God and Cameras

When asked during class what piece of technology makes me feel closer to God, it took me a little while to come up with anything. The question caught me off guard and I had never thought about anything like it before. The answer I gave was my camera, not necessarily because I actually meant it, but because I could make it sound good and we could move on to the next person. After class was over, I couldn’t help but think more about the question and what my answer really was. Eventually (and by that I mean about 10 minutes ago when I started doing this blog) I came across an article titled “How my camera helped me re-focus on my faith” and knew that my camera wasn’t actually a bogus answer. In the article, Jim Grover recalls his experiences while shadowing Rev Kit Gunasekera. Grover shadowed Gunaskera with his camera for a year and he said that it ended up having two outcomes. The first outcome was his photo essay, Of Things Not Seen. The second outcome was that this project reconnected him with his faith. By shadowing Gunasekera for a year, not only did Grover spend a lot of time in the church, but he spent hours and hours outside the church seeing God’s work through Gunaskera.

I think that I connected so much with this article because I am similar to Grover. I grew  up in the church, but have never been an avid attendee. I’m not quite a “Christmas Day Churchgoer” as he described himself, but I definitely do not attend regularly. I may not be shadowing a Reverand anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot see God through my photos. I love taking photos of nature, and I think that a lot of times nature shots are able to show us more about God’s creation than we ever see with our own eyes. One of my favorite examples of this is the photo below. I took this image behind Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Kilbourne, IL. Just looking out over the pasture I thought that it was a beautiful scene.

Church Pasture - Joey Seabaugh
Church Pasture – Joey Seabaugh

It wasn’t until I went back to look at the photo that I could see all of the amazing details that my camera had managed to capture. In the photo, you can see so many more colors and small details that I didn’t know were there. My favorite part about this photo is the little dust particles flying around on the left side. Mt. Zion uses this photo as a screensaver or song break during all of their services now because for them it shows a little piece of God right in their backyard. That is how God uses photography, at least for me.

There are tons of articles out there about using photography to grow closer to God. I did not read through many of them, but one of them brought up a book called, “Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice.”

Eyes of the Heart Cover
Eyes of the Heart Cover

Unfortunately, I do not own the book or have any experience with it, but based solely on the title, I feel like I would agree with a lot of what the book has to say. Photography required a lot of contemplative thought throughout the entire process in order to get the photo that you really want. I think that Christians can easily use photography to think about God, especially in the editing room. While looking at a photo, you can think about where God is seen and what you can do to show that. In my church pasture photo, the dust particles and the lens flare were where I saw God, so I made sure I left those in. Maybe I will eventually get the book and see what the author has to say, but for now. 

Maybe I will eventually get the book and see what the author has to say, but for now I am going to continue seeing God through my photos any way that I like. 

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