How Good Photography Reveals Beauty and Draws People to the Church
We live in a world where nearly everyone has access to a camera. It has never been easier to document and record our lives. With the click of a button, we can share the beauty of our faith with the world, a faith that is naturally beautiful on many different levels. Our human instinct to capture beauty is a direct reflection of God’s word when he saw all that he made and “found it very good.”
Photography matters in our world—and should matter to the Church—because it is the bridge or gateway of communication and storytelling. Statistics show that more and more people are visual learners, which shows that photography makes a difference. With the Instagram generation having a bigger impact in the world of communications and evangelization, taking a photo with purpose and reason can give someone a reason to stop, pause, and be curious as to what that photo can offer. Most importantly, it offers the story behind the photo.
Imagine if that same purpose and reason were applied to the way we approach photography within church communications. Here are five tips to help the photos you take leave a deeper impression.
Reflect on what you are trying to accomplish in a photo. It can be simple. Most photos are meant to capture a moment or a memory. This photo at the University of Washington’s Newman Center had the goal of showing adoration and some of the emotions behind the prayer. The peace in this photography was accomplished by the simplicity and central focus.
It’s not easy to replace time. Once you miss it, it’s not something you can get back. Capturing a moment at the right time can complete a story. Not only being at a place at the right moment, but also thinking literal time. Most photographers talk about the “Magic Hour” or “Golden Hour” for the best times to take photos—generally, the hour during sunrise or sunset. Capturing a photo during these hours will give you a light that is soft and directional. This photo of a sunset at a beach leans more towards a visual impact. The sun leads your eye through the photo starting from the light source and moving its way towards the truck, and then the fence. It leaves your audience curious; that curiosity feeds inspiration and impact.
Our human eyes naturally gravitate towards symmetry. It’s common for our eyes to look for lines or balance. The photo to the right is an example of symmetry. The person is centered and balanced in the photo. Naturally, without being aware of it, your mind is drawing a line down the middle of this photo. The way that this photo is composed lends it greater impact due to the open space and where the eyes are drawn.
Lighting adds that extra splash to something beautiful. It helps to break up the information you receive visually to move your eyes from one place to another. Not only can lighting control the direction your eyes travel, but it can also add depth, dynamic, and contrast, giving your photo different tones. This photo is already capturing the beauty of this cathedral, but the direction of light coming from one side of the room leads across the photo, making your eyes read the photo from left to right. The light from the back window adds more depth and contrast throughout the room.
This is all about your “why.” Why do you need a photo, why that moment? This photo to the right leaves you wondering. When you’re taking a photo or looking for a photo opportunity, try thinking about the elements you want to tell a story. In this photo, there are elements of people, Eucharistic Adoration, and the rural area. Those three elements leave our human nature looking for just little bit more behind the photo. A photo can bring out memories, people’s character, time, and life.
These are just a few reasons why photography matters. At One Secret Mission we strive for more elements like this to visually capture the beauty of the Church and our faith. We believe God created a natural calling in all of us to capture the moments of beauty we find in life, when he saw all that he made and said it was “very good”
This is a guest post from Bradley Santos, founder of One Secret Mission, a Catholic urban evangelistic street brand seeking to capture, create, and inspire the world through the intersection of photography and faith. Inspired by Saint Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists,” OSM hopes to develop a network of creatives, a photo resource for parishes and ministries, and an urban streetwear brand in order to share the beauty of the Catholic Church with the world. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.