Contemplative Vision

Photography as a Spiritual Practice

Dirk deVries

Mar/2019, 144 Pages, PAPER, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9781640651340



Your digital camera (or smart phone) can be a window to wonder—and God.

There's more to life than selfies! With the advent of digital photography and the widespread use of camera-equipped smart phones, we have all become photographers. Can the same technology that makes the upload of selfies and endless posting to Instagram and Facebook also function as a tool for quiet contemplation, connection, and deeper meaning?

Indeed yes: the practice of contemplative photography invites people of faith to set aside distractions of contemporary life to view the world through the eyes of the divine and uncover the extraordinary in the ordinary. Reflection questions, suggested activities, invitations to journal and create a volume of discovery, and original photographs taken by the author are accompanied by inspirational quotes and passages from scripture.

Providing practical guidance for photography as a means of meditation and reflection and a form of prayer, readers will be encouraged to be seekers, open and present, ready to be refreshed, renewed, and delighted.

  • Includes practical guidance, reflection questions, activities, and examples
  • Can be used by youth or adult groups or for individual spiritual practice
  • Features 61 color and black & white images

Read an excerpt

Images from inside the book

Chalk   Rcok Crystal Fibers  Chalk Blossom

Dirk deVries is a former youth pastor, Christian education director, curriculum developer, writer, and editor. A photographer, he leads workshops involving spirituality and photography, and his photos are featured on book covers, curricular resources, and calendars and sold through He is also author of the blog The 60-Second Sabbath and attends St. John's Episcopal Cathedral in Denver. He and his husband Tim are the proud parents of two cats, Romeo and Willy.

"I highly recommend this beautiful book. It offers many surprises, deep reflections, and practical ways to be creative with a camera. The author's comprehensive, yet accessible, approach to photography opens windows into our creative hearts and souls. He reminds us of the extraordinary within the ordinary and helps us to contemplate what is around us with amazement and sacred wonder, and to be a guide to these discoveries. His use of photographs throughout the book guides the reader for understanding the possibilities of one's creativity. I am delighted to read how Dirk deVries follows his imagination, and we follow his process, discovering and being surprised. As he follows his imagination in each chapter, he opens our hearts more to the beauty around us."
––John August Swanson, American visual artist

"The technical notes, personal poetry, pictures, and prose of Dirk deVries show he knows what he is talking about. There is wise advice here about welcoming (not taking) pictures and picturing stillness with the eye's lens. This book is a rollicking good read and a quiet Sabbath for the soul."
––Jerome Berryman, founder of Godly Play®

"Dirk deVrie's Contemplative Vision: Photography as a Spiritual Practice not only opened my eyes to a new way of looking through a camera lens, it opened my heart to a new way of looking at everyday objects, people, and nature as meditation. This beautifully worded book is a practical study in creating photography as a holy process. A must-read for every photographer who wants to see more through the camera lens."
–– Deborah Bell Rodahaffer, Minister for Parish Life, The Episcopal Church of the Advent, Louisville, Kentucky

"Dirk shares specific tangible photography techniques and invites us to use them to deepen our relationship with ourselves, with each other, with our world and with God. Every chapter offers possibilities for seeing in a new way and discovering God in doing so. His book has embarked me on a new journey which I am extremely grateful for."
––Martha Gardner, Missioner for Networking and Formation, The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

"This simple and profound book will help you to see holiness with an expanded vision, first by inviting you to refocus the lens of your mind, and then by inviting you to refocus the lens of your camera. Dirk deVries masterfully teaches us not just how to practice photography in a contemplative manner, but indeed life itself."
––The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner, Founder, The Living Compass Wellness Initiative

Table of Contents
Part 1: Cultivating Contemporary Vision
Chapter 1: A New Role for Photography
Chapter 2: A Spirituality of Shutting Up (Stillness and Silence)
Chapter 3: Welcome to the Now (Presence and Mindfulness)
Chapter 4: Contemplative Intention (Emptiness and Receptivity)
Chapter 5: Seeing Again for the Very First Time (Attention and Observation)
Chapter 6: Honoring Your Perception (Your Experience Is Your Experience)
Chapter 7: No Such Thing as Commonplace (Nothing Is Exempt)
Part 2: The Practice of Contemplative Photography
Chapter 8: The Basic Tools
Chapter 9: A Basic Approach
Part 3: A Dozen Invitations
Chapter 10: Photography without the Camera
Chapter 11: Single-Element Study
Chapter 12: Single-Subject Study
Chapter 13: Single-Location Study
Chapter 14: Close-Ups and Macros
Chapter 15: Visual Metaphors
Chapter 16: Telling a Story
Chapter 17: Self-Portrait
Chapter 18: Visio Divina
Chapter 19: Reflection and Refraction
Chapter 20: Black and White
Chapter 21: Abstraction
Conclusion: On Being and Seeing
Part 4: Resources

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  • Photography
  • spirituality
  • contemplative practices
  • meditation
  • Christian life
  • mindfulness

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