Charles Stanley Calls Photography an ‘Awesome Opportunity to Bear Witness for the Lord’

Charles Stanley addressed fellow photographers at the Southeastern Photojournalism Conference, after receiving an award from the group for his “lifetime commitment of using photography to further the gospel of Christ.” Photo by Lauren Shelburne

Charles Stanley’s journey into photography began decades ago with a borrowed camera he had no idea how to use.

“I didn’t have a camera, and I was going on a mission trip to Haiti,” he told attendees at the 2019 Southeastern Photojournalism Conference. “My wife had the finest camera Kodak made in those days, and she said, ‘Why don’t you just take my camera?'”

With some coaching from the man seated next to him on the plane to Haiti, he learned just enough for the trip.

“I was there for about three weeks. I came home with the most incredible photos and didn’t know what I was doing most of the time.”

Stanley, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries, addressed the gathering of student and professional photojournalists after the group had presented him with an award for his “lifetime commitment of using photography to further the gospel of Christ.”

The conference, designed for Christian photojournalists to receive professional and spiritual enrichment, is in its 27th year. The Feb. 1-2 meeting was the first one held in the Southern Baptist Convention building in Nashville.

Since that long-ago Haiti trip, Stanley has become well-known for his photography, often using a photo as a sermon illustration. Books containing his work have sold thousands of copies. (See related BP story.)

For a later trip overseas, Stanley’s church took up a love offering to buy him a new Minolta camera that he used for a long time. As Stanley’s skills developed, so did his taste in cameras as well as his objective for his photography.

“Years went by, and I moved up from Minolta to Nikon to Hasselblad to today I’m at Fuji,” he said. “As I look back over the years and see how God has used [my photography], He’s opened some awesome doors of opportunity for me…. I don’t know how much you pray about your photography, but I can tell you that for me, it’s really paid off.”

The first photo Stanley ever used with a sermon was one he shot in Alaska of an eagle rising up from the water clutching a fish in its talons. After that, church members began asking to see more of his work, and he began regularly using photos as sermon illustrations. Stanley shared with conference attendees the stories of two such photos.

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Source: Baptist Press