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Informational

Theology of Photography

Theology of Photography:

What’s the Point of Taking Pictures?

Pastor holding a crystal ball
My good friend and pastor: Rev. Dr. Don Wagner. I discerned my Theology of Photography from much of his instruction.

Without getting into all of my ancient history, it is sufficient to say that theology and faith are very important to me. Something that held me back for many years was an idea of theological call. I could not find God in being a photographer. As I meditated on it, I  discerned that God is very much a part of photography. And so I present: a Theology of Photography.

Photographers are prone to existential crises about the point of making images. Does a photograph capture some essential truth about the world, or is it just another way to manipulate reality? Is photography a neutral documenter of the real world, or an expressive and deliberate medium? The recent emergence of the “Instagram generation” hinders, rather than helps. Many photographers today seem to only take pictures for their personal aesthetic value and neglect—or simply don’t care—about what they actually say about the world.

Why do photos matter?

Before we think about the theological significance of photography, we first have to answer the question: why do photographs matter in the first place? If a photograph is just another kind of image, then what is so special about it?

The answer lies in the medium of photography. For all the visual arts, photography alone is unique in being a mechanical process of image-making. Unlike painting or sculpture, which are manual artistic processes that create new images, the camera is a device that mechanically replicates the real world. This is what makes photography such a powerful medium. Unlike any other visual art, photography has the potential to capture and preserve real events in time and space. This documentary potential is what makes photos so special and valuable. A photograph replicates an event or scene in such a way that anyone with access to the image itself re-experiences that moment or scene.

Theology of the Image: What does it mean to be made in the image of God?

When we talk about the importance of the image of God, we talk about the significance of human beings. We remember that we as humans are created in His likeness. (Gen 1:27)

After all, the image of God is not a physical image like a “selfie”, but rather a spiritual reflection of God’s nature. The image of God is not, then, a physical selfie, but a spiritual reflection of God’s nature. This means that the significance of human beings is not tied to our physical being, but to our spiritual significance.

So how, then, do we understand the theological significance of images? What, if anything, do images say about God? The Bible offers us a number of clues.

Firstly, we notice that the scriptures make a clear distinction between idols, which are images of false gods, and images of the true God. This distinction, however, does not lie in the medium of the image per se, but to the intentions and context of the image. Images of false gods are idols because they are used in the wrong context. Images that are used to glorify God are not idols, but images. This tells us that imagery can have a theological significance, but this significance derives from their use and context. When used as a vehicle for worship, images reveal something about the nature of God himself. When used for idolatry, however, images become vehicles for false and destructive theology.

Discovering our purpose through making images

The theological significance of images, of course, is not limited to their use in worship and art. Photography, in particular, is an excellent medium for exploring theology, because it has the potential to record real events as images. This means that each image becomes a reflection of reality, as well as a vehicle for theological reflection. This is why photographers should be concerned with what their images “say”, beyond their aesthetic value. This is not to say that aesthetics are unimportant, but rather that aesthetics are not the end goal of photography. Photography is not just a craft or an aesthetic pursuit, but a medium for theological exploration. This means that every time a photographer takes a picture, they participate in a theological exploration. Every image a photographer takes is an opportunity for theological reflection, a chance for the photographer to discover something new about the meaning of reality.

Theological Reasoning and Artistic Creation

Even though images have the potential for theological significance, this does not mean that photographs are always “true” or “real”. After all, photography is a mechanical process of replicating reality, not a magical process of creating reality out of nothing. This means that photographers must be careful not to confuse how they create images (which is mechanically) with the images themselves (which are representations of the real world).

The fact that photography is a mechanical process of image-making raises some interesting questions in light of the image of God. Most obviously, if God created us in His image, then does this mean that we, too, can mechanically replicate reality? If so, does this make photography a divine activity? And what about other mechanical processes like filmmaking and animation? If these activities are also divine in nature, how do we distinguish between their divine and human origins?

These are all fascinating questions, but they also reveal the difficult position that photography finds itself in. Photography’s mechanical nature suggests that it cannot be divine, but it also is not reduced to a human activity. Photography is a divine-human activity, an image-making that reveals the divine creative nature of reality and the human creative capacity to image this reality.

Bottom Line

Our discussion here reveals that photography has the potential to be a powerful medium for theological exploration. This means that photographers have a significant responsibility to use their craft as a means of theological discovery. This does not mean that all photographers have to be “artsy” or “intellectual”, but that they have to be deliberate and intentional about the images we make. Additionally, photographers have to be mindful of the context and intention of their images and mindful of the theological significance of their craft.

You can read another attempt I’ve made at this topic by reading My Manifesto.

Wanna know more? Let’s chat in person!

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Informational Wedding Photography

How to Choose a St. Louis Wedding Photographer

How to Choose a St. Louis Wedding Photographer: 3 Tips to Help You Choose

Bridal Party Bouquet Toss at St. Louis' Municipal Theatre

There’s no doubt about it, hiring a photographer for your wedding is an important decision. So many details need to photograph, and the photographs are what you look back on for years to come. We all know that choosing the right photographer can set the tone of your big day in a major way. After all, these images are the only records you have left after the big day is done. But with so many different photographers out there, how do you choose? With so many options available, it may seem like an overwhelming task to find the perfect St. Louis wedding photographer for your special day. However, with careful research and consideration of a few key points, you can hire the perfect one for your wedding without much difficulty at all!

Check Out The Wedding Photographer’s Work Ethics

This is one of the most important factors that you should look out for when hiring a photographer. This can determine whether a photographer will be professional and skillful enough to handle your special day. It can also help you determine if a photographer is right for your special day in other ways as well.

One quick way to determine a photographer’s work ethics is to see if they have any reviews or testimonials from past clients. An established photographer will likely have reviews from past clients. Make sure you check out the reviews and take them into account when making your decision.

A photographer’s communication style also illustrates their work ethic. Make sure to check out how responsive the photographer is after you are in touch with them. If they take a long time to respond to your emails or phone calls this may illustrate their organization, or lack thereof. An organized photographer will respond to you in a prompt manner. Side tip: get all your questions answered and make sure you are on track for the big day.

Check the Wedding Photography Package Included Services

This is an important factor to look out for as well, especially if you have a specific theme or style in mind. You need to make sure that all the included services your photographer offers will suit your wedding needs. A good photographer will provide a list of included services that you can look over when deciding which photographer to hire. This list will help you figure out which services the photographers offer, so you can compare them to your needs and expectations. A good photographer will know what services are needed for your special day and list them accordingly. This will make it super easy for you to determine if a photographer is right for you. Once you have narrowed down your options based on the package included services, you can then select the photographer whose services fit your needs and expectations the most.

Ask for References

Another thing you should do when narrowing down your options is ask for references. A photographer that has references available to give you is likely trustworthy, so this can be another sign of professionalism and skill. A photographer should be able to provide you with references and contact information for previous clients that you can reach out to. You should definitely take the time to reach out to references to see if the photographer provided them with excellent service in the past.

3 More Tips to Help Find the Right St. Louis Wedding Photographer!

All in all, hiring a photographer for your special day is an important decision. Make sure to consider these factors when narrowing down your options and selecting the perfect photographer for your wedding.

Now that you know what to look out for when hiring a photographer, you can be sure to select the right one for your special day! Finding the right photographer for your wedding is definitely doable. With careful consideration of these factors, you can find a photographer that will provide you with the perfect service for your wedding day. Now all that’s left is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the planning process!

For more information, please click on the link below. ## Click Here book one of St. Louis’ Best Wedding Photographers

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Promotional

Fearless!

Today I was accepted by Fearless Photographers.
Fearless Photographer Logo
Fearless Photographer Profile

So This Happened Today…

I found out today that Fearless Photographers accepted me as one of their own.

The process for this was an application and portfolio review. I am excited that I can confidently present a portfolio these days and not sweat too much if it is acceptable. This is a world-wide list, and I am the only name I recognize in the St. Louis area, and certainly the only one in the St. Louis Metro-East.

About Fearless Photographers

Fearless Photographers is a registry of amazing wedding photographers for couples who truly love photography. I consider it an honor to be amongst this crowd of exceptional photographers. They work hard to showcase and celebrate the distinctive wedding photography of their worldwide members.

As part of their company’s philosophy, Fearless Photographers encourages all members to make positive social change in their communities, to embody inclusive and equitable client service and to practice environmental responsibility in caring for our planet.

Fearless Photographers encourages environmental responsibility. They strives to be anti-racist, and for social justice throughout their business. They work to provide equitable access and opportunity and celebrate diversity and inclusivity.

Want to know more? Let’s Chat

 

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Informational Wedding Photography

Wedding Photos: How Much Time Do I Need?

Bridal Party at Forest Park's Grand Basin
Wedding photos are often done at the Grand Basin in Forest Park.

People love wedding photos, but  not sure how long they should take. Many people consider wedding photos to be a necessary evil of a wedding day. Brides recognize that they are necessary, but are not sure how long to build into the schedule for them.

As an aside, let me point out here that much depends on your wedding photographer. An organized and charismatic photographer makes all the difference. An organized photographer helps wedding photos go smoothly and efficiently. I put hours of planning into doing them and try to make the process as fun as possible. I have been able to photograph two large families and a bridal party in as little as 30 minutes. This was a challenge: planning for more time is always better.

Families:

For family formals I recommend 30 to 45 minutes depending on your family size. 

Bridal Party:

You should plan a half hour for bride and groom portraits. Additionally, you should plan an 30-45 minutes for bridal party photos. This, of course, varies by how large and cooperative your bridal party is.

Locations:

If we travel to additional locations for wedding photos, you will have to gather everything – and everyone – together for transport. It is a good idea to designate a friend who is not in wedding photos to do this for you. Many times we will do the family photos at the ceremony location. The bridal party often travels via party bus to other locations.

Popular Locations:

St. Louis has some BEAUTIFUL places for wedding photos, including Forest Park, Lafayette Square, Tower Grove Park, the Arch, and Carondelet Park, to name a few. BUT: popular wedding days make these locations crowded. I know of some others that are not as busy, but prettier. I could share these here, but I have to save something for those who book me!

Bubble Time:

Long lost family and friends love to visit after weddings. Often it is a challenge to keep everyone together. For that reason, so you need to allow some extra bubble time in case someone goes missing. 

These are my recommended minimum times. Obviously, bigger groups require more time. Worst case scenario is that we finish early and you have some moments to relax.

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Informational

6 Quick Questions with a St. Louis Wedding Photographer

St. Louis Wedding Photographer Matthew D Kauffmann
St. Louis Wedding Photographer Matthew D Kauffmann smiling at the camera

St. Louis Wedding Photographer Matthew Kauffmann takes time to introduce himself.

I love to read blogs, but I am horrible about writing them.
But, I recognize that it would be good for me if I did, so here it goes…generally, speaking, this will be examples of my St. Louis Wedding Photography or St. Louis Portrait Photography, and some information that will help you plan or be ready for your wedding or photography session.
As I get started, I thought it might be fun for you to get to know me as a wedding photographer…so I interviewed me, and it was fascinating!

Why did you decide to become a St. Louis wedding photographer?

I think it started because I got to play with some cool toys…but it grew because I can’t tolerate to be mediocre at anything. Later I’ve come to realize it is something I’m called to do (but I’ll spare you the theology behind it).

What is your favorite memory of a St. Louis wedding you’ve photographed?

My favorite memory is the one I’ll make at your wedding. Every wedding has moments that touch my heart, or more importantly the heart of the clients. I will never say ‘I’ve seen it all’ but at this stage it would take a lot to shock me.

What is your favorite thing about being a St. Louis wedding photographer?

My favorite thing about being a St. Louis wedding photographer is knowing that I am creating timeless art that my clients are going to treasure for generations…and I’ve gotten to the point I can do that while having a great deal of fun and lifting the spirits of those around me.

What makes you different from every other St. Louis wedding photographer?

Two things really make me stand out as a wedding photographer, and both are rooted in experience. The first is organization. I spend a lot of energy making sure I understand a client’s vision for their wedding day and then I can make that happen while taking stress off the client. The second is my artistic style. I don’t fall for the latest gimmicks or trends. My art has a timeless appeal that will be as beautiful in a decade as it is today.

What is your favorite part of a wedding?

I have two daughters so for me the favorite part of a wedding is always a father/daughter moment. I go crazy for a first-look with dad and the father-daughter dances. A close second would be any moment that is highly sentimental, but when dad is there it’s all over for me.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I am a licensed Critical Care and Community Paramedic (and Instructor). I’m one of only 3% of photographers Certified as a Professional Photographer by the Professional Photographers of America. I was also recently recognized by Canon and their Imaging Connect program.

Wow, you’ve give us so much helpful information!
Now you know a little more about me: the dude who is going to be making your next gorgeous photo!

Want to know more? Visit me HERE!

What questions should I answer in my next Quick 6?

 

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