Looking at God Through A Lens

Early Rokkifex camera owned by my father-in-law, John Ckubb (1912 t0 1966)

Perpetual motion. When you buy a new camera you register it to activate the warranty. Doing that makes you the recipient of endless emails from the manufacturer that encourage you to buy a new camera, which you would then register to activate the warranty only to be encouraged to buy an even newer one, and on and on it goes.

This week’s promotional email from my nameless camera manufacturer introduced me to the work of the American photographer Karen Hutton. In a short video she says some startling things about photography that stopped me from thinking about equipment. She directed me to something far more important: the act of looking carefully. She says:

Photographs capture the spark of divine power in light and time. landscapes and nature light bounces off the soul of the place.

In the landscapes of the created world we are in the presence of the beautiful, epic, illuminating, poetic, and divine.

Photographs have the power to ignite a spark of divine fire in others so that we can all watch it shine.

Interestingly, the camera manufacturer is promoting something that doesn’t need one of their products, since the kind of looking that Karen Hutton talks about requires no equipment at all.

She reminds us that whenever we stop to look carefully, we will always be surprised. And this is also the grandeur that Gerard Manley Hopkins evokes throughout his poetry: “all this juice and joy”, “brute beauty”, “all things counter, original, spare, strange”, “dewy fields under the morning sun”, “sulphur-coloured lilies, brittle in stalk”, “still purpling centreings of cloud”, “azurous hung hills”…

Not of all my eyes see, wandering on the world,

Is anything a milk to the mind so, so sighs deep

Poetry to it, as a tree whose boughs break in the sky.

(from Ashboughs)

Here’s link to Karen Hutton’s work and an introductory video (this is not the promotional video from my camera company!)


Ottawa-based author and editor, Kevin Burns is a frequent contributor to igNation. His latest book, Impressively Free – Henri Nouwen as a Model for a Reformed Priesthood and co-authored with Michael W. Higgins, has just been released by Paulist Press in the United States and by Novalis in Canada.

  • Paul Baker
    Posted at 09:43h, 04 June Reply

    Kevin, thanks for the article and introducing me to the photography of Karen Hutton. I very much agree with your seeing the work of the Creator through the image of the lens of a camera. Without a camera you can train your eyes to frame what you see. If what you see is awesome enough, it is an invitation for you to stop, look and see. As the saying goes, “Take it in.” In a July 23, 2018 igNation posting, Stations of Creation I share similar reflections to yours.

  • Karen Arthurs
    Posted at 10:47h, 04 June Reply

    Karen Hutton espresses and captures it all so well. Thank you. The view refreshes with a divine start to any day.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 11:21h, 04 June Reply

    Thank you Kevin!

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