A Photographer's Muse

by Rachel Ehnert, Communications Specialist for Weld County

When Gracie Marquez and her Greeley Photo Club decided that they needed a new, exciting spot to photograph around Greeley, Gracie knew exactly the right place—the Weld County Courthouse. Gracie, a county employee with the Office of Emergency Management, knew Karen Salaz, the Court Administrator, and gave her a call to see if the photo club could have access to the building to take a few photos.

As luck would have it, Karen happened to be in the market for a photographer—as the courthouse’s centennial celebration was fast approaching, she wanted some current photos of the building to display. And who better to take these photos than a county employee and her Greeley Photo Club?

So, for a few weekends, Gracie and her team (which at the time consisted of about six members) set up shop in the courthouse, and got to work.

“It wasn’t easy,” Gracie said with a laugh. “For the first weekend, I don’t think I made it off the third floor. There is so much detail, so many beautiful aspects to capture—it was overwhelming.”

From the intricate carvings seen on seemingly every inch of the ceilings, to brass staircase railings, to the balustrades on each upper floor, which create an opening in the heart of the structure through which each floor is visible—there are so many beautiful aspects, it’s an artist’s dream.

“I didn’t even make it outside of the building!” Said Gracie. “It’s unbelievable how much within the courthouse is worthy of photographing.”

Some of Gracie’s favorite aspects to capture, however, were the towering stained glass windows and the stately marble staircases before them. When the time of a day is just right, she said, these windows illuminated the entire interior of the building with warm and plentiful colored light—no artificial lighting needed. In fact, 90% of her photos taken at the courthouse were taken exclusively with natural lighting.

Perhaps her favorite part of the experience, however, had nothing to do with taking photos, or the lighting, or the beauty of the building—it had everything to do with the history.

“There was a moment in which I was sitting in a jury box, photographing a courtroom from the perceptive of the jury, and I had to pause,” Gracie recalled. “Suddenly I was aware of one hundred years of court proceedings, and of how many lives had been shaped right there in that room. The history was so real, I could feel it all around.”

Certainly, Gracie’s pictures did this history justice—her photos were so impressive that they are now on display at the Centennial Library in Greeley, and will remain on display there until they are moved to the courthouse for its celebration event on June 30th.

Since the Greeley Photo Club’s two trips out to the courthouse, their membership has grown to nearly 40 members. They hope in the future to return to the courthouse to capture any and all of the beautiful details they missed in those two weekends.

“If Karen will have us, we’d love to come back to the courthouse,” said Gracie. “I could spend weeks in there, taking pictures. It’s so beautiful.”