? This is the only bridge in North America with a restaurant, and I’ve enjoyed a meal or two there while overlooking the river.
The bridge art photography possibilities at this location are made even more interesting as the light changes with the seasons and time of day.
Bridges from Darkness to Light
There is a rather unique set of “bridges” in Winnipeg at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. I enjoy the abstract photography opportunities presented by the alabaster ramps that lead visitors from darkness to light and up through a vast interior space. Moving across these illuminated connecting ramps offers a beautiful physical and symbolic experience.
Western River Crossings
Further west in Canada, crossing the Kootenay River in Nelson, British Columbia, there is a local landmark known as the “Big Orange Bridge”. These photos are from a snowy road-trip through the forested mountains of interior B.C., and I can confirm, it is indeed a big orange bridge.
Art Deco Details Downtown
In Vancouver, British Columbia, the Burrard Street bridge may be a familiar landmark to locals and visitors alike. Anyone visiting False Creek and the nearby downtown attractions of the city is likely to cross over or under this bridge at some point.
A Mix of Old and New, Bridging Time
While traveling in the summer of 2018, I collected many bridge art photos in Italy and San Marino. There was a fascinating mix of modern and ancient styles. In the tiny mountaintop nation of San Marino, I marvelled at the arching stone spans in castle walls, bridging the way from tower to tower. In Venice, there were an endless variety of ornate steps over the canals. While boating along the Amalfi Coast, there were dramatic cliffside bridges and beautiful natural arches over aquamarine blue water.
Around the world, over and under, we move across and through the avenues that bridges provide. Linking neighbourhoods, cities and landscapes, bridges are often striking in their structural beauty, making them a wonderful fine art travel photography subject.
Thank you for joining me on this rambling journey through the archives. I hope my bridge art photography has brought some new perspectives on the bridges your life may bring you to cross.
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