Portraits of Malcolm Guite

Poet, priest, and academic Malcolm Guite has had an indelible influence on my life. For some 5 years, I've followed his work – reading his poems, listening to his lectures and readings,  and chasing his recommendations (he's introduced me to the work of many, including Bob Dylan and Seamus Heaney). His books on poetry have been some of the best that I've read on the subject, and have inspired multiple photo series over the years (in Christmas 2015, in early 2016, and again that Christmas, In fact, his life almost interchanges with my family history. For years, he served as a priest of the Church of St. Edward King and Martyr in Cambridge, the very church where my grandparents were married in. 

Although I'll regularly interact with Malcolm online, I've always wanted to meet him. When I learned that he was coming to Vancouver, BC to teach a course on poetry at Regent College, followed by a stay at A Rocha Canada, the organization dear friends of mine work for, I knew it was time for a trip to the West Coast. It was an extraordinary week. I plan to eventually write more about it, as my time with Malcolm included an extensive, almost 3 hour interview (that will eventually, I promise, see the light of day). 

I will say this for now: being amongst Malcolm for over a week, in a variety of different contexts, showed me two things: first, it is okay to be happily eccentric (a vocation I've always held to, although at times cautiously). Second, a love of beauty and words can exist in parallel with an all-encompassing Gospel vision. Often, we are taught that the two can only exist carefully and cautiously together. But for Malcolm, they are one and the same.

Over the week, I took a number of candid portraits of Malcolm, the best of which I'm sharing here. Keep reading, as there are some stories that join these photos.

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Malcolm’s taste in beers echoes my own, so I had the great pleasure of bussing all over Vancouver to find a selection of my favourites, which refreshed Malcolm prior to his performance that evening. We both took great joy in these gifts! 

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This tree reminded Malcolm of the famous photo of Tolkien next to one of his favorite trees. This photo, in fact, inspired one of Malcolm’s poems. So of course, using a borrowed phone, he had to share it with us.

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 This photo also has story behind it: after posting it on Facebook, I got an email from artist Faye Hall, who was working on a book of art, called Seven Whole Days, inspired by one of Malcolm's poetry sequences. She payed me money to use the photo of Malcolm as his portrait on the book's back cover! That was very satisfying.

This photo also has story behind it: after posting it on Facebook, I got an email from artist Faye Hall, who was working on a book of art, called Seven Whole Days, inspired by one of Malcolm's poetry sequences. She payed me money to use the photo of Malcolm as his portrait on the book's back cover! That was very satisfying.

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Malcolm had mentioned that he would be coming to my home city of Calgary later that December as part of a poetry and music tour with Steve Bell. The day he was in town he sent me a message. Two hours later I was walking along the river with Malcolm, where we enjoyed some of our favourite things: smoking pipes, admiring the sharp beauty of the winter light on water, and talking about books, poetry, and serving Christ in our era. It was a delight! 

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I wish we had paused to ask a bystander to take a photo of the two of us, as we were both dressed in knee-length tweed coats, bright scarfs, and sweater vests. Admittedly, Malcolm's hat was much more impressive than mine. 

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Faye Hall again reached out to me, asking for permission to turn this photo into one of her paintings (attached below). 

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Psalms for Lent

It's become an annual habit. Every Spring, in the season of Lent before Easter, I switch my iPhone's camera to black and white and post a photo everyday. It's become a discipline. I do it to prepare for Easter, but I also do it as an annual excuse to be forced to think visually again. I love photography, but amidst my writing and music hobbies it often takes third tier. These annual exercises are excuses to resurrect it. 

In past years, I've used collections of poetry as my Lent photo guide. That has become distracting, so this year I've stuck to the Psalms. Every day I would prayerfully read a psalm and hone in on the one verse that I needed most that day. That verse became my prayer, and I would select and edit an image with it in mind. 

Here are the results. I'm mostly happy with them. I needed these psalms during that season and I hope that desperation is echoed in the images. I also hope to do more photo projects around the psalms in the years ahead. Perhaps someday the work will result an a sort of illustrated Psalter? That's far in the future. I just know I want to dwell in these ancient prayers all my life, and that includes responding to them in this way.

 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?  24

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?

24

 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.   25

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 

25

 For your steadfast love is before my eyes  26

For your steadfast love is before my eyes

26

 Let your heart take courage  27

Let your heart take courage

27

 Be their shepherd and carry them forever.   28

Be their shepherd and carry them forever. 

28

 The voice of the LORD strips the forests bare  and in his temple all cry, "Glory!"  29

The voice of the LORD strips the forests bare

and in his temple all cry, "Glory!"

29

 "Oh LORD, be my helper!"  30

"Oh LORD, be my helper!"

30

 My times are in your hand.   31

My times are in your hand. 

31

 I shall counsel you with my eye upon you.   32

I shall counsel you with my eye upon you. 

32

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Those who look to him are radiant,

and their faces shall never be ashamed.

34

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Say to my soul,

"I am your salvation!"

35

 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you.  36

Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you.

36

 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself.  37

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself.

37

 All my longing is before you  38

All my longing is before you

38

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For I am a sojourner with you,

a guest, like all my fathers.

39

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As for me, I am poor and needy,

but the LORD takes thought for me.

40

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At night his song is with me,

a prayer to the God of my life.

42

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Send out your light and your truth;

let them lead me;

43

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Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:

45

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God is in the midst of her

46

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For God is the King over all the earth

47

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We have thought on your steadfast love, O God

48

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For he will receive me.

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 Hear, O my people  50

Hear, O my people

50

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Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and uphold me

51

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I will wait for your name

52

 Oh that salvation would come out of Zion!  53

Oh that salvation would come out of Zion!

53

 the Lord is the upholder of my life.  54

the Lord is the upholder of my life.

54

 And I would say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest;"  55

And I would say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest;"

55

 You have kept count of my tossings    56   Monday

You have kept count of my tossings  

56

Monday

 I cry out to God Most High,   to God who fulfills his purpose for me  57   Tuesday

I cry out to God Most High, 

to God who fulfills his purpose for me

57

Tuesday

 surely there is a God who judges    on earth.   58   Wednesday

surely there is a God who judges  

on earth. 

58

Wednesday

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My God in his steadfast love will

meet me; 

59

Thursday

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O God, you have rejected  

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Friday

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From him comes my salvation

62

Sunday

Dialogue in the Woods

Earlier this week my friend Thomas Zak sent me his poem, "Dialogue in the Woods." Thomas is from the South: Louisiana. That location is foreign and mysterious in my imagination, conjuring voodoo and gospel music; dark racism and high culture; festering swamps and otherworldly giant trees. (I'm sure Baton Rouge is far different than this expectation and I would love to someday experience it myself.) Thomas  told me his poem was being published on the blog of a local literary journal and that they were looking for photos to accompany it. He loved "the fractured, mosaic form of [my] photographs and immediately thought [my] work would be a great fit. Would I be interested in submitting some images?" As you, my readers, know, I've long been exploring the possibilities of pairing the seeing eye and the written word, especially with poetry, so I lept at the chance for a new collaboration.

My friend's deceptively simple poem reminded my of the several acres of young poplar about a mile from my home. Over the years I've often wandered there when I've needed to call a friend, get out of my head, or take some pictures. The poem speaks of both the sadness and contentment found in the life cycle of a tree, so my sequence of images tried to follow this cycle from the forest floor to the parts of the tree nearest the sky.

Thomas and I worked closely as we refined the image selection and their order, and now the finished piece has gone live. Head over and take a look. I hope you're as pleased as we are with this collaboration. 

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Advent Imagery

Advent is one of my favourite seasons. It's a time of waiting, to realize again the longing for the one who saves us from our sorry state, to yearn even more for His eventual return to set all things new, and our continual need of his coming into our lives.

This year I once again read Malcolm Guite's fine poetry anthology, Waiting on the Word. The book is like attending a poetry appreciation class from a beloved teacher. I got even more out of it this second year through. Perhaps my favourite part of this experience is listening to the recordings of the poems he posts on his blog. Even if you don't have a copy of his book, I encourage you to take the time to listen to these recordings

Every day for Advent, I selected a line from the poem and edited an image in an attempt to capture its spirit. Because I have lately been most comforatable in the multiple exposure style, I decided to challenge myself and limit photos taken in that style to the seven poems inspired by the O Antiphon sequence, which is the heart of Malcolm's book.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed the discipline of creating them. Please click on the line of poem underneath each image to read the entire poem. 

  Even in the darkness where I sit   And huddle in the midst of misery   I can remember the freedom, but forget   That every lock must answer to a key

Even in the darkness where I sit

And huddle in the midst of misery

I can remember the freedom, but forget

That every lock must answer to a key

Evening Prayer: A Photo Sequence for Psalm 4

 

Evening Prayer


A Photo Sequence for Psalm 4

 
Psalm4.1

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!

You have given me relief when I was in distress.

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!


 

O men, how long shall my honour be turned into shame?

How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah

But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;

The LORD hears when I call to him.


 

Be angry, and do not sin;


 

ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah


 

Offer right sacrifices,

and put your trust in the LORD.


 

There are many who say, "Who will show us some good?

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"

You have put more joy in my heart

than they have when their grain and wine abound.


 

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;

for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.


 

A Note on the Sequence

 

 

The day draws to a close, but I am not yet ready to relinquish control. To submit to sleep is to admit that the day is done, that not all its wrongs can be righted, that my plans to accomplish everything have failed, and that its tensions remain unresolved. Even though it is decreed in our bodies that we return to sleep, it is not easy. We want to stay in control. We want to oversee the operation. Evening prayer is a deliberate act of spirit that cultivates willingly what our bodies force on us finally.  Psalm 4 is an evening prayer. It has taught me to process the events of the day in light God's action and to offer my involvement as a sacrifice for him to transform. It does not ignore the day's frustrations, but places its peace in the trust of our Lord.

Eugene Peterson's book Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer contains a chapter on this psalm and its companion morning prayer, Psalm 5. (Quotes from this chapter are in italics.) I read it while visiting Victoria, British Columbia early this summer, sitting on a grassy bluff overlooking the ocean. It left such an impact that over the rest of the summer, I read it aloud to three separate friends. I had opportunities to turn that psalm into prayer at the close of many confounding days.  During the summer, I was also at work on a series of abstract photographs, taken on that same trip. The images were multiple exposure photographs, carefully selected for their continuity in colour and edited to maintain a consistency in texture and tone. I struggled to find a unifying narrative for this sequence, until realizing their parallel with this psalm.

The images prominently feature a passionate orange (like the ambitious discontent of my heart),  in contrast with a cool, collected solidity of blues, greens, and granite (like the overarching presence of God.) Psalm 4 acknowledges both of these characteristics, teaching the first to know its place in the second. This evening prayer is a symmetrical beauty, arranging two sets of contrasts on either side of a centre that uses six verbs to restore the rhythms of grace in us. 

The psalm and the sequence opens with a clamorous beginning, much like my heart upon entering prayer. The image - a confused flurry of fiery grass and grey sea rock - is a violent discord of both the orange and the grey themes. Similarly, the psalm's opening paragraph is a confusion of David's feelings over both his emotions and his knowledge of his Lord. In contrast, the final image - a bleached arbutus log caught in the rock of an ocean cliff - reflects the quiet conclusion of the psalm's final paragraph. The photo captures the peace, security, and steadfastness of that ending verse, like the flexible driftwood resting in the permanence of the rock. 

Next we have our first contrast (Image 2), between those who pursue futility and those who realize providence. Some people...fill the day with a desperate and anxious grasp for that which is not. Others discover God's providential motions in themselves and others. This image is chaotic, reflecting the vanity of those described in the verse. But nestled amongst the solid rock is a bright orange leaf, like the psalm's imagery of "the LORD setting apart the godly for himself."

The second contrast (Image 6), is between those who are perpetually asking God for what they do not have and those who are overwhelmed before God with what he has already given. The image, in continuity with Image 2, also contains bright orange contrasted by its surroundings. But this photo - an arbutus tree growing of a mossy rock - includes both the sense of urgency of the verse, along with its upward focused joy. 

Then we arrive at the centre of the psalm and my sequence. Six paired verbs move us from self-assertion in which we push our vain wills on the people and circumstances around us - acting as if we are in charge of the universe - to a believing obedience that acts as if God is in charge and that submits to becoming the kind of person that God is in charge of. Here I offer three images, one for each pair of verbs. Two contain the calm colour theme and the centre image describes this theme's intersection with the orange. 

The first - gnarly, spiked trees on a solid bank - reflects both the honest frustration we are told to express over the imperfections of our day, and also the boundaries that are to be placed on our anger. The second image - sunset-lit grasses like wildfire amongstdark, rocky hills - is a picture of the volatile self finding his proper place in silence, recognizing the person that God is gathering into salvation. The third - a bird-like kite dancing against soft clouds and a bank of grasses - is like the sacrifice of our days, offered to God to do with what he will. Christ's forgiveness will transform them. The Spirit's sanctification will redeem these offerings. You have had all day, now let God have all night. A sinful life is offered up, a holy life is received back. 

For years, my photography style has been driven by clean, carefully composed images. I see my craft as catching glimpses of the designs that the Great Artist has placed all around us. But recently, as I've found myself drawn more and more to the multiple exposure technique, I've struggled to reconcile its chaotic nature with the clarity of the gospel. By working through this project, I've recognized that this abstract style captures the tension of a life lived between the reality of the gospel and the confusion of our hearts, a tension that the Psalms acknowledges so well.

You can download a PDF of the complete sequence here.

Preparing for Easter Through Black and White

Short swallow-flights of song, that dip

Their wings in tears, and skim away.”

— Alfred Lord Tennyson in 'In Memoriam'

For the third time now, I switched my iPhone's camera to black and white and underwent the rigorous challenge of posting black and white photos during the 40 or so days leading up to Easter. 

Initially, my plan was to post a photo every day except for Sundays. (Sundays are days of feasting; days of rest.) But this challenge wore at me. It took away from my spiritual walk instead of adding to it. The images lacked the care and craft that I'd grown to see in my work. So I slowed it down towards the end and was largely happy with the result. 

In previous years, I've labelled the photos as a Lenten fast, which they are. But Lent carries negative connotations, both for my secular-raised-Catholic friends and my staunchly-Evangelical-bare-bones-liturgy church. And although it has been a fast from colour, the practice is an addition to my life, rather than a cutting away. (Although it is a sacrifice of time, to be sure.)

There is an element of mourning and austerity to the photographs. I hope they, and my life during that season, took on an aura of repentance, seriousness, and grief over sorrow and sin. 

But ultimately, I do this so I would long all the more for Easter. I better celebrated its implications: the rest Christ's victory over sin brings, as I now rest from my photo labours. The joy of the Resurrection colouring everything, including my current post-Easter photographs. The redemption of my world, changed forever. 

During Advent, I read the Cambridge poet-priest Malcolm Guite's anthology of poems, Waiting On the Word. It was excellent. His fine selection of poems were such a pleasure, as was learning how to read these poems through his insightful commentary. An added bonus, he recorded a reading of each poem on his blog. Listening to them was an education in itself, a daily private poetry concert.

This year, my photos' captions come from excepts of the poems in his Lent book, The Word in the Wilderness. You can pick it up on iBooks, or order a hardcopy. And his recordings are posted on his blog.

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Some year, I would love to post a photo in colour for everyday of Eastertide, for the resurrection deserves extended celebration. But I've always been too worn out by the end of the 40 days to attempt more creativity. I also hope Malcolm will write an Eastertide anthology, soon!

Enjoy this gallery, and please click on each image to read the accompanying text, indispensable to that image's interpretation.

Christmas Day and Advent Antiphons

Today is Christmas, a day of celebration; for although all is not right, and sorrow and frustrations are real, the promised Messiah has come. His arrival, heralded by angels and foretold by prophets, is foretaste of our future and ultimate deliverance. Our Eternal God has stepped into human form, redeeming us by living and dying in the flesh, and he will come again. 

Just as the reunion of a bride and groom on their wedding day is anticipated by their preparations, so the season of advent prepares us for today’s festivities. The seven great ‘O Antiphons’ of advent are a series of prayers thatcome from early Christians (as early as the 6th century). Each prayer uses a name of Christ from Scripture, calling upon him to come anew into our lives. Many will recognize them from the lyrics of ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.  The prayers are rooted in and breath forth Scripture. I was introduced to them through the outstanding influence of the Cambridge poet-priest Malcolm Guite, who has an excellent series of sonnets based on each of these prayers.

In the seven days leading up to Christmas, I paired an excerpt of each prayer with a photo and a few lines from Malcolm’s sonnet. Click on the lines of poetry to head to Malcom’s website where you can hear the entire prayer and poem. I hope you find in these prayers, their pictures, and Malcolm’s sonnets a fresh way to yearn for, and rejoice in, Christ’s coming. 

Antiphon 1
Antiphon 2
Antiphon 2
Antiphon 4
Antiphon 5
Antiphon 6
Antiphon 7

O, Emmanuel
Come, and save us, O Lord our God.

 "O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without"

 

By the way, as Malcom points out on his blog, the antiphonies reveal a “secret message embedded subtly into the whole sequence. In each of these antiohons we have been calling on Him to come to us, to come as Light as Key, as King, as God-with-us. Now, standing on the brink of Christmas, looking back at the illuminated capital letters for each of the seven titles of Christ, we would see an answer to our pleas : ERO CRAS the latin words meaning ‘TOMORROW I WILL COME!’

O Emmanuel

O Rex

O Oriens

O Clavis

O Radix

O Adonai

O Sapientia”

 

Christ has come. Let us rejoice in who he is this Christmas Day!

Island: A Photo Series

While sick in bed this autumn, I edited the following series of photographs from my summer vacation to Hornby Island. I'm especially happy with the way the colours flow throughout the series. Enjoy!

Enumeration No. 1

I’ve followed rapper Whitelotus on Instagram for a number of years. Occasionally he would comment on a photo, adding a line of poetry that would breathe second life into that image. I enjoyed these spontaneous collaborations so much that we decided to work together on something more official. We now present Enumeration: A Collaboration. Whitelotus chooses from a selection of my images, creating a sequence of poems to pair with them. Below is the first sequence, Enumeration No. 1. Join us by following along on both of our Instagram accounts (@realwhitelotus and @djmelvill; let us know what you think. (You can also download this first sequence as a PDF here.)

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one.

may we be found in our own journey : we are chasing phantoms : we are elated from within : we are folded about ourselves : in the hope of finding higher ground, we are submerged in our being

 

 

 

 

two.

we are led to the water : we are of the finest silk and lightest threads, sifted through the filter of our perception : we are aware of more that what we sense : we can feel it

 

 

 

 

 

three.

cut into the dampness of the minds eye, we are running : petrified state of glorious ambush : led into the darkness : we are being guided by our intuition

 

 

 

 

 

1.4

four.

all things come to us as a surprise : we are being led to it : impermanence, we are foundered by it : we are lost in contemplation

 

 

 

 

 

1.5

five.

it is a ghostly renunciation : past blood and by waters, we are being watched : the sensation of union is fleeting : the emptiness embraces us and becomes our watcher

 

 

 

 

 

Arbutus: A Photo Series

One of the highlights of my vacation to the West Coast this summer was spending a couple afternoons and evenings wandering Helliwell Provincial Park. My backpack was filled with snacks, water, a sweater, and a Mophie juicepack. I would listen to my Wendell Barry audiobook while wandering along the beach, or through the forest, or across the cliffs. Regularly I would pause, under a giant oak tree or amongst a glade of arbutus trees, and pull out my book, a biography of George Herbert. And of course, my iPhone's camera accompanied me everywhere.

There are many arbutus trees on Hornby Island. The arbutus is my favourite tree. It is filled with character and with potential for images. This series of five images, all taken in or nearby Helliwell Park, was photographed with the app AverageCamPro and edited with VSCO Cam. I hope you enjoy. 

Meritt, Collected

Hornby Island, furtherest north of British Columbia’s gulf islands, is not only an almost annual visit of rest and vacation, but thanks to its outstanding beauty, it is also a place of almost annual artistic inspiration. In the dreary winter, as I was looking forward to the vacation, I read an essay in Image Journal on the artist Gala Bent. The writer mentioned that the illustrator regularly brings 

“natural objects—rocks, pinecones—into her studio, not to draw them directly, but to feed her creative process by using them as objects for study. She sometimes contemplates them for years: one pinecone with two heads she’s kept since her time in Indiana. They are present in her studio as she draws, and also somehow present in her inner landscape. “I have a nutritional need to be outside,” she says. “So then when I go back to the studio, I feel similar in a strange way to the Song dynasty painters, where I feel like I’ve internalized the natural world and I’m bringing it back in my body.”

Her story of the two-headed pinecone recalled a beautiful black rock that I collected on a beach at Hornby the first time I visited, eight years ago. I picked it up because its colour, its smooth texture, and because the form of it in my hand pleased me. That rock has been a proud feature of my dresser ever since. Reflecting on this an idea struck me: what would it look like to daily collect such an object on my vacation and photograph it against the natural wood and light of our rented vacation home? There were so many interesting natural objects to be found on the beaches and in the forests of Hornby, so I would be sure to have plenty of inspiration. And the fixed limitations of the form would offer some sort of consistency to my endeavours. 

Six months later, my ideas took form. My initial idea of shooting against the dark wood of the house proved challenging. The camera revealed flaws in the wood or glass that became distracting. A visit to the only art shop on the island yielded some expensive art paper, an extravagant purchase that worked well and resulted in what I consider to be the best of the series. 

A quick note about the last three photos. Taking apart an arbutus branch was a fun challenge, especially as I added a new element one at a time. While colourful, the photo with the leaves and branch looked too much like a hipster’s outfit photo. I ended up posting the photo of the bark elegantly laid out, but looking back, I prefer the raw, wild texture of the piece of curling bark. Which is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below. 

Fasting Through Black and White

For another year I have taken an unusual Lent fast: a fast from colour. In the weeks leading up to Easter I have applied a greyscale filter to my iPhone’s camera. Everyday, except for Sunday,  I chose one of these photos and pair it with a passage from the Scripture readings from that day. Photos are then edited in VSCO Cam.

Why Lent? As someone whose convictions are firmly evangelical and reformed, I formally scoffed at the practice. It wasn’t until I began to study works from outside the narrow slice of evangelism I was raised him,  that realized the rich history of the church calendar throughout church history, including the Reformed and Anglican streams. I recalled how my annual observance of Advent prepared my heart for the celebration of Christmas. In contrast, Easter tends to sneak up on me and leave far too quickly, without much observance of its impact on my heart and my world. 

Someone coming out of Roman Catholicism might benefit from abstaining from Lent, focusing solely on disciplines ordained by God in his Word. But I have benefited from time set aside to sombrely reflect on this world and its disappointments, my sins, and the hope we are preparing to celebrate at Easter. The dull and sometimes gloomy tones of the black and white filter emphasis this, but they also showcase a complexity of pattern and texture that suggests something deeper at work. And the brilliant contrast to the full colours on display following Easter remind us of the unending implications of the Resurrection here and now, amongst us. 

Now that this project is completed you can enjoy the gallery below. (Please click on an image to open it in full screen and hover on the photo to view the matching passage of Scripture; an essential part of the experience.) You can also enjoy my posts from 2014, which were posted here. 

Advent and Christmastide

The poetic potential of the advent and Christmas seasons is limitless. The painters, wordsmiths, musicians, and speakers of our faith have mined it for millennium and have yet to finish. The yearning of every heart is for the coming of our King. This season is about setting time aside to prepare for his coming and celebrating his arrival and the implications it brings.

For the month of Advent and the two weeks since Christmas I have been mediating upon these truths, marinating on them my prayers, listening to music that examines them, sitting under teaching on the subject in church, and celebrating the season with family and friends. So when it came to write about Christmas here, I felt inadequate. I wondered where to begin and upon what to limit the boundary of my discussion. 

I came back to the Scripture readings that I daily reflected upon during this season. These are what inspired the pictures I daily posted during both Advent (the days leading up to Christmas) and Christmastide (the “12 Days of Christmas” following the 25th). These portions of the Bible are what tell of the One Who created and sustains everything, Who stepped into our world to redeem it, and Who will come again.

Enjoy the gallery and mediate with me on the words. Christmas may be over but its implications never end.

The Seeing Eye and the Written Word

This autumn I embarked on a photo project. I wanted to pair images that captured the sights and atmosphere of the season with words I was reading from my collection of Seamus Heaney's poetry. Heaney's words are grounded in nature but look beyond the natural, comprehending the transcendent. It is this balance that I hope my photography achieves. 

Looking back, the finished set of photographs have an overall consistency that is hampered by the occasional inconsistent cropping. I've selected my 15 favourites, and have included the original quote and a reference to its poem (click on the image and hover over it to view the quote). I hope you enjoy seeing them gathered together here.

I am just now beginning an Advent photo series. You are welcome to follow along on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Late Summer: A Gallery of Images

I took many photos this summer, but I posted few images. Although they seldom appeared, they were edited and selected with craft and care. The text and images are loaded with personal meaning and continue to resonate emotionally. 

Looking back, the colours are faded and golden and the crops I favour are long and elongated. Although I sometimes wish I posted more, I'm proud of these images. I hope they point to the sustenance of the one who redeems all of the times.

Enjoy. And let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Fresh Creativity

Sometimes all it takes to break a creative block is a new app and a creative partner. I had been away from home for a month and a half, returning to my family on a beautiful spring evening. I was surprised to see how warmly my little brother responded to my presence. He's just entering the teenage years, which can be tough but that night he didn't stopped talking to me about anything and everything. He's a pretty creative kid and on a walk with our sisters I pulled out, for the first time in a while, the multiple exposure app Average Cam Pro.

The design of the app needs a lot of work, but the concept is terrific. You control the number of exposures and the time between each exposure, resulting in an image that is layered and jagged and can be controlled by movement to stunning effect. Instagram user Kym Skiles has inspired me with her images for some time now.

 

We had a blast and came away with some terrific images, but of all the ones we took of our sister, this one takes the cake...and my brother took it, putting all of my attempts to shame! I'm pretty proud of him (and slightly jealous)! 

Since that evening I've been playing with the app quite a bit. I found it a refreshing way to see colour, texture, and form anew.  Enjoy these images and expect to see more in the weeks ahead!

 

Lenten 2014: A Photo Journey

I did not grow up celebrating Lent. Advent, yes, but Lent had Catholic connotations wrapped up in it. And while I think it would be healthy for someone coming out of Catholicism to abstain from Lent, for evangelicals unaccustomed to such discipline it can be a sobering exercise, preparing one's heart for the coming Resurrection.

This year I decided to do something unusual. I would fast from using colour in my images. Switching my iPhone's camera from colour to black and white was easy with iOS 7. Finding a photo to post (almost) everyday was the greater challenge. Although the discipline made me aware of the shadows and forms everywhere in our world, it was easy to become repetitive.

Another challenge was finding texts to match the images. Malcolm Guite's beautiful series of sonnets for the church year provided much inspiration, as did BIOLA University's Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts Lent Project. Of course, scripture was a constant guide and I used a stripped down version of the seven last words of Jesus for one week. (Click on the images below and then hover over them to view the words.)

The effect on my feed and my heart was one of subtle sadness, a weariness and watching that suited life in a fallen world. But as the days went on there grew a steady, constant hope. The Resurrection was coming. All things (including colour) would be, and will be, restored.