Portraits In Faith Documents The Spiritual Journeys Of 500 People
When I was 36-years-old, I found myself on my knees, praying to a God I did not know and asking for help. My challenges with relationships, work, and "life" brought me to this moment of crisis. Motivated by this search to fill the "God-sized hole" in my life, I did not know where it would lead. I felt that if he did not develop some type of spiritual faith, I would die.
In order to keep this newfound sense of faith alive and to learn from the wisdom of others, I created a spiritual exercise out of interviewing people around the world about the role of faith in changing their lives. As a photographer, I captured a moment with each person in a black and white portrait meant to evoke their true spirit.
Over the next 18 years, I would add personal days onto my global business trips as a Marketing Director for Procter & Gamble to conduct these interviews. To date, I’ve interviewed and made portraits of 500 people in 25 countries.
Portraits in Faith is not about religion. It is about documenting the role of spiritual experience inside and outside of formal religion, expected and unexpected, told in people’s own words, and brought to life with video and photography. The message of Portraits In Faith is that despite all the negative press on faith in the world today, faith is a powerful healer, transformer, and changer of lives. The overriding message is that however one calls God (Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Higher Power, The Divine, Creative Intelligence, etc) there is a greater force that connects us all and it is good for each person to find a path that leads to a faith that works for them. To spark these interviews, I ask all participants six questions:
Tell me about your earliest memory of faith.
What was the first time in your life you felt like you had to or chose to rely upon God (as you understand God)?
Tell me about a time you doubted your faith and what happened.
What are you most grateful for?
What is your greatest wish?
Do you have a message?
Portraits In Faith is now a nonprofit, and expanding from the publishing of the portraits to creating experiences that teach “sacred listening” and helping people discover that there is no “Other.” This week, Portraits In Faith is also launching the pre-sale Kickstarter of its long-awaited photography book that features the first 125 published portraits and interviews in the project. We hope to use the book to fund new initiatives at Portraits in Faith, including interactive workshops on “sacred listening”. I hope these portraits and stories bring you to a new awareness of yourself and all of humanity.
Maha Khawaja was encouraged by her mother to take off her hijab and abbaye for two
weeks when they moved from Saudi Arabia to Dubai in order for her to decide herself if
she wanted to wear them (which she did).
Susi Doring was travelling the world when she met an Israeli. She moved to Israel to be
with him but he got killed in military service before they were married. Not being Jewish
or married she had to decide what her future would be.
Edwin is an indigenous man in Panama, living in the village of Embera Puru. He had to
confront his alcoholism in order to live.
Yoon Yong Sang
Yoon Yong Sang is a Buddhist monk in Seoul, Korea who was wrongfully accused of
embezzlement and sent to prison. He used the time in prison to train his mind and his
body to heal.
Davi da Silva
Davi Da Silva is a Pentecostal Christian in São Paulo, Brazil who felt called to help
people of the “underground” culture to be fully accepted in mainstream religion. He and
his wife, Julia, have a Christian death metal band called Death Snake.
If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today.
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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.