Why I’m Grateful for Photography

An inspiring message about the Healing Powder of Gratitude was shared with me. I’ve included the video below, which invites everyone to “flood” social media with a week’s worth of gratitude. This invitation made me ponder and try to better understand ‘what things I’m grateful for’. The story behind this invitation and prayer of gratitude itself is rooted in inspiration.

This message is shared by President Russell M. Nelson, the prophet and spiritual leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. President Nelson is a physician by trade. In fact he was one of the people on the research team that developed the first heart-lung machine that paved the way for human open-heart operations. Then by inspiration and designated order he was sustained and set apart as the prophet in 2018.

Since then (as well as before, when he was serving as one of the twelve apostles) he has traveled to numerous nations and ministered to countless people.

Meeting an Apostle

I had the opportunity once to meet President Russel M. Nelson.

It would’ve been back around 2004 at a church meeting in Texas. I was serving a church mission at the time.

Speaking of photography, my mission companions and I were trying to track him down to get a picture with him, since he was serving as one of the twelve apostles at the time. We were excited to meet someone we had heard speak and testify many times during the church’s General Conferences.

He was very kind and willing to pause and let us young missionaries get a photography with him.

That was a cool experience, but what stuck with me more was the testimony he shared during the church service that followed. I don’t recall the specific words but the feeling and message have always stuck with me. He talked about the solution to our problems, whatever they might be, was to turn to the Savior Jesus Christ. A simple but universal truth that I’ve tried to apply since then.

What Do I want to Give Thanks For?

It may seem a bit trifle, being grateful for photography. Shouldn’t I be writing about being grateful for my family, health, faith, and countless other things?

While I’m very grateful for ALL of those things, I feel like there’s an important principle in recognizing blessing in our life that we are less aware of. These things take a deeper dive into our thoughts. A more concerted effort to explore what things we have or have to give.

As we do this we not only gain a greater appreciation for what those things are but we see the multitude of blessings that God has given us. The depth of His love in the details.

Why I’m Grateful for Photography

For me, right now, I want to express my gratitude for this hobby and gift. My hope is that it inspires you to spend some time reflecting on what things, lying beneath the surface of your awareness, bring you joy and thanksgiving.

I enjoyed photography when I was younger. In middle school I took a photography class where we got to work in the dark room and develop our our photos. That’s probably where I found a love and ability to look at things from a lot of different angles. As I spent hours attempting to get an image I liked.

After that my photography interest would kind of come and go. There would be periods of time where I was really into it and stretches of time where I was interested in other things. Yet whenever I’d put a camera in my hands that love of exploring and experimenting would resurface.

As I got back into photography more regularly I not only rekindled that love of the craft but found it to be a well spring for other passions. For example, my interest in photography lead me to learn Photoshop, which I’ve been able to use many times for school, work, and as a space to create and share. In fact just last night I finished editing some photos for a family member that they are using as a gift.

As I took the invitation to contemplate what I wanted to ‘give thanks’ for I came up with this list. Many more things than I would have guessed from a simple hobby and passion.

Photography Helps Me...


• Focus on and understand light

• Focus on and understand light

Light = Knowledge   &   Shadow = Opportunity to Learn

Photography is all about using light. Although shadow is also part of image composition. It's a wonderful exploration of understanding how much light is available to you and then mastering how to make use of that light to create something beautiful. 

Shadow, or lack of detail, creates intrigue and represents the unknown. Every good picture requires some balance of the two.

landscape photo of pathway between green leaf trees

Photo by Skitterphoto on


• Have joy by sharing my talent

• Have joy by sharing my talent

Joy comes from service

Within each of us there is a innate desire to create. I believe that comes from our Father in Heaven. In part I think we have that desire to create in order to share with others. 

woman using slr camera

Photo by Matt Hardy on


• Capture special moments

• Capture special moments

This one can be a bit tricky sometimes. For me sometimes it's easy to get distracted by taking pictures rather than enjoying the moment. Although if we take time to be present as we capture those moments they can stay with us.

happy asian kids traveling in car

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on


• Look back and remember

• Look back and remember

A photo can spark a thousand memories

As we capture those special moments it's just as important to remember them. Taking time to remember and reflect on the past helps us better appreciate our current circumstances.

close up of vintage photographs

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on


• Enjoy the beauty that surrounds me

• Enjoy the beauty that surrounds me

'There is beauty all around...'

Photography makes me further explore the beauty of what surrounds me. For example, the amazing intricates of this leaf. Without this photo many of us would simply be unaware of the beauty that exists in such a simple object.

abstract art artistic autumn

Photo by Pixabay on


• Have the opportunity to create

• Have the opportunity to create

Creating something brings more fulfilment to our lives, especially when we choose to share it with someone. 

clear glass jar filled of coloring pens beside of white sketch pad

Photo by Jessica Lewis on


• Continue to learn and strive to improve

• Continue to learn and strive to improve

The purpose of our life is to improve and get better. Photography, as with many hobbies, drives us to keep learning and finding new ways to get better. 

black and white blackboard business chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on


• Look at the world in different ways

• Look at the world in different ways

When trying to find that perfect angle to get a really unique and beautiful shot, a photographer will look at all the different angles. Every now and then it's important for us to look at something from another perspective. 

low angle photo of four high rise curtain wall buildings under white clouds and blue sky

Photo by Philipp Birmes on


• Have a greater appreciations for what I photograph

• Have a greater appreciations for what I photograph

The more we spend time with something the more we tend to appreciate it

Good photography takes time.  From months and years of testing and experimenting with your camera gear to hours and days waiting for the light or conditions you need to get the shot. Putting so much focus and attention on what you're trying to photograph helps you see more than just what's on the surface.

smiling woman taking photos on professional photo camera in forest

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on


• Feel inspiration & experience encouragement

• Feel inspiration & experience encouragement

Photos cut across cultures, time, and space. An image can communicate the joy of a moment or the sorrow of a tragedy. Moments that many wouldn't experience otherwise. But with a photo capturing the emotions of the moment it can live on and inspire generations for years to come.

The Real Meaning of Photography

Photography is such a great blessing in my life. For you it may be something else, although the metaphor of photography can relate to something for each of us.

Photography is about understanding some guiding principles and then applying them. With photography there’s the outside force of light that we are trying to understand. It’s then up to the photographer to use their gear to apply common principles of the craft.

From Shutter Speed and Aperture to the sensitivity of the ISO. A photographer uses a combination of these tools to create an endless variety of images. Each with their own unique voice and style. Which is not for us to judge as “good or bad” but to appreciate the person behind the image. 

Hopefully expressing our gratitude can be one of the guiding principles we focus on during this season of our lives!