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Photography and the Spiritual
Exercises of St. Ignatius of
Jeffrey U. Pioquinto, SJ
In Photography, I’ve
learned to find God in
all thing. It taught me
to see in a certain
the lens of God.
It is quite surprising that that I was introduced to the world of spirituality
and photography just recently. Though the seed for spirituality started early just
like in any other form of growth but it blooms when I was in college. I studied in
Claret High School in Zamboanga City and somehow, embodied the spirituality
of the school SCIENTIA MAXIME CUM VIRTUTE or KNOWLEDGE IS BEST
WITH VIRTUE. At an early age, it was clear to me that having an education is
not just purely academic but also the formation of character. I still remember the
favorite passage of St. Anthony Mary Claret from the Gospel of Mark, when we
discussed his biography in Filipino when we where in first year high school, ―For
what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” These
experiences gave me a focus, values to hold on, a spirituality.
PHOTOGRAPHY AS LIVED-EXPERIENCE
Sandra Schneider gave a profound definition of Spirituality:
―Spirituality as lived experience can be defined as conscious
involvement in the project of life integration through self-transcendence
toward the ultimate value one perceives.‖
My spirituality strengthen when I was in college with the Jesuits – Ateneo de
Zamboanga University. Here I got to know St. Ignatius of Loyola and the
Spirituality is more than just a set of doctrines. It is a lived-experience that gives
us the meaning of our lives through integration and ultimately transcendence
towards our ultimate values.
It is never self-absorption. The very center of Ignatian Spirituality is to be in
union with our God and to let go of the things that would hinder us to that
Photography too is a lived experience. In order to capture the true essence of
life through your lenses, we must be immersed with our own experience that is
PHOTOGRAPHY IS LOVE
This may sound cheesy for some but the foundational core of Ignatian
Spirituality is God’s love. Everytime we go into Ignatian retreat, we always start
with God’s love.
Love will make us more dispose in sensing the presence of God. It makes us
In photography, other than skills, what drives me is love. Love gives context to
what I’m shooting. It gives meaning to my passion.
Love makes the invisible visible.
PHOTOGRAPHY IS MORE TO BE DONE RATHER THAN TO BE READ.
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is not supposed to be just read or even
studied while doing the exercises. If one wants to undergo the Spiritual
Exercises, one must immerse oneself with the experience. It is more to be done
than to be read.
Same thing in photography. There is no easy way to learn how to shoot than
going out of one’s house and keep shooting. We don’t just learn photography
by reading photography books, but by immersing oneself to the experience of
PHOTOGRAPHY AS A VOCATION
These texts are taken from the First Principle and Foundation in the Spiritual Exercises of St.
Ignatius of Loyola:
Human beings are created to praise, reverence and serve God Our Lord and
by this means to save their souls. The other things on the face of the earth
are created for human beings to help them in working toward the goal for
which they are created.
Therefore, I am to make use of these other things insofar as they help me
attain the goal and turn away from these other things insofar as they hinder
me from attaining the goal. I must make myself indifferent to all created
things, as far as I am allowed free choice and am not under any prohibition.
Consequently, as far as I am concerned, I should not prefer health to
sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The
same holds for all other things. My one desire and choice should be what is
more conducive to reaching the goal for which I am created.
Photography is not just a hobby or mere profession. It is a vocation. Doing photography is
meaningless is we don’t see it as our vocation. A calling to see and let other see what we
see. This, somehow pose us a challenge to detach ourselves from thing that we lead us
farther from our vocation.
We all make decision but not all
of our decisions are products of
What is Ignatian Discernment.
Loyola Press in their website
gave a clear explanation of
what discernment is all about:
Discernment is a time-
honored practice in the
Christian tradition. In
essence, discernment is
process that honors the
place of God's will in
our lives. It is an interior
search that seeks to
align our own will with
the will of God in order
to learn what God is
calling us to. Every
choice we make, no
matter how small, is an
opportunity to align
ourselves with God's
will. Here are some
that can help you
discern God's will.
In photography, we don’t just shoot indiscriminately. We shoot with a purpose. In my case,
everytime I take picture, I always discernment if what I’m taking will help me commit to
humanity even though how mundane it subject or the theme.
Photography humanizes us.
Magis is a Latin word for ―more.‖ To do more for the greater glory of God.
What magis taught me in photography is to go deeper. To have depth. To see deeper into
the reality of life and to fight against the superficiality in life.
Ignatian Spirituality gave me INTERIOR FREEDOM.
Freedom from my own attachments from worldly things. Freedom from personal
preferences. Freedom from my unholy desires.
Once I am free, I can give more to others and even to myself.
INTERIOR FREEDOM liberates.
Be great in little things.
— Saint Francis Xavier
In the end, these
things matter most--
How well did you
How fully did you
How deeply did you
―What you get by
goals is not as
important as what
you become by
Wolfgang von Goethe
"...TRUE MAGIS is giving to others from our own death, building
others from own homelessness, healing others in spite our
woundedness...For magis is generosity without a selfie."
--Arnel Aquino, SJ
―I love you not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with
you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself but for
what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you
bring out.‖― Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"Kapag nasabi na ang lahat ng
masasabi, ang pinakamahalaga ay ang
hindi masabi."—Padre Roque Ferriols, SJ