A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

What a Picture Is Worth

Posted on: August 11, 2014

Back in June, inspired as I flipped through its pages, I decided to buy the A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman.

One suggestion I’ve been trying out is the thirty-day self-portrait challenge. The good news: I’m learning more about capturing good photos, shooting from different angles and editing my pictures. The bad news: I often dislike the pictures I’ve taken.

More often than not, I look at the photo on my iPod and—after cringing, wincing or wrinkling my nose—delete it and try again, thinking, “Maybe the next picture I take will be worth saving.”


Hmm…will I keep this picture or delete it?

We can be our own harshest critics, especially if we measure ourselves against pop culture’s standards of beauty. For women, that might mean having an impossibly thin frame, pouty lips, and ridiculously long lashes; for men, it might mean being taller than average, with at least a six-pack of ab muscles—and maybe even a few tattoos.

If we don’t like what we see, or if we worry about how others see us, we need to bring to mind the words of 1 Samuel 16:7*: “(F)or the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Still, I think a self-portrait challenge can reward us with something besides better photographic technique or greater ease when faced with a camera: a reminder of God’s creativity.

Just consider the variety of skin tones, eye and hair colours, and body shapes. The personalities, skills and feelings we possess and express. The diversity of languages spoken and viewpoints held. The ability to innovate in many spheres of activity. Of all the possible skills and physical, mental and emotional traits, a unique set came together in each one of us. As we read in Psalm 139:14, may we be able to pray, “I praise you, for I am wondrously made.”

The next time we look at pictures of ourselves with a critical eye, I pray that we would stop focussing on the things we don’t like but instead hold onto verses such as the ones above and these words from Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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