Shooting to the glory of God

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    Logan Lamar

    Hi everyone! It looks like it’s been a couple of weeks since anyone posted a question here… so I thought I’d ask one a bit deeper than why shoot in RAW as opposed to JPEG to listen to your insights. 🙂

    How do we, as followers of Christ who happen to enjoy really great photography, shoot “to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)? What does that mean or practically look like? I have a few thoughts and I’m doing a little research from some trusted sources on the Internet… but I want to throw the question out to you first.

    Looking forward to the discussion!


    David Frazer

    I love your question, Logan! Being a Christian photographer is not just about taking great pictures – it is about glorifying God. And when we take (and edit) pictures, that should be no exception. Our focus should be on Him Who created us in His image. I Corinthians 10:31 says, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

    Photography is an art, and for some a business as well, but it seems that in the minds of many “Christians” these days the arts are some kind of loop-hole in the Law of God. (I could say the same thing about business.) Our carnal relativistic culture has taught us that we can separate our religion and other aspects of our lives and live how we like, but that is certainly not what the Bible teaches!

    Ok, so obviously this applies to a lot more than photography, but to avoid getting distracted, here are a couple of practical thoughts I have had in my rather neutral genre of photography …

    As a real estate photographer, most often it does not make any apparent difference in the final product. I am hired to create photos that will attract and inform potential buyers. There are times, however when it does make a difference to how I shoot and how I conduct business. For example, in real estate everything happens on the weekends. Have I lost business because I don’t work on Sunday? Yes, though it is rare, and normally I can re-schedule for another day. Have I gained anything from this policy? I certainly haven’t gained any clients because of it, but I have gained a deeper relationship with Christ. This should of course be balanced with Romans 14:5-6 “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.”

    Another issue I often run into is the art in people’s homes. Some is not fit to be seen. And I believe it is my moral obligation before God to remove any potential stumbling block from those who may be viewing my photos, whether or not they know who took the picture. Sometimes that will change which angle I shoot a given space. Sometimes that is impossible and I must spend additional time in editing out or blurring things that should not be seen.

    I realise that real estate photography is far from being the most morally problematic genre, so I am looking forward to reading other people’s thoughts, too!

    Lydia Bennett

    Fantastic topic, Logan! It’s great to have these types of discussions and encourage one another in the Lord!

    I once heard a preacher ask this very question in context of 1 Corinthians 10:31. What does it mean to bring glory to God (even in mundane things like eating and drinking)? The preacher was saying that it means that in whatever I do, I give others the right opinion about Who I belong to. To do all in such a way that others have the right opinion of our God. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

    That really stuck with me, and so it immediately came to mind when I saw this topic.

    So, what does that look like practically for me as a photographer?

    There are three areas I’ve thought of as I was considering this:

    The purpose of my photography – should not be self-glorification but God-glorification. (John 3:30)

    Do I try to take an amazing photo so that people will think I’m an amazing photographer, or so they’ll see that God is an amazing Creator?

    Do I take pictures for my own elevation and fulfillment, or do I shoot to serve?

    Do I seek to become popular and gain a following on Social Media, or do I invite others to “magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3)?

    The content of my photography – should not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, but demonstrate a life surrendered to the Spirit (Romans 13:14, Galatians 5:16-17, Romans 8:12-13).

    A word that gets mentioned a lot here on Lenspiration is “intentional”. I think that when we are intentional in the content of our photography that is one way we can give others the right opinion of Who we serve.

    For example, 1 Corinthians 14:40 exhorts, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” This is one reason I would tend to stay away from abstract art, and also why I try to learn more about tools of composition and how to train my eye to intentionally set up shots.

    Of course portrait photography is an obvious area where content is a hot-button issue. But in general, modest clothing draws attention to the face, and immodest clothing draws attention away from the face. So, where is attention drawn when the photo is viewed? Does the pose or the way the person is dressed “make provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14) and potentially lead others into sin (Philippians 1:10, 1 Cor 10:23-33) or is attention drawn to the subject’s countenance?

    I found it very interesting to read @dfrazer’s comments that this is something that can come up even in a “neutral” area like real-estate photography, and again, that gets back to the idea of being intentional in the way we set up our shots. It was encouraging to hear the way he navigates that area.

    My attitude in my photography – should focus on others rather than myself (Philippians 2:5-7)

    When I’m out doing a shoot, what is my attitude? What kind of testimony do I have to those that I’m interacting with?

    Am I so nervous and shy that I demonstrate that I’m thinking more about myself and my comfort zone than about others?

    Am I overly confident or prideful and don’t want others to give me suggestions or advice?

    Do I demonstrate a concern for the needs of others and follow Christ’s example of love (John 15:9), or do I get so focused on taking photos that I forget those around me?

    And certainly, if I’m going about to do my best to give glory to God and give others the right opinion of Who I serve, that means I need to continue to get to know Him better myself by spending quality time in His Word and in prayer. It’s important that I’m abiding in Him and letting Him bear His fruit through me (John 15:4-5)!

    Well, I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said; this topic has not even begun to be exhausted….but I’ll stop here for now since I’m not out to write a book! 🙂 Plus, I’m looking forward to seeing what others say as well!

    “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1Peter 2:9-12)

    Joshua Ong

    I thought of offering some suggestions on photography ideas that could bring glory to the Lord.

    Keeping the “intentional” in mind, I think it would be good to take pictures with the intention of pointing viewers to salvation and the Saviour (e.g. a cross, lamb, or dove). Another idea would be to take pictures that highlight God’s amazing creation as a testament of the awesomeness of the Creator (e.g. intricacy of beautiful flowers or butterflies).

    I realise that in both suggestions, the photographer would most likely need to watermark the pictures with text to inform viewers of the photographer’s intentions. Ultimately, shooting for the glory of God would include photography that focuses on God.

    James Staddon

    Such a great question, @loganlamar! I’ve thought a lot about it, and I’m still trying to figure it out! Here are a couple thoughts from my perspective.

    God is glorified when His will is done. I have my own ideas of how to glorify Him, but the fact of the matter is, because He’s the One that knows best how He can be glorified, then when I have the desire to glorify Him (which I desire to be always), I find myself turning my attention on understanding and doing His will for the situation I happen to be in at the moment.

    This manifests itself in a couple different ways. For instance….

    How I take pictures. In the genre I enjoy most, landscape, I find myself in many situations that challenge my desire to do His will. Impatience, frustration, not thinking of other’s time, discontentment, glory in self achievement….these are all temptations that are obviously not doing what God would want me to do in the moment. So, if God can lead me in victory in these small decisions, then regardless of whether or not anyone is watching, God is glorified in me. If there are others watching, then there is the opportunity for God to be glorified in them too, as they see the “good works” and (perhaps without even knowing it) they agree with God that those right actions taken were indeed “good”.

    What I take pictures of. Again, having my goal to do God’s will out of a desire to love Him with all of my heart navigates me through this as well. Knowing what is or is not acceptable to be seen, as @dfrazer mentioned, is completely relative if you do not have some sort of a guideline to go by. Like the Bible. That’s why culture doesn’t have any problem with things now that it used to have a problem with in the past. The role of the Bible as its guide is less now than it was before. And the same thing is true in Christian culture. The interpretation of Scripture has changed. (Why this is true is another topic.) But the fact is, every single person is going to have a different interpretation of what the Bible has to say about modesty, and so it’s a good topic to discuss, especially within our own families, and we each need to know for ourselves exactly what God’s will is in this matter. But having my focus on doing God’s will is what guides me in making decisions in what I will or will not take pictures of, and this ultimately is what glorifies Him. I do a lot of wedding photography, so this is very much a matter I talk to God about a lot.

    What I intend to express with my photos. Even through inanimate objects, I can express the lusts of my flesh (how deceitfully wicked my heart is!), so I seek always to be sensitive to the promptings of His Holy Spirit so that the consequences of “deception” and “confusion” can be avoided.

    How I share my photos. @bennett-family touched on this really well. The closer we draw near to God, the more the light of Christ will reveal the impurities in our inner motives.

    So, really, photography is just like any other activity. You can do the exact same outward action, and in one situation it glorifies God, and in another situation, if you’re heart isn’t right, then it doesn’t glorify God. Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing…I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me” (John 5:30).

    To me, in order to glorify God as a photographer, I must live a life of complete surrender. Oh how I desire in all things to “approve things that are excellent” (Philippians 1:10).

    In addition to this, of course, I do everything I can to outwardly proclaim the name of Jesus Christ too, whether it’s witnessing or handing out tracts while I’m out taking pictures, adding Scripture to my photos, recommending Christ-affiliated photography-related resources (like Lightstock) . . . or helping a missionary who needs photos! Hint, hint 🙂

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