|Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 3600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100|
While teaching the students of the School of Photography at the University of the Nations campus in Kona, Hawaii, I had them tell me WHY they made a photograph.
Asking this question made them quickly realize that they were making a portrait, for example, to capture a person’s personality and communicate it best they could.
Portrait photography is an excellent example to me, when done right, of how we as Christians should be living our lives.
Imitating Christ’s Humility
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
In portrait photography, you do everything possible to get to know the person. After getting to know the person, you work out a way using posing, lighting, composition and through dialogue with the person, pull out of them that brief moment that captures them in such a way that their closest friends feel like you captured the best of their friend.
You, the photographer, must diminish for the subject to be celebrated. When well-done, people see the person, not all the photography stuff it took to make the photo.
C.S. Lewis writes, in Mere Christianity, that pride is the “anti-God” state, the position in which the ego and the self are directly opposed to God: “Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” In contrast, Lewis states that, in Christian moral teaching, the opposite of pride is humility and, in his famous phrase, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
People seek you out not because of your photographic skill when you do a great job as a portrait photographer. They seek you out because of how good your subjects look.
“True humility” is distinctly different from “false humility,” which consists of deprecating one’s sanctity, gifts, talents, and accomplishments to receive praise from others. In this context, legitimate humility comprises the following behaviors and attitudes:
- Submitting to God and legitimate authority
- Recognizing virtues and talents that others possess, particularly those that surpass one’s own, and giving due honor and, when required, obedience
- Recognizing the limits of one’s skills, ability, or authority; and, not reaching for what is beyond one’s grasp
Moments like this of this little child in Togo remind me that something greater than me allows these moments to happen. I did not speak her language and did not get to know her as I usually would do for a portrait. However, I believe God worked with us to allow this to happen.
I must acknowledge that most of my portraits happen for reasons I cannot always explain. While I did everything technically to get the photo, the expression and moment itself are always beyond my control. I believe that this is where God takes control.
Humility isn’t about being a doormat; it’s about being a doorway–a doorway through which others enter God’s presence and power. By focusing on building others up and helping others connect with God, we show them the love of God, who desires the best for them.