During my Iceland trip, I visited the Hallgrímskirkja church. This Lutheran church is located in the center of downtown Reykjavik. It is a very popular tourist destination.
I arrived at the church just before the doors opened at 9 am. When the church opened, I entered with about 25 other people. I saw it was going to be difficult to capture photographs of the interior of the church without having to contend with a lot of people in the frame. So, I decided to take the elevator up to the bell tower for the aerial view of downtown Reykjavik.
I enjoyed taking a number of pictures from the tower. It's a good thing that I visited the church first thing in the morning, because it wasn't long before it became very crowded. When I first entered the church, I thought that 25 visitors was a lot and that I could patiently wait for the scene to clear. But, that was not to be. The church became more crowded with every passing minute. Before long, at least 100 people were in the church at any given time.
The only way to get up to the bell tower is by elevator. Despite the $9 charge to use the elevator, by 9:30am there were at least 75 people waiting in line to take the elevator up to the bell tower. The elevator only holds 5 or 6 people, so people were waiting 30 to 45 minutes to go up to the tower.
I came back to the church later in the morning and it was even more crowded. I returned in the middle of the afternoon and it was worse.
So, I decided to talk with someone who worked at the church. I explained that I photograph a lot of churches--and that I was finding it impossible to take pictures inside the church with all the tourists. I asked if it would be possible for me to meet someone after the church closed--so that I could get a few pictures of the interior without anyone in the frame. To my surprise, my request was granted!
I came back to the church at closing (5 pm) and was permitted to shoot for 10 or 15 minutes with private access. That was sufficient time for me to get the bigger views of the interior of the building. I was able to capture pictures of the ceiling, sanctuary and pipe organ during the day--even with the crowd.
Later that night, I went back to the church for pictures of the exterior during the blue hour. The crowd was far worse than it was inside the church. Just when it looked like it was going to be impossible to get any pictures (people kept standing directly in front of my lens), I captured this image:
These pictures were taken on a cold weekday in February. I would hate to see how crowded this location is in the summer.