Review of Eyes of the Heart


When Christine Valters-Paintner from Abbey of the Arts asked for volunteers for her blog tour, I signed up. I don’t do book reviews unless it’s something I just happen to have picked up and really really want to share with the world, but as I was halfway through one of her previous books, “The Artist’s Rule” I wanted to review “Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice”

I received a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which as I use Kindle on my iPhone probably wasn’t the best format. Perhaps because what I had was a review copy, there were some formatting issues throughout with the subtitles and quotes.

But I knew agreeing to review this book was the right idea when I read the section on “The Art of Beholding” in Chapter 1. One of my words for this year is “behold” (the other is “abide”). In this book, I learned about my word in a way that will reinvigorate my exploration of “behold”.

I am not much of a photographer, although recently I’ve started to take more than vacation snaps, via a resource that Christine also listed in this book, and also via Christine’s “The Artist’s Rule”. For me, it’s all about looking for God’s presence in this world, and where God is speaking to me right now. 

As Christine reveals in her book, with photography we shape our world to share who we are, what we believe and think. You see it every day on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Christine guides us to a different way: contemplative photography asks us to receive images instead of choosing images to take. Through this process, as well as later sitting with the photos, we catch a glimpse of God in our world. 

Christine leads us deeper into the various pieces of each photo: dark and light, cropping, color, and reflections. The chapter on shadows had every possible point of view in theology and philosophy and I found that to be a bit too much information. 

Given, this is a book meant to be walked through not raced through as I had to review in time for my slot. I certainly plan to re-read it again at a walking pace and follow long with the exercises that will build my understanding and my practice of a new contemplative way.

If you’ve read “The Artist’s Rule”, I can recommend the “Eyes of the Heart”. There’s hardly any overlap. It is more a development of what Christine has already written.

If you’re a photographer who is looking to explore the world around you, this is a great book.

If you’re a beginner photographer, you’ll still have to read another book on the techniques of photography if you want to go beyond “point and shoot”, but with “Eyes of the Heart” you’ll be seeing pictures in a whole new way.

(Note: the Amazon link is not an affiliate link, just one quick way to order the book!)

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