Beautiful Photos of Confessionals, Seeped in Guilt

May 20, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

Whether or not these photos instantly trigger flashbacks of your repressed, guilt-ridden Catholic youth, there’s something about Billie Mandle’s Reconciliation that’s both sad and quite lovely. Hoping to capture the “relationship between the tangible structure of the confessional and the intangible ritual of the space,” Mandle, who is a Catholic, began photographing confessional booths all around the U.S. using only the available light and long-exposure.

Her shots depict the small, dingy, dirt-stained booths — from the perspective of the penitent — in a really beautiful and mysterious light, emanating her feeling that when inside, “you’re surrounded by the traces of past confessions.” A fresh, artistic portrayal of the physical embodiment of Catholic guilt and dread? Should Pope “Modern Art Lover” Francis be placing bids?