If God had a face what would it look like? / And would you want to see if seeing meant that / you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints / and all the prophets?— Joan Osborne, ‟One of Us ˮ
Photographers have photographed believers in all the world’s major religions and many of its minor ones while engaged in the act of worship. Often they have done so as outsiders to those creeds, with attitudes ranging from the respectful and curious to the skeptical or even critical. But more than a few of those photographers grew up within a particular faith whose practice and practitioners they subsequently described in images. No doubt some of them remained followers of those belief systems, so it seems safe to assume that while a number of them may have lapsed in their faith, or paid only lip service to it thereafter, others surely sustained their convictions to the point where we would consider them devout.
Therefore we can say that religions have been photographed, as it were, from the inside. However, I can think of no photographer who has given us a firsthand account in words and images of his own spiritual crisis and conversion — especially to a religion with which he had no previous connection, and against which he had decided prejudices. No photographer, that is, until Steven Katzman.