I See a Church….I See a Steeple!
It’s that time of year when we are all trying to find unique and interesting gifts, and I have the PERFECT suggestion: Steeples of Texas by Melissa Macatee.
My dear friend, and fellow Texan, Melissa Macatee, is an accomplished photographer, and has just published her first book Steeples of Texas, a visual journey of over 70 church steeples throughout the Great State of Texas. Melissa and I have known each other for years, beginning when our sons played Little League baseball. We volunteer together as members of Crystal Charity Ball, and she has captured amazing images of my children through their various extra-curricular activities. I’m so proud of her accomplishment with Steeples of Texas!
Q: Melissa, when did your love of photography begin?
A: I always have a camera in hand, becoming my passion when my daughter was playing soccer in 5th grade. A friend loaned us a digital SLR, and I was hooked. Opportunities began coming my way, and I haven’t stopped in 14 years. I find photography relaxing and love to capture a moment in time, whether it’s three generations of women in a formal portrait or an exciting sports moment.
Q: Tell me about your book project.
A: Steeples of Texas, has been a personal project on my to do list for over 10 years. I kept a running spreadsheet of churches from across Texas with interesting finials. Two years ago I began taking the photos and doing some research, planning out routes across Texas. Occasionally, while photographing, I would meet church members and they were so passionate about their church home. When it was all said and done, I visited over 200 churches, and the hardest part was whittling the selection down to just over 100 churches featured in Steeples of Texas. Photographs include a close up the steeple and a wide angle shot showing the entire church, all accompanied by a narrative. At times the book reads more like brief history of Texas and its people. My hope is people will peruse the pictures, find a place that speaks to them, and learn a little about the amazing people who have shaped the State of Texas.
Q: Tell me about a couple of cities you visited that you particularly enjoyed.
A: Wow, to narrow it down to just a few cities is a tough one, each town or city, large or small was amazing. Being a native of Dallas and already familiar with Austin, Houston and East Texas, the biggest surprise was the Big Bend area and its beautiful landscapes. Something you have to see to believe. Marathon and the Gage Hotel, Balmorhea and its hot springs, were probably the most fun, unexpected spots.
Another trip that began in Corpus Christi, took us through Vattman and Linn ended up in the Rio Grande Valley, filled with so many palm trees. I had no idea driving down the highway near El Paso that I would see mountains (remember I am a Dallas girl, anything taller than me is a mountain). I also loved the open land of the Panhandle near Amarillo, which I also enjoyed on the drive from Cisco to Albany, just west of Ft. Worth.
One of my favorite experiences was on a Sunday in Albany, I wanted so badly to get a good photo of the Presbyterian church, however it is surrounded by trees so I couldn’t really get a good shot, and while I was there a number of young families were gathered outside. All of the men were dressed in pressed white shirts, blue jeans, boots and cowboy hats, as were all the little boys. So Texas! It was just a moment I will never forget, and I didn’t take a photo because I didn’t want to disturb anyone. Sometimes you just have to take a mental photograph to keep for yourself.
The whole project was a true Family Effort! When I traveled with George, my husband, we had a ball going through the small towns, and he patiently stopped whenever I wanted him to so I could take a photo. My son Stuart has his Dad’s directional sense, and on one trip after a stop in Gonzalez for a quick Texas history lesson and a photo with the famous “Come and Take it” cannon, we made a stop in Shiner at the brewery, which he loved. He helped me find a shorter route to Panna Maria and Cestohowa. We had quite an adventure! Even my daughter would report back after spotting a small church on back roads on her trips back and forth to Camp Mystic in the Hill Country.
I learned that sometimes you need a trip without a schedule to really appreciate the unexpected treasures you find along the way, whether that is a road-side fruit stand, a Longhorn in bluebonnets or a cool sunset. Everyone is in such a hurry to get somewhere, we are missing the simple pleasures that make places special.
Q: Best piece of advice to someone who is interested in photography?
A: Do it because you enjoy it! Photograph what you like and make it your own. Everyone sees things differently, and that is what makes the world an interesting place.
Q: Where can we buy your book?
A: Currently the book is available on www.steeplesoftexas.com. In Dallas, at For Heavens Sake, Logos, St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange and Unmistakably Molly are carrying copies. In Ft. Worth, Lawrence’s is now carrying Melissa’s book! Shop Local! It is also on Amazon: search for Melissa Macatee.
If you are interesting in more Texas-themed gift ideas, click here! xoxo
Mary, The Curious Cowgirl