"Faith is a passionate intuition." —William Wordsworth
"Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking." —Khalil Gibran
"Skepticism is the beginning of Faith." —Oscar Wilde
What inspires you? What do you believe in?
The complexity of nature, the love of family, the power of art? Divinity and a community of worship? Charity for those in need? The simplicity of grace?
Show us. Send us images that illuminate why you feel connected to a force larger than yourself and what has the power to conjure deep, sacred feelings for you.
Thank you for your contributions!
Action and Layering
It is truly inspirational to see the heartfelt images that have been flowing in. Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to consider what faith means to you and to find just the right images to tell us. I’ve also enjoyed reading your comments and seeing the conversations that spring up in the discussion thread:
“What is it that keeps you going, even in your darkest hour? This is faith.”
“I believe that some things you see with your eyes and others you see with your heart … Faith is like an inner trust, something you feel, and maybe you can see it around you, but maybe you can't.”
“My personal interpretation of faith: Kindness. Kindness is a universal language … No matter what you believe, be kind to one another!!!”
“I have faith in the powerful instinct of motherhood. And faith in the power of knowledge.”
“It's scary, really, to place one's faith in a creature that's extremely unpredictable. And yet, we all do so at different stages in our lives and relationships—parent, sibling, friend, employer, spouse/soulmate.”
“The most singular, universal truth throughout every religion in the entire world is the concept of Love.”
“For me, Faith is the strongest link between the God and man.
And Faith is what illumines darkness.”
“I think this is why photography can be such a sacred experience, because it brings us into that moment of being completely present with whatever it is we are observing … experiencing that ‘oneness’ as we practice our art.”
Two elements caught my eye today while I was editing: action and layering. They can be tough to incorporate, as you know, but they added satisfying dimensions to a lot of the images I saw. By the nature of this assignment, many submissions recorded still, contemplative moments, so the energy of motion was refreshing—a swirl of Hindu pilgrims surrounding a temple, a fire dancer, wind blowing Tibetan prayer flags. And the complexity of frames with layers—seeing the scene framed by birds or a window, or in a reflection—added a richness that kept my attention.
I’m slowly—very slowly—making my way through all of your photographs. It’s such a pleasure, almost a form of meditation for me. I’m looking forward to more images and comments in this last week.
It's About the Feeling
Even though our August cover story on Pope Francis and his arrival in the U.S. today were the catalysts for this assignment on faith, my hope was that your images would go beyond the conventionally religious. I wanted to encourage even the atheists among you to contemplate the question of what inspires you. But I have to tell you all, I’m seeing a lot of churches in this assignment …
Dave Yoder, who shot our Vatican feature, sent in more than 67,000 images. So you can imagine how many pictures I’ve seen of St. Peter’s Basilica and of religious ceremonies.
I’ll admit that I did favorite a few of your church (and mosque and temple) images. But I’m much more drawn to the unexpected frames, the ones that intrigue me and force me to ask, Why is this meaningful to the photographer? I’m ready to be surprised.
(Just remember, when the subject is not obviously religious, the caption is crucial in explaining to me why the image spoke to you of faith.)
No matter what the subject is, it shouldn’t have to carry the image on its own—the frame must be visually powerful as well. Think about how the light can evoke a feeling of reverence or mysticism or deep gratitude. Or how an unfamiliar angle, movement, or dramatic composition can force us to look again at that scene we’ve all encountered before. Please don’t send in a photograph of a landscape or of a place of worship if it looks like a postcard. I want you to transform whatever you photograph (even a church!) by seeing it differently from everyone else, so that I feel the way you do when you see that place or that person who means so much to you.
This month’s assignment came out of our August cover story on Pope Francis and the Vatican, but we’d like to expand the invitation to encompass a global community of all faiths, and beyond religion as well, to include any moment spiritual to you.
For the National Geographic story, written by Robert Draper, photographer Dave Yoder attended the pope’s weekly general audiences and captured the fervor and delight of the pilgrims who waited to welcome him. We can see how much this encounter means to them. And now we’d like to see what is meaningful to you.
How do you see faith? We welcome your photographs—surprise us and inspire us!