Photography as a Spiritual Discipline

“You see more, or at least look harder, when you’re holding a camera,” photographer and pastor, the Rev. Steve Little reflects on the year he committed to take and share a photo a day.

The Rev. Steve Little takes beautiful photos and shares them on social media. But the Virginia pastor remembers a time when his photos always turned out blurry, due in part to a genetic tremor in his hands. In an effort to develop his skills, Little committed to take a photo a day and share it. Little says, in retrospect, it’s beautiful thing to see God’s presence in these photos of everyday life.

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Script:
(Photos and Commentary by the Rev. Steve Little)

I didn’t start out to begin a spiritual discipline. I kind of realized I was in the middle of one as a result of trying to learn how to take better pictures.

I set out to take one photograph a day and to post it.

I had been appointed to a little country church and the county fair was very important to people here. There was an expectation that the pastor would do something to enter in the county fair. About the same time I was given a nice camera and I’d always been interested in photography but my pictures would always turn out fuzzy and blurry. So, the desire to learn how to take a decent picture is kind of what started things.

I would look for something beautiful or terrible or something unique or ubiquitous in every day.

I had a lot of photographs of the sky, the stars and the moon, landscapes, still lifes, animals and candid portraits. My church has a bell tower. And I was able to see the day moon, right through the bell tower That’s a favorite. And there’s another one. A landscape when I was on top of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the fog is filling the valleys below. It was a very wet year and there were always lots of mushrooms. And I discovered that if I placed the camera just right I could put really interesting things beside mushrooms. I took some photographs at a Mennonite wedding, friends of the bride and groom, and I was just real pleased with how that picture turned out.

Taking this time I realized turned out to be a very prayerful experience, that when I began each day hoping to see something beautiful that in a way I was inviting God to be present with me in this process.

I would recommend that everybody find something to do each day as a spiritual discipline, and to realize that most days are not gonna feel inspirational. For me when the inspiration came was after it was done, looking back at what I had done the previous month or the previous quarter. The sense of wonder and gratitude came to me with it.

God had always been present, and just by me taking the time to realize that God was already there in that gave me a sense of assurance of God’s presence and comfort that energized, I think, everything I did during that year.

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The Rev. Steve Little is the pastor of Trinity (Catlett) United Methodist Church in Cattlet, Virginia and Wesleyan United Methodist Church in Calverton, Virginia.

You can view the entire slideshow and follow the Steve Little on flickr. 

Little completed the 365 Project in 2011. In his current daily spiritual discipline, Little spends 20 minutes a day transcribing the Bible. The exercise keeps motor skills sharp while setting aside a committed time each day to be with God.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Joe Iovino, [email protected].
This video was first posted on December 19, 2019.

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