SDI Webinar: Contemplative Photography & Spiritual Companionship
(Participate live and/or watch the video recordings at your convenience)
Exciting News - Diane Millis has just joined as a guest presenter
Learn how to use any camera as a gateway to contemplative life.
Discover a potent spiritual practice to use with those you companion.
Honor your individual way of seeing and embrace positive critique.
Access intention, intuition and wonder through the lens.
Join an on-line group to share photos and get feedback.
- Designed for novice and experienced photographers.
Please join us.
Photography is perhaps the most accessible of art forms. An estimated 2.5 billion people around the world carry an easy-to-use, high-performing camera with them every day as part of their smart phones. Photos cost almost nothing to make and share. And Instagram offers a digital gallery to anyone with internet access.
Yet few of us who offer spiritual care see our cameras as part of our calling, as potential tools for deeper awareness and presence.
This 4-part webinar series is designed to show how anyone can use a camera to awaken spiritually. To seek compassion. To embrace wonder. To invoke intention, intuition, perception, connection and yes, mystery, in the quest to make an image that resonates with people and draws them deeper towards direct experience with the numious.
SDI Creative Director, photographer and artist Matt Whitney will host this educational journey, aided by a quartet of talented photographers and spiritual companions.
This webinar offers hands-on, experiential learning. We’ll review basic camera operation, offered as a way to help beginners demystify the use of a camera. We'll offer compositional tips to help you make more aesthetically pleasing images. Spiritual directors and companions will be supported to develop a new practice, encouraging those they companion to do their own contemplative photography. All participants will be invited to use the image as a medium through which to discern the intimate and the infinite in our life journeys. And all participants will have a chance to show and share their own work.
What to Expect
- How photography can help us find compassion and embrace wonder
- Contemplative practice: how to find and honor your own way of seeing; visual discernment
- Basic photo practices: what to look for, what is “interesting”, some tips from established contemplative photographers
- The process of positive critique (companionship): sharing our work, responding to others' work - being generative, affirming.
- Seeing and receiving the moment (practice)
- Discerning the best of your photos (appreciation, gratitude)
- Sharing photo with others (sharing our story)
- Viewing others’ photos (deep listening)
- Listening to what another person sees as a means to help them toward self-discovery (companionship)
- In addition, we will create a special Facebook Group limited to webinar participants, so they can post their own photos and create a supportive community for this contemplative expression (community)
Who should take this webinar series
If you offer spiritual care of any kind - or if you are in training to offer such care - this webinar series is for you.
If you already love photography and contemplative practice, this series offers safe practice and community.
And this series is particularly valuable to those with little or no experience with photography or those of us who feel we do not have an artistic outlet of any kind. If you long for a creative practice as a way of manifesting your contemplative practice, this series is for you. The camera is a tool that we can use to awaken our latent ability to go beyond ego and to embrace a creative and connective awareness. Photography is one of the most potent mindful awareness practices around. And anyone - spiritual companion or seeker - can benefit from that.
The series unfolds over 4 consecutive weeks -- with live sessions on consecutive Tuesdays at 1 PM (Seattle time) from August 6 - August 27, 2019.
All sessions are 75 minutes in length.
But even if that doesn't fit your schedule, please remember: each session is recorded so you can watch at your convenience.
Session 1: (Live: August 6 - 1 PM Seattle/Los Angeles, 4 PM New York, 9 PM London, August 7th: 4 AM Hong Kong, 6 AM Melbourne, Australia.) Invitation to See: Basic Composition Techniques - Led by Matt Whitney and Teresa Pietsch. Our focus in this session: Being Present. Discerning how to see. How images can support spiritual companionship. Basic composition tips.
Session 2: (Live: August 13 - 1 PM Seattle/Los Angeles, 4 PM New York, 9 PM London, August 14th: 4 AM Hong Kong, 6 AM Melbourne, Australia.) Portraits - Led by Matt Whitney and Diane Millis, Ph.D. Our focus in this session: We will learn about portraits - what can work and what can be problematic. We will also cover camera basics like shutter speed and movement and aperture and its affect on depth of field (how much of the image rendered will be in focus). In addition, Diane will take us through her process of contemplative photography, which she calls "Opening the Lens of the Heart: Looking Out at the World, Seeing Into Ourselves." Participants will receive access to her 2017 Presence article on that very subject.
Session 3: (Live: August 20 - 1 PM Seattle/Los Angeles, 4 PM New York, 9 PM London, August 21st: 4 AM Hong Kong, 6 AM Melbourne, Australia.) Landscape - The Pearl of Great Price - Led by Matt Whitney and Rev. Wilfredo Benitez. Our focus this session: How being out under an open sky creates opportunities to expand our consciousness. More camera tips.
Session 4: (Live: August 27 - 1 PM Seattle/Los Angeles, 4 PM New York, 9 PM London, August 28th: 4 AM Hong Kong, 6 AM Melbourne, Australia.) Your Voice. - Led by Matt Whitney and Professor Howard Zehr Integration. How does your personal story and narrative come out in your practice?
Matt Whitney is SDI's Creative Director. He is a multidisciplinary artist and educator who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and lives in Seattle. He works between drawing, painting, photography, collage, video, performance, and group facilitation, with a focus on the metaphorical and spiritual power generated through life’s everyday rhythms – walking, riding the bus, gardening, making things, or simply being still. He has a BA in Art from Whitworth University and an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has taught photography at the college level for several years. You can see some of his personal work at www.matthewwhitney.com. If you've seen any of the splendid photos from Seeking Connections 2018 in St. Louis or the design of Listen, our quarterly publication for spiritual seekers (AKA all of us), that's Matt's work.
The Rev. Wilfredo Benitez is a priest, photographer, poet, activist, and Spiritual Director, who originally hails from the Bronx, N.Y. He currently serves as provisional priest in charge at St John's Episcopal Church in Stamford, Connecticut. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from La Universidad Inter-Americana de Puerto Rico, a Master of Science in Education Degree from the Bank Street College of Education, N.Y. with a Concentration in Counseling; and a Master of Divinity Degree from the General Theological Seminary, N.Y. Most recently he completed a two-year training program in Spiritual Direction with the Haden Institute, and he has contributed some of his writing to the Spiritual Directors International blog. Examples of his writing and photography can be read here and here. He’s had numerous photography exhibitions, and his photographs have been published journals such as "Reflections" (Yale Divinity School) and" Image: Art • Faith • Mystery."
Teresa Pietsch is a professional photographer in Santa Barbara, California. She has worked in this role for 36 years. She is a graduate of The Academy for Spiritual Formation and Brooks Institute of Photography. She serves as a small group leader at Santa Barbara's Trinity Episcopal Church, organizing the following programs: "Soul of Aging," "Contemplative Photography," and 2 groups involved in providing food for those in transition. She lives with her partner, Carrie Hamilton, a spiritual director and medical professional. You can see some of Teresa's contemplative photography on her Instagram page.
Prof. Howard Zehr divides his attention between justice and photography – and is happiest when the two interests converge. Known as a pioneer in restorative justice, he lectures and consults internationally and has published numerous books and articles, including The Little Book of Contemplative Photography. He has worked professionally as a photographer and photojournalist, both in the North America and internationally. His current involvements are primarily in documentary, portrait and landscape photography. Since 1996 he has been Professor of Restorative Justice at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia. Zehr actively mentors other leaders in the field. More than 1,000 people have taken Zehr-taught courses and intensive workshops in restorative justice, many of whom lead their own restorative justice-focused organizations. Zehr was an early advocate of making the needs of victims central to the practice of restorative justice. A core theme in his work is respect for the dignity of all peoples. More information here.
For almost three decades, Diane Millis has had the privilege of serving as a midwife for others as they give voice to the vast array of stories inside of them. Through teaching and advising undergraduate and graduate students, consulting and coaching in a wide array of sectors, facilitating retreats and leading workshops, producing the video series, Lives Explored, and ministering as a spiritual director, she has observed, listened, and inquired as participants learn how to tell their most life-giving stories—stories to which they are drawn. All three of her books, Conversation—the Sacred Art, Deepening Engagement, and her recently published (by SDI Press) Re-Creating a Life: Learning How to Tell Our Most Life-Giving Story, provide toolkits for both one-to-one and group spiritual companioning. Diane currently serves in a wide array of sectors introducing the 4, 4, 4 format for group spiritual accompaniment. (See her SDI webinar/demonstration on group spiritual direction here.) She teaches Narrative Leadership at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (MN, USA).
Each session session will run 75 minutes. We understand that the timing of the seminar will not be convenient in every time zone on the planet. For those who have trouble making this time, a recorded copy of each session will be made available to all those who sign up. CEU credits are available for all those who participate. (See below)
The main goal of this series of webinars
Who may join the webinar?
Everyone is invited to participate in SDI Webinars.
Are CEUs available?
SDI will provide a certificate of completion for self-reporting to agencies. More information can be found here: continuing education units (CEUs).
What is the deadline for registration?
Register online before August 6, 2019
Tuition (4-part webinar package):
SDI Member Rate USD$79.00
Non-Member Rate USD$99.00
Tuition for webinar participation is non-refundable. All registered participants will receive access to the online recording of the SDI Webinar following the event.
A limited number of scholarships are available for those facing financial hardship. Please apply here.