Crossings Near & Far | Bridge Art Photography

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.

An abstract view of the Bixby Bridge with the coastline of Big Sur, California beyond
A friend crossing a bridge of driftwood over a creek at Oakura Beach, New Zealand

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.

The Golden Gate Bridge emerges from a blanket of summer fog as a sailboat passes beneath in a patch of sunlight

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.

Three abstract Golden Gate bridge detail views and one wide shot, from sunny days to misty morning light, studies in structure, light and shadow.

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.

The Granville Bridge in the foreground frames the art deco Burrard Street bridge beyond, Vancouver, B.C.

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.

A natural bridge over aquamarine water, seen on the Amalfi Coast, Italy
View of the bridge at Fiordo di Furore on the Amalfi Coast of Italy
A stone arch bridge in San Marino, overlooking the Italian countryside
View from below the modern Ponte della Costituzione, spanning the Grand Canal of Venice Italy
Graceful Venetian bridges arching over canals, Venice, Italy

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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Perchance to Dream | San Francisco, California

Most of the photographs I collect when visiting Fort Point, San Francisco are of the architecture and magical spaces between shadow and light created by the repeating motifs and angles of the Fort itself. Climbing the steep stairs to the top of the structure, one is rewarded with a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and this day was no exception.

I have seen this place at various times of day, in different seasons, all types of weather, and part of the what keeps bringing me back with my camera is the potential for dramatically framed, constantly shifting scenes. On this particular July afternoon, the fog had settled heavily along the water, and as I admired the form of the bridge vanishing into the mist, a pair of figures paused in just the right spot to unexpectedly add balance to the frame.

Bridge and fog, Fort Point, San Francisco

As I had been at that moment experimenting with the panoramic capabilities of my phone, I quickly captured this photo with the camera in hand, rather than risk losing the moment while switching to my DSLR. I did managed to grab a couple similar frames with the big camera afterward, but for me this image stands alone.

Minutes later, the couple had moved on, and the fog began to lift, giving way to a glorious sunny day and a large pod of humpback whales feeding beneath the bridge – those particular photos will get their own post – proving that one never knows just how fleeting a moment will be or what will come next!

Small prints of this photo are available in my Open Edition Black & White Prints – or discover more of this unique location in my Fort Point, San Francisco gallery.