Available Light: Awakening Spirituality through Photography
By: Rev. David Tinney and Rev. Denise McGuiness
About the Book
The seeds of this book began when David and Denise worked together for eight years as clergy at a middle-sized church in Vancouver, Washington. David was the senior pastor, but before his call to ministry, he had been a professional photographer. Denise was an ordained deacon, working as a pastoral psychologist and spiritual director in the community. In her spare time, photography served as an artistic outlet.
From the authors: “We have divided the book into ten different chapters: mindfulness, appreciating light, befriending the shadow, simplicity, rediscovering wonder, intimacy, slowing down, cropping, redemptive photography and final lessons. Each chapter includes reflection questions and photographic assignments that are designed to help you put the chapter’s spiritual discipline and theme into action. By engaging in these practices, we hope you will find yourself delving more deeply into the beauty of creation, with a heightened sense of the divine shimmering through each image you discover.”
May this book bless you on your spiritual journey.
Denise and David
(2020, hardback, 78 pages)
In the last year, my spiritual journey has involved the study of different ancient practices. While I had learned of Lectio Divina (divine reading), I only recently discovered the concept of Visio Divina (divine seeing). So, I was delighted when I heard about Available Light: Awakening Spirituality Through Photography. While using religious icons or other paintings to meditate is typical, exploring the divine with photos of everyday places, people and things that anyone with a smartphone can capture, puts the Holy within reach of us all! With lots of tips for the photographers among us, Available Light also encourages the casual shutterbug to take more time and care with their smartphone/idiot camera to really SEE the wonderous creation in which we live. Revs. McGuiness and Tinney lead the reader through the practice of Visio Divina thoughtfully, intentionally. In addition to a full explanation of the practice, they have included exemplar photos of their own, questions for reflection, as well as tips and tasks for those wanting to practice Visio Divina through their own lens. A great personal resource, Available Light would make an excellent group study for a Sunday school and I plan to suggest it to mine!
- Andrea Croskery
"This beautifully organized book is a wonderful combination of spiritual practice and a 'how to' in taking photographs. I spent time basking in the beauty of each of the multiple photographs in the book and going deeper in spiritual practice through asking myself the questions supplied by the authors. I look forward to coming back to this book time and time again during my daily quiet time. I hope to use the tips given in the book to create my own photographs in the future. I highly recommend this book.”
- Roberta Egli
"From Alaska to Arizona to Africa and everywhere in between, Tinney and McGuiness take us on a journey of the soul, showing us the Divine in both the extraordinary and the mundane. Their photos are windows into ourselves as well as into the heart of God, and their meditations are deeply personal and universal at the same time. I cannot say enough about this book--stunning, exquisite, heart-breaking, inspiring, startling. Anyone on a spiritual journey will love this book, whether they are photographers or not.”
- Sue Magrath, author of Healing the Ravaged Soul: Tending the Spiritual Wounds of Child Sexual Abuse
Nice Balance of beautiful photography, some technical suggestions, and great reflective questions
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2020
I was gifted this book by a former parishioner. I've been adopting photography as a new hobby in recent years and am always delighted by the way that photography can be an entry into new and deeper forms of communion with nature and with God. This book is full of great photographs and some handy suggestions about how to improve as a photographer, but my favorite parts are the reflection questions which invite you to do your own wondering about topics such as mindfulness, shadows, light, simplicity, Visio Divina and more.
- Rev. Dr. Paul Lang
"Even if you never pick up a camera, this book pushes you to see in new ways, to look past the obvious and truly “behold” the world.
It works better, of course, if you have a camera, but David Tinney and Denise McGuiness haven’t written a book for those who obsess over megapixels and focal lengths. Instead, they want you to use a camera–and the images it produces–to better see the world and better understand your place in it. In that process, they’re betting, new revelations of the divine will emerge as you playfully ponder what’s inside the frame.
There are elements of composition, such as the use of shadow and the wonder of available light, that they leverage into wonderful discussions of how to discover holiness, redemption, and intimacy in photographic images.
They tell stories of how they came to learn the discipline necessary to capture good photos, in the process rediscovering wonder and better appreciating surprise. For someone wanting to take their faith journey to the next level, this is a wonderful guide to using photography as a spiritual practice."
- Rev. Paul Jeffrey, Photojournalist for United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries