Photography is fundamentally painting with light. Using the tools of the camera and computer, I craft light and pixels to create worlds that exalt and reflect the master Designer. Your journey through the constructed imagery is an exploration of the gospel of Jesus Christ as told through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. My goal is to encourage believers and non-believers to meditate on the ancient truths of the Scriptures in a personally relevant, contemporary context. My prayer is that my artistic exploration may also help you to know the loving God, the Author of light, in a personal and eternal relationship.
Dust to Life is a Fine Art genre project with the intent to communicate biblical truth in an artistic outlet. I am working with a narrative concept using constructed artistic involvement. My primary actual subject is expressive with secondary illustrative and statement-oriented actual subjects.
Photography is a powerful art capable of conveying the truths in Scripture more effectively than the written word alone. My intent is to communicate the resolution of these truths through my own visual interpretation of God’s Word. My literal subject matter consists of myself in various contemporary attire using different props that connect with the chosen Scripture passages. While the project is NOT about me, I am portraying my themes in a self-portrait project which made the connection to my message stronger and deeply linked with my personal concept.
The Bible passages were selected from my personal study Bible and verses that I find to be either challenging or encouraging to my walk in the faith. My goal is to show how the Bible is intertwined and vital to everything I do as a follower of Christ, persevering over sin, and living a life set apart to God who promises me a mansion in heaven. As a believer, how I apply Scripture to daily, practical decisions radically impacts my interactions with my family, friends, and foes forever.
My objective is to communicate my expressive actual subject by using Bible verse inspirations and visualizing these biblical truths in a contemporary fashion while I lead my audience through the entire Bible. My goal is to connect my personal life’s quest in a way that other Christians will be able to relate personally to their own spiritual walk. I am seeking to connect the contemporary quest of a Christian throughout his or her spiritual walk similar to the classic allegorical fiction novel Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I hope to make my viewers contemplate the importance of applying Scripture every day to their spiritual journey as a good follower of Jesus Christ. There may be a sense of persuasiveness, but this will not be my primary intended outcome.
My goal is to communicate the Christian journey from the moment of creation to my soul’s glorification as described throughout the Bible. Those who have lived through similar trials and temptations will be able to relate to the failures and victories seen through the progression of the images. The one-word titles and the inspirational Bible verses are an important part of understanding my intended interpretation. While the scenes are not actual Biblical accounts, the truths are apparent through gesture, props, and dramatic elements like water, earth, fire, and wind.
My main intended audience will be Christians who can relate to forgiveness from sin and who are pressing forward for victory in Christ. To believers, the message will be challenging, encouraging, and spiritually uplifting. Unbelievers may be able to appreciate the aesthetics but may not understand the conceptual messages as clearly. Though I would be elated if the visual representation would open an unbeliever’s eyes to believe the truth of God’s Word. In contrast to some religious artwork, the intended purpose of the project is to convey a positive message to build up biblical beliefs and truths rather than demeaning or questioning the existence of God and the afterlife.
My reasoning for the Fine Art genre is so I can be free to express my strong personal beliefs and interpretations of biblical truths without using obvious takeaways that often accompany Commercial genre work. I have learned to use some wry humor and simplicity that does cross over into the Commercial genre style.
I am using both low and high keyed compositions with minimal separation in background and subject. Much of my project uses different angles and dramatic lighting that is keyed from the back or side. The light has a harder shadow edge transfer to help communicate the dramatic moods of the scenes. At times the lost and found contour lighting requires the viewer to piece the imagery together psychologically.
For most of the composite components in the montage process, the elements were photographed on a solid black or white background. This allowed me to effective mask and combine my subjects while using blending modes appropriately for the polished editing processing.
The framing is mostly active so the edges of the frame can create some tension and conclusion while emphasizing the photographer’s involvement with the work. I use lighting and compositional placement to show depth and avoid leveling the balance.
Dust to Life is being exhibited in churches and galleries around the country. If you are interested in a showing for your church or gallery, please make a request using the Contact page.
The gospel makes a person into a new creature, where old things are passed away, and all things are become new (II Corinthians 5:17). It is this gospel which brings us forgiveness of sins and assurance of eternal life in heaven (I John 5:13). This gospel is God’s message for all mankind. What is this gospel that is visualized in Dust to Life?
ADMIT you are a sinner, separated from God, and your sin must be punished by eternal death.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
BELIEVE that Jesus, God’s sinless son, took that punishment on the cross for you, and He rose from the dead and lives in heaven, wanting you to receive His forgiveness.
Romans 10:9, 10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
CALL upon the Lord, in faith, to save you.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
DENY that you can do anything to help save yourself. Nothing, whether good works, church membership, baptism, or anything else, can help you earn forgiveness and a place in God’s heaven. Salvation is only by grace received through faith in what God says in His word, the Bible.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
Print, Process, & Capture Specifications
I shot the project digitally using the RAW file format and manual exposure on the 20 megapixel Canon 6D and various Canon lenses. Most of the pictures consist of four or more pictures using the digital format, which worked best because it allowed for an easier method of creating montages in Photoshop that many times consisted of 20 or more layers. Using Smart Objects on the original RAW files allow for subtle transitions in exposure, blur, sharpness, and color to blend the elements to create one unified piece. In Adobe Photoshop I used individual adjustment layers and clipping masks to assist in the fine details of compositing of each piece. The digital montage techniques represent the marriage of the physical and spiritual realms to visualize my concepts and beliefs in a way they could not be completed another other way.
My prints were printed at White House Custom Color. The custom-made portfolio box alludes that all of us came from dirt and our bodies will return to dirt after eternal souls leave our bodies. The final project consists of nineteen 12”x18” lustre prints dry mounted on 3mm white styrene with the absence of glass hinting at the direct relationship of prayer between the physical and spiritual worlds.
I enjoyed the challenge and excitement of working with the lighting, costuming, and posing of my projects. Reflecting recently, I found my early days of stop-motion animation helped me to make sure the little details were crafted well. Not being a good pen and paper artist, I am now empowered to create art that I see in my mind’s eye using photography instead. Pre-visualizing of the completed post-production work is something that comes easy for me now. Before this project I had almost never used a 1×1 aspect ratio. The old square formatting stylistic choice helped challenge me to push my exploration of composition. Eventually I changed to the 3×2 ratio that helped create more cinematic themes. I found the exploring of implementing Scripture passages directly onto the imagery to be a valuable exercise in learning more about style and blending modes in Photoshop. Thanks to the advanced Photoshop classes and lots of trial and error, I have grown so much in my ability to create using blending modes, masks, and selection techniques.
The germ idea for this project dates back to the fall of 2013 in Photography Concept with Shannon Ayres. He pushed me to explore what was most important to me. It was during Ayres’ class I started shooting conceptual pictures of my brother in authentic Roman armor. My early digital montage work needed vast improvement so I took Digital Montage in the spring of 2014. My Advanced Photoshop directed study in the Fall of 2016 prepared me even more for the level of detailed work I needed. Now I have become even more passionate with the connection behind my spiritual concept, grounded by my faith and my love for the art of photography. After passing the Midpoint Review, I continued to study more of the artists and photographers who have inspired me. This awareness of the great masters of the camera helped me improve and refine my own unique style.
Though the project is now complete, I look forward to continually learning more ways in the production and post-production processes to make future work better. I truly believe this Thesis Project was the most worthwhile project I could have chosen. Looking back I can see how the Lord worked out the details and gave me strength to bring me to completion of my terminal MFA Photography degree through the Academy of Art University.