The above image was taken by myself of an Icon of Saints Columba and Kentigern, patron saints of the church in Doncaster. The icon has been painted in the age old icon writing tradition and is a work of pure love, and genius. This icon can be seen in the upper left corner of image 8 (below) and will give you some sense of scale. It was painted by a nonagenarian, who decided to take up such painting two years ago. The iconographer is the grandma of one of the congregation and she lives in Bulgaria. The icon was painted free of charge and shipped free of charge, all the way from Sofia, Bulgaria. It goes to show what amazing art is out there that never gets seen and how beautiful people can be.
Please note my images are to be presented and submitted as a series of ten, 12×8 inch, black and white glossy prints, as this medium shows off their beauty and meaning, fully. This church is a relatively dark environment to shoot in and the ISO was increased accordingly to 3200, which is higher than I would normally shoot at. This therefore presented a number of issues for me. Not only did I have to work within the confines of a moving and living Liturgy, but I also had technical difficulties and issues around angles with each shot.
My chosen subject for this assignment is a “Greek Orthodox Hierarchical Divine Liturgy”, which took place on Sunday 12th February 2017, at Sts. Columba and Kentigern’s church, in Edlington, Doncaster.
There are many moments within the Liturgy that make this a special subject to photograph. I have tried to capture several and various people within the Liturgy, that make it so special, and it is these people and surroundings that constitute the overall subject I have chosen. Without the collective people, the Liturgy would become simple prayers of the clergy.
It is uncommon to see a series of images on this subject matter, especially ones that take you behind the iconostasis (in the Altar area), as this is off-limits to most, including to all ladies and those who do not belong to the faith. The faith can trace its’ beginnings directly back to the teaching of Christ, and there is a continuous line of Ministry from Christ until this present day.
This was a special day for the church, as this was the first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy there in over twenty years. It was a special honour for me and a privilege to be given the approval to photograph this.
Ambient lighting was used, as flash photography would have been disrespectful and could have caused issues.
Metropolitan Silouan Oner attended and led the Liturgy. He is the clergyman in the dark robes and hat with the veil, and he can also be seen with and without his crown. I have captured various parts of the service, from the arrival of Sayedna (Master in Arabic), to the preparations at the prosthesis table, Sayedna’s crowing and showing his affection and love for his Church family.
I have converted to black and white, as the majority of images on the web are in colour and I wanted to do something different and showing that I am still developing my photographic voice.
Photography is a language and I prefer reading these images in black and white. I also feel that the tonal contrast of black and white is beautiful and they are better compared to those in colour.
The lighting again is non-dramatic in comparison to some of my peers. Does this mean my images are of less worth than theirs? Not in my opinion.
I have been asked in the brief to capture a unique view of the same subject and these ten images, certainly are unique and are of the same subject.
I have captured humourous images within a serious religious service, as demonstrated in image number 7. I have also demonstrated an awareness of my surroundings, as seen by capturing the baby in image number 6.
Shot number 4 is an image that needs to be looked at for a while, to ascertain what is going on due to the multiple elements within it. I am pleased to have captured the incense rising from the thurible, adding to the drama and movement within the image.
Having the images in black and white, in my opinion, also adds an element of truth to the images, bearing in mind this subject is something that is rarely seen by most people. This series is therefore an educational piece too.
I have added the photos as a series rather than adding my best image first, which was something that was discussed with my tutor at my last tutorial. This is also necessary to fulfil the brief.
There is unique information in each of the 10 images, whilst all remaining fully focused upon my subject of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The order of the images is chronological and they are therefore a natural series of the Liturgy developing.
Interestingly I cannot find any famous photographers who specialise in Greek Orthodox clergy/services. There are several hundred images on Getty’s website, but none that follow the full process of a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.
My series is all about bringing to life a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and to give the viewer a flavour of this and the diverse nature of what happens. Another purpose is also to express the beauty of the people attending, their diverse age range and also acknowledge the wide cultural base we have. The Lord’s prayer for example was said in 7 languages i.e. Arabic, Welsh, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, Greek and English.
This is not only a piece to celebrate Orthodoxy, but it embraces and celebrates people of all different cultures and backgrounds and shows how beautiful all people are and not just those who are native to Britain.
I have received much praise for the work at this Liturgy and this has come from as far afield as Bulgaria. Some of the comments received are copied below :-
- By Fr Gregory: Photo 75 is probably the best photo taken of Sayedna to date!
- By Jan: AMAZING,WONDERFUL,FANTASTIC. THANK YOU SO MUCH
- Hello Nicholas. Your photos are amazing.It is a great joy for me to see Boris and Zlatina with all of you in the church and to have their photos with me.God Bless you and all your family.much love in Christ,Katia. С най-сърдечни благопожелания – Катя Тодорова.
- Nick has captured the essence of meeting Metropolitan Silouan for the first visit to the Parish in Doncaster. That essence is Love! The skill of getting the exact moment to grasp the best image is not easily learned, but Nick has aquired that ability in bucket loads! Will definitely hire IkoNick to capture our important memories. Hope your business goes from strength to strength, with Many Years of happy snapping.
- You have done the parish proud Nicholas. Much Love, Fr. George.
- I really like these and the fact that they are in black and white, the lack of colour makes the colours stand out more… I particularly liked images 3, 7 and 9. OCA student.
- Love the series especially image 7. great set – good luck. OCA student.
- I like them all, but I love no.7. Kids will be kids, whatever the occasion. OCA student.
My images will also be displayed shortly on the following websites and are being sold to raise money for the parish ; –
I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I did writing it.
Contact sheets with basic exposure details.