Here’s my forward from The Ragamuffin Gospel written on April 2, 2000.
For me, there always seems to be a generous amount of grace attached to the making of a good photograph – especially when it pertains to portraiture.
I can prepare by doing film and camera tests, researching and learning all I can about the subject, and arriving at the location early for a good assessment of the light. Preparation aside, if the person in front of lens chooses not to let down his or her guad and enter in, the session is over becfore it begins. Even with the most willing subject, it still amazes me that when I raise the camera to my eye, I cam be overcome by a wave of helplessness and fear and wonder if any of these images will actually turn out.
Then something happens: The shutter releases, the first frame is exposed, and a certain amount of peace sets in. With that peace comes the realization that once again grace has been given for the journey. As the session winds to a close twenty, thirty, maybe forty rolls later, my helplessness and fear have disappeared, having been replaced (on my better days) with thankfulness and wonder.
In these two photographs, Brennan Manning and Rich Mullins are sitting outside on the steps. Outside seems to be an appropriate place for them. Outside you can breathe. It’s not that being inside is especially bad; it’s just easier to hide there. Society as a whole has become expert at concealment – a word that doesn’t seem to be a part of Brennen or Rich’s vocabulary. These two have a certain bond – a brotherhood of the transparent. They know, all too well, the secret handshake of the broken and so much more embrace that much more fully the arms or grace extended.
It was a honor to photograph them. My hope is that these two photographs will serve to remind us all that, because of God’s faithfulness, grace is always given for the journey.