Why Is Photography A Contemplative Practice?

Photography is a wonderful contemplative practice. The camera lens focuses on God’s presence.  We learn how to see with new eyes.  We see from our heart not our minds.  We begin to view the world through God’s eyes.

Grab your camera or cell phone.  Take a walk in your neighborhood.  Explore the paths of a local nature center.  Stroll through a small town on foot. 

Leave your worries, anxieties, fears, concerns at home.  They will still be there when you return from your quiet journey.  Decide to enjoy this special time.  And then let go of that too.

God is your lens.  What does the Divine want to reveal to you in the frame of the lens?  Don’t look for the picture.  The picture will find you. 

What captures your attention or peaks your interest? 

It is autumn.  Is it the pastel colors of the leaves on the trees?  Their foliage has begun to change color before they gently drop off and fall to the ground.

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Is it a church?  The old church is constructed of magnificent large stones.  You must capture its old fashioned splendor and beauty.  It reminds you of a church you once attended many years once ago.   

Is it a small pond?  The dark blue sky and cotton ball white clouds perfectly reflect on the surface of its calm waters.  It is difficult to discern where the water and the sky meet. 

Focus and snap your picture.  Zoom in if you must.  Alter your perspective.  Adjust your camera from portrait to landscape.

Crouch down and shoot upward.  Ascend the small hill and snap the photo as you look down upon the scene.   

Photography can be an act of silent worship.”[1] We rest in God’s presence that continues to surround us.  Each frame reveals what God wants us to relish.

“Practice is the key to developing any habit; it is the commitment of a lifetime to keep showing up.”[1] I must show up to my daily centering prayer practice.  A contemplative photography practice is no different. Each time I show up I am always amazed by the pictures God has framed for me.

I encourage you to check out Christine Valters Paintner’s book, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice to learn more about this delightful practice.

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[1] Christine Valters Paintner, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice, (Sorin Books):  2013

Go Further:

The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom by Christine Valters Painter

Spirituality in Photography: Taking pictures with deeper vision by Philip J Richter


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4 thoughts on “Why Is Photography A Contemplative Practice?”

  1. I agree.God is seen in His creation. Photography is catching that momentary beauty. There are times when my inner person, my spirit, is greatly moved by natural wonders or the simplicity of humanly created wonders. Many are silent monuments to people who have gone on before us, like the little white-steepled churches that dot town and countryside. We are so fortunate.

  2. “Photography is catching that momentary beauty.”

    Yes. That is what photography does. Thanks for your comments.

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