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Church Photography 101

When I watched a blank piece of photography paper settle into the “developer solution,” a ghost-like image started to appear, becoming more solid and complete until my friend plucked it from the bin and dropped it in the “fix solution” to secure the image to the paper and stop the reaction–I was hooked. From nothing–something.

Nearly 30 years later, I have taken thousands of church-related photos that tell a story of gentle healing, prayerful presence, and the magnetic joy of the church in action. Photographs are not just pictures; they are profound storytellers and emotional messengers. Nowhere is this more impactful and meaningful than in the sacred spaces of our churches. Through photography, we can capture the spirit of the community, the sanctity of worship, and the vibrant life of faith of our church.

Good photographs can evoke feelings of awe and reverence–they are a bridge, connecting those within the church community and reaching out to those who might be looking for a spiritual home. Offering examples of solace, celebrating joyous occasions, and fostering a sense of belonging is especially important in a world where digital presence enhances or even substitutes physical presence. 

We are excited to announce the Church Photography 101 workshop, scheduled for May 18th, from 9 AM to 3 PM at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Whether you are a photographer keen on using your cellphone more effectively or an experienced photographer looking to refine your skills, this workshop is designed for you.

Led by the talented Diocesan Photographer Susan Forsburg, Director of Communications Chris Tumilty, and Missioner for Community Vitality and Diversity Rachel Ambasing, the workshop aims to explore the art of capturing the beauty and joy of church life. These expert instructors bring a wealth of knowledge and a deep passion for both photography and the church community.

Participants will learn about essential photography principles such as the exposure triangle—understanding how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work together to create the perfect shot. The rule of thirds, a powerful compositional technique, will be another focus area, helping attendees learn how to create more engaging and balanced photos.

The workshop is designed to be hands-on. It’s not just about listening and learning; it’s about doing. Participants will have the opportunity to take their own photographs during the event, which will then be reviewed in a supportive group setting. 

An important aspect of church photography that will be covered during the workshop is the appropriate use of photos. Understanding what images are suitable for sharing and how they can be used respectfully and effectively to communicate the life and work of Jesus Christ at your church is crucial. Photos are a powerful tool, but they must be used wisely, especially in a context as intimate as a church environment.

The ultimate goal of good church photography is to effectively share the story of your church through images–showcasing the life and work of Jesus Christ as lived out by our communities in vibrant color (…or in black and white). Photographs can highlight worship services, community activities, outreach efforts, and the everyday moments that make up the life of our church. By sharing these images, we invite others into our community, offering them a glimpse of the fellowship and divine love that define our congregations.

Join us at the Church Photography 101 workshop to learn how you can contribute to this essential ministry and help share the powerful story of faith, hope, and love that your church embodies. Register for Church Photography 101 here.

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