Seeing Art in Life By inSpire with Dan Martella

Photo: Dan Martella
We asked Dan Martella several questions about his interest in photography and the ways he has been able to incorporate it into his ministry.

inSpire - Dan, you are a pastor with a passion for ministry, but you are also enjoy photography and capturing images that you can turn into works of art. Before I ask you more about that, tell us about your background and how you became interested in photography.

Martella - When I was in my early twenties I took a year out of college to serve as a student missionary in Korea. On the way over I spent some time in Japan where I bought my first camera. While in Korea I enjoyed taking pictures of the great sites, everyday life in the streets and markets, and life around our home and school.

inSpire - Have you figured out a way to use photography in your work as a pastor? If so, what do you do with it?

Martella - I use photography in my ministry. I love sneaking pictures from famous places into the backgrounds of my PowerPoint slides. They are edited in such a way that no one knows what it is unless I tell them. I also use pictures of church activities and members in our announcement slides, and in the masthead of our weekly e-newsletter. I also enjoy posting travel photography in Facebook for my church family and friends to enjoy.

A few years ago I discovered that my members are much more interested in a highly relational conversation between pastor and friends. So I ditched the sermon slides, sermon notes, and even the pulpit. If I am preaching a topical sermon with a lot of texts, or a sermon with a fair amount of detail, I might use PowerPoint to help keep the people moving along with me.

inSpire - It's important to speak the language of your audience, and it sounds like yours is not as visual as they are auditory. Let me switch gears and go in a different direction. Is your interest in photography limited to just taking photos for yourself and your family, or do you have an interest in sharing it in other ways? For example, would you consider entering some of your photos into a photography show? Or, do you like to add art effects to your photos so they take on different qualities?

Sagrada la Familia Chalk Hill Estate Peggy's Cove Segovia, Spain Butchart Gardens
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Martella - Taking pictures changes the whole experience for me. I look at the place I am exploring through the eyes of an artist. I engage a whole different part of my brain — especially if I can listen to some good music while doing it. Then I look for ways to enhance the picture through the photo editing process. After that, I enjoy sharing those pictures with family and friends. As for photography shows, I'm open for that, but have not had that opportunity yet.

inSpire - Do you have any suggestions for how the church could better utilize the skills of its creative members?

Martella - One idea I would like to try sometime is to have an art contest for the kids in the church. Give them a theme. Create some categories. Put it all up for display. Give every kid who enters a prize. Use the artwork on the cover of the church bulletin for a while.

inSpire - That would be great for the kids and for the entire church. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas, and keep clicking that shutter.

This interview was conducted by Rich DuBose, Director of Pacific Union Conference Church Support Services and the inSpire project. All rights reserved © 2012 Click here for content usage information.