I fell in love with photography when I was nine years old when my dad gave me my first camera – a Brownie Starflash with pop in blue flash bulbs. It was the beginning of what would become a life-long love of seeing life through a camera lens. Squinting one eye and focusing with the other on the vision within the frame as I looked through the viewfinder. It was if I was transported to another world. Everything around me faded away as I escaped into the picture.
I graduated from the Brownie camera to a Nikon with interchangeable lenses and learned about f-stops and shutter speed, depth of field, composition and lighting and fell more in love with the art of photography. I remember learning how to develop film and burn images in a darkroom in the basement of the family I babysat for when I was 16. I loved the challenge of winding the undeveloped film on the reel in a pitch black darkroom, developing the film, then gently agitating the sheet of photo paper in the developing tray and seeing the images come to life. It was like magic, and I was hooked!
I slowly began to realize that as I traipsed through the woods, walked by a stream or along a mountain path looking for that perfect shot, I was beginning to see God. Zooming in on the intricate patterns of flowers, or capturing the light streaming through the trees, He was showing me His majesty through my camera lens. My time out with my camera quickly became my special time communing with my Heavenly Father, creator of all I was capturing on film.
God also brought healing in my life through photography. I was in a challenging place when I was in my late teens, battling severe rejection and depression. I felt uneasy around others but when I would grab my camera and head out to take pictures, I was able to escape into a peaceful and safe place. Just me, my Nikon and God. He began to show me that as I loved taking photos of beautiful things, He saw me as a beautiful thing. He revealed to me that when I saw myself as ugly or unlovable, as the world around me told me, it was like taking pictures with a smudged or out of focus lens. He saw me through a crystal clear lens as lovely and cherished. He showed me the beauty in things the world would easily discard. I just needed to focus differently, and He opened up hidden treasures all around me. Clicking the shutter became much more than capturing an image; it became a time of worship.
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
Romans 1:20 (NLT)
All these years later, holding a camera in my hand and capturing life through the lens still stirs something profoundly deep within my soul. His Spirit within me resonates with His creative grandeur each time I look through the viewfinder. I praise God He loves us so much He gave us such an exquisite environment in which to live. He could have easily created one type of landscape, flower, tree, bird, dog or person, all in black and white. Instead, he made a wide variety of scenic environments with thousands of each species, each a unique masterpiece, and all in amazing and vibrant Technicolor! Many times I am in awe and ask God, “How did you do that?” How can anyone look around them at the miracles of nature and people and not believe in God?
My prayer is others will take the time to see the often-unnoticed divine creativity surrounding them and within them. And when they don’t that perhaps they’ll see God in the photos I take whether it be a child’s face or a spectacular sunset, and be drawn to the One who made them.
For His Glory,