Photography Philosophy

bird-head_4213-hdrIn my inaugural post when I launched my new website, if you read it, I mentioned I would talk about my beliefs as a follower of Jesus Christ. For my second post, I thought I would do exactly that. I look at this post as, more or less, a description of the philosophy behind my photography. It’s the main reason photography is a passion for me…besides purely enjoying the beauty and art in nature.

The pictures I take are a reflection of God as our Creator and Sustainer. The Bible’s account of God’s creation of the world tells us that He created us in His image and left His fingerprints evident in His creation (Genesis 1 and Romans 1:20). With God as the master artist, my pictures attempt to show His glory, His beauty, and His majesty, through His creation.

When the average adult does what it takes to make ends meet, today’s world can be a busy workaholic place. Of course this is seen as being a responsible adult. It is true you ought to take care of your family and make provision for life in today’s money-centered civilization. However, we have perverted responsibility into an excuse to grab and scrape and claw for as much money and power and possessions as we can get. The truths about our Creator and His creation, which we so often miss while trying to run our hectic lives, are applicable to all generations through out the whole world. I speak here, though, specifically of most of the United States because that is all my limited experience encompasses. With out opening another can of worms, my point here is that the time consuming, hectic existence this accepted lifestyle has created and how we get stuck in our circumstances and can’t see anything else.

Americans seem to understand that we exist for so much more than the monotony of the day to day life we have caged ourselves in. Every day I see advertisements for vehicles, vacations, etc., that say they can get you away from it all and give you some time to rest and relax and have some peace of mind. It has become more and more popular to get out and have an extreme experience in nature. Mountain biking, kayaking, backpacking, camping and many other extreme sports and outdoor experiences are the trendy thing to do these days. What is our draw towards these experiences?

For some the draw is the adrenalin rush, an attempt to conquer nature and feel alive, in an otherwise emotionless existence. For others it is the chance to relax and experience the beauty of nature. For many, as it is for me, it is both. Americans are searching in the right places; they just don’t know what they are searching for.

It is right in our faces when we get out and experience nature. When I see the beauty and complexity of nature and wildlife I can’t help but wonder how it got the way it is. It takes great faith to believe that all of creation just evolved from a big bang and a primordial ooze. Those explanations fall short of the grandiose complexity of life and all of its intricate workings. It also takes faith to believe that one all powerful Creator masterfully designed every minuscule detail, but it makes more sense to me.

Years ago, I was sitting on my mom’s back porch in Orlando, Florida, one late evening, enjoying the sounds and sights of the tropical-like woods behind the thick Bermuda grass of her back yard. While I sat there a frog, no larger than a small child’s fist, was eyeing the bugs flying around in the light cast through the sliding glass door that led to the porch from the family room in the back of the house. One bug finally landed not too far in front of the frog. The frog watched the bug for a second and then launched its tongue and in less than the next second the bug had been devoured. The frog knew how to do this from instinct.

Not a frog, I realize, but it was the best I had from when my mom still lived in FL.

As simple as a frog eating a bug seems, it is still entirely too complicated to just be happenstance. There are a lot of scientific explanations for why organisms have the instinct to eat and how they are supposed to do it. Yet, it only takes the explanation of a couple parts of the systems that are involved in how the frog eats, the muscles and stickiness of the it’s tongue, to convince me that it was created that way. There has to be a purposeful design and a purposeful designer behind it. Order can not come from chaos. To put it another way, it is harder for me to believe that the ordered design of the frog came from the big bang theory of evolution than it would be for me to believe that it came from an omnipotent God who created it purposely with the instinct to eat that bug exactly the way that it did (There will be more, Lord willing, branching from this topic, addressing animal adaptations to their environments).

Romans 1:20 tells us, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (NIV) This verse seems very straight forward. From about verse 18 to the end of chapter one Paul, who wrote this letter to the Romans, is giving reasons why there is no excuse to disobey God and not see His qualities which are made known in nature.

I am not making any statements based on years of scientific study. I am not even pretending to know the claims of evolution or creation scientists. I have only made minor observances on my own. I do not have any prestigious degrees and although I am an educated man, I am no scholar. I am not saying that I can prove anything about a Creator God who artistically designed creation.

rappelling-001All my life I have been presented with two main ways that life received existence: evolution and creation. I am simply saying that when I am in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, at an elevation of about 9,000 feet or so, at the top of a climb looking down before I rappel back down into a valley filled with beautiful, fall colored trees and a long winding river and a deer wading in the water, I take it on faith that God created all that. I am merely stating that what I have observed in my extreme (and not so extreme) experiences in nature have not lead me to believe that it all came together from a big bang and then evolved into what it is now. Instead I see that beauty and complexity and believe that it had to have been designed that way on purpose. What I see is pictures of God. I see God’s fingerprints in His creation, as described in Romans 1:20 and by faith I believe it to be true. Consequently, our busy workaholic lives are no excuse to not know that there is more purpose to life than the day to day rat race we run.

I am sure most people are familiar with the adage, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” Sometimes we need help to see what is right in front of us.

Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NIV) The King James Version of chapter 46 is titled, “The presence of God in calamity.” The chapter reminds the Israelites, way back in the days when God anointed kings to fight for His chosen nation, that God was with them and He was their strength and refuge even amongst war and turmoil. We can apply this to our busy lives today. God is still with us now, even amongst wars, political strife, work and every day life. All we need to do is stop, and realize that He is here.

I see my photography as a way of helping people see the Creator in the creation. My desire is to help people be able to take time to be still, stop and smell the roses, and hopefully have the chance to experience God’s creation as I do and through it see God’s beauty and character, His eternal power and divine nature.

If you are like many people who never have the chance to get out, see creation and experience it for themselves because of disability, illness or infirmity, my hope and prayer is that the experiences God has allowed me to capture through my photography will be sufficient for you to see God’s character and point you to Him as your Creator. If you have just never taken the chance to get out, my prayer is that my photography will encourage you to actually take a break from your busy life. There are innumerable things in nature that almost any one can do, from the most extreme to the extremely laid back. If you are like others who are getting out and experiencing nature firsthand, my prayer for you is that the talent God has given me to celebrate His creation with pictures will inspire you to further your adventures and look deeper into the artistry and design behind what you see during your experiences. Finally, I do realize that there are some people who completely loathe nature and being in it. I hope and pray that you can still see the beauty, complexity and artistry that God has purposely ordered in His creation.