Tag: spiritual


It is easy to enjoy photography, but sometimes, it is much less easy to feel like I am serving any higher purpose than just satisfying my own desires. A quasi-family member of mine (back in China, this relative certainly had a title, but “brother’s brother-in-law” is the best I can find in English) will soon be leaving as a photojournalist for a non-profit organization and I wanted to send a note of encouragement.

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching you develop photographically. You have certainly taken the fast track — you do know that is always the more painful option, right 🙂 — and jumped in with everything you have.

It is easy, as photographers, to doubt the “spirituality” of what we do. Indeed, there is a time to put down the camera and remove the glass barrier between you and the people, but there is so much more to this job, so much that truly is a spiritual sacrifice to the Lord.


There are many aspects of photography, many different paths down which it might lead. My own path is a journey in pursuit of reality, or “true reality” as I like to call it (though I know how redundant that sounds), and with the potential of photography to freeze a moment in time, “reality” is indeed a common pursuit in photography, but not the “true reality” or the spiritual reality which lies behind, through, and all around that surface-level reality. I heard a quote that really seemed to be attempting to bridge the gap between the surface reality and the deeper and wider reality.

In the biographical documentary about James Nachtwey, War Photographer, Nachtwey said, “It’s more difficult to get publications to focus on issues that are more critical, that do not provide people with an escape from reality, but attempt to get them deeper into reality, to be concerned about something much greater than themselves.”


I have been challenged by War Photographer, a documentary film about the “anti-war” photographer James Nachtwey. As it points out, though he may have started out with at least a partial desire for the travel and adventure, he has become something of an anomaly: he is a quiet and hopeful photographer, who believes his photography can make a difference, even in such overwhelming issues as war, poverty, hunger, and disease.

He says in the film, “We must look at it, we’re required to look at it, we’re required to do what we can. If we don’t, who will?”


I just read an excellent interview with Ami Vitale by The Adventure Life. The interview, thankfully, did not focus on gear or the technical side of photography, but instead gave us a good idea of who Ami Vitale is, how she works, how she survives, and a great feel for how she covers the stories.

Is objectivity an illusion? What does objectivity mean to you? Is it something journalists should strive for? Why or why not?
[Ami Vitale said…] “Yes, I believe objectivity is an illusion but I also believe that there are a multitude of viewpoints and that no one “Truth” exists. I believe that unless we understand and give voice to these perspectives, reason remains veiled. Ignorance in each other’s stories leads us to assume we know them. It allows us to maintain perceptions of differences based on our own preconceived notions.”


Serving to a Fault,
Defaulting to Service.
A life spent striving to be spent
Poured out as an offering.

A farm girl caught in a city life,
Primal simplicity wasted not
On the severed souls she helped.
O, that we too could find simpleness.

That we have,
In the picture of love among us,
Like the servant farmer before her,
The daughter’s incense rises above.


Minor White, neither some funky musical chord nor a new character for Clue, was indeed a very well known photographer…though I will not pretend I knew that even a few months ago. However, I was immediately caught by a quote of his: “I photograph things for what they are and for what else they are.”

So true. How many times have we just shot and later realized we caught more than we initially thought? Or how many times have we realized there was more to a photo than met the eye, when it had that extra something? It seems Minor White just took this realization and made it a purposeful pursuit in his photography, to not only take the photo seen on the surface, but to attempt to capture that which is beyond the superficial layer of the photo.


Travel Photographer Rick Sammon wrote why he thinks we are so drawn to sunsets and sunrises. His meaning is our draw as humans, but being a photographer, he especially means why we are drawn visually as photographers. He proposes, with affirmation from a RIT professor of fine art, we experience an exhilaration from millions of years ago, passed down through nature to us, meaning the exhilaration of the hunt (which would be at sunrise or sunset, just ask the hunters among us) naturally draws us to the sunrise and sunset time of day.

Fascinating. I will have to respectfully disagree. Not that I am the authority, but it seems to me the reason is staring us in the face. It may sound overly simplified, but do we not like sunsets and sunrises because they are beautiful?


Finally, the kind of photo I have been looking for. I have been trying to capture the spiritual side of things. I am not talking about some visually appealing monks-in-a-temple shot, but the spiritual reality behind what we see with our eyes, and I am especially focused on the spiritual realm right there on the street and a part of everyday life. In a place like Thailand, it is everywhere, woven into every part of life.