OCD is a lot more than just "perfectionism", but I did want to focus on how these specific tendencies have affected my faith and my relationship with The Church.
Each section or "act" in this story is divided by about 1 inch in print while each photo in each act is separated by exactly half as much, making each act a perfect square. Act One represents a crisis of faith I had in the winter of 2016; Act Two represents a turning point I came to during my mission; Act Three represents my relationship with my faith now.
I hope visitors may also be able to find their own story, either in this arrangement or later after they leave. Maybe you’re in your Act Two or find yourself in the throes of your own Act One.
life is a journey, and change is constant.
The first photo in Act 1 is the silhouette of a church building near my mission headquarters in Daejeon, Korea taken near the evening.
Growing up, my obsession with religious perfection made The Church a shadow that frequently hung over my head instead of a promised refuge.
This second image I like to call "American Religion" was taken in downtown Salt Lake next to the "Eagle Gate" over the north end of the intersection of State and South Temple. I pass by this sight just about every day, so "American Religion" has about 4 different iterations. However, for aesthetic reasons I chose this one taken at sunset during the summer.
As I continued through life, constantly worried that my salvation depended on making sure myself and everyone around me was perfect, I started to see more and more that this shadow was far from the vision of perfection I believed in. I became critical of church leadership which began to strain my relationship with God.
I take a sunrise hike every year up Ensign Peak; it's one of my favorite traditions. But, the first year I did it, I was met with a snowstorm that heavily diffused the light. This photo was taken on the way down. There was just something beautiful about this melancholy image.
As my concerns about The Church and my own imperfections grew I started to emotionally isolate. Life became cold, the sky was dark, and I was alone.
This scene was captured on a serene afternoon in Gwangju, Korea. Shortly after I had gotten the DSLR I still use, I was out walking with my companion and found the colors in front of me to be perfect. The man on the bike and his expression were just a result of luck and good timing. This is one of my favorite photographs I have ever taken.
As I began to reconcile my mind with my soul, I found myself free and at peace. I could close my eyes and glide forward through the walkways of life.
The only film photograph of this set, is an image of a Christus statue being lit only by the angled light of a nearby window. One of my first and one of my favorites as far as film photography goes. The soft-ish focus and the naturally high contrast complement each other rather well in my opinion.
Eventually, I was able to find myself going back to basics, and turning towards the source of it all: Jesus Christ. He (and he alone) became a light out of the shadows. Finally, I found peace.
Taken strictly as an exposure test in Damyang, Korea, I later found that this photo grew on me the more I looked at it. Simply titled "Pots", this disparate yet calming arrangement of pottery just makes me smile when I look at it.
With my new perspective, I found that The Church wasn't a vision of perfection like I had led myself to believe, but a varied and sometimes disorganized community. If I could learn to accept that, I could make a home here.
There was a member in my very last area, not quite totally active, and not perfectly obedient. Yet, he was kinder and a lot more endearing than his more "perfectly obedient" counterparts. This member loved the missionaries and even celebrated my last night in Namwon with us via a dinner at a local bodega and an impromptu karaoke performance in the rented out commercial space we used as a chapel.
I found community in The Church. Where there was previously loneliness there was now friendship. I made a religious home for myself and now walk a narrow but broken road with many just like myself.
2019 was my first year home from my mission and my first year living in Downtown Salt Lake. Naturally, I took the opportunity to capture the lights at temple square as an obligation seeing as the lights would not be as present during temple construction.
What was a shadow was now light. Wherever isolation thrived, community was born. With a new perspective I found myself facing the shadow again and instead finding my promised refuge.