A number of years ago, I picked up a camera and went looking for God in my neighborhood. Through my camera lens, I discovered a spiritual discipline for myself. Photography is not my profession, nor is it my hobby. Rather, the making of photographs is for me a form of prayer and meditation. As a raging extrovert, I am usually actively engaged in the world around me. Photography is a way that I distance myself enough to see what is happening. When I examine life through the eye of a camera, I am forced to step back, slow down, focus, and become deeply attentive to the situation. Looking through my viewfinder, I can’t allow myself to focus on simply what lies in the middle of the frame; I must explore the circumference, the corners and the edges in order to really see the entire situation.
As one who moves quickly, the art of photography does not come naturally to me. I must work at it. But I have discerned that photography is the work of my soul, not my ego, and I have learned the hard way that whenever my ego gets involved, it distorts the picture. Photography keeps me humble and often frustrated, but is an important metaphor (for the rest of my life. Photography has taught me to slow down, wait for the moment, and open myself up to the Spirit so that I may experience God in unexpected people and places.
Over the years, I have discovered that I can look for and find glimpses of the Holy through a camera lens, but I must be very respectful of what is found and seen. I don’t “take shots” and I don’t “capture the moment”. Rather, I enter into sacred relationship with the other, and with respect and permission, I make a portrait of what I see, and then I pray that my photograph will honor the essence of what my eye saw.
I have been amazed and awestruck by what I’ve seen and heard, and I have tried to be faithful in the renderingand interpretation. (In working on this book, I have become convinced that if we allow them, the poor can be our wisest teachers, the wounded can be our most powerful healers, and the oppressed can be our strongest liberators. I now know for certain that the last can be first, the despised can be loved, the outcast can be welcomed, the dead can be raised, and that which the world deems to be garbage can be made(or is?) holy if we are open to the unexpected grace of God.