Photo Essay: The Passion

For this photo essay, I was asked to delve into the Passion narrative as told in each of the four gospels and to allow the narrative to inform a photo essay of images gathered from around Tāmaki Makaurau.

This photo assignment required me to pay attention. I sensed the importance of paying attention to the narrative of Scripture and to all the things Jesus directly told his disciples would happen in the days to come regarding his betrayal, death, and resurrection. I noticed that, a lot of the time, the disciples didn’t fully grasp what Jesus was telling them. This is a familiar story. The people of Israel come to mind. I, myself, come to mind. To speak to this reality, the photos presented here are only a part of their whole image. My hope is that we, too, might glimpse what it might have been like for the disciples to hear Jesus’s words yet not fully comprehend the significance of what was about to take place.

It’s worth noting that this photo essay hasn’t come without trepidation on my part. The last thing I wanted to do was water down the reality of the Passion by simply offering locally found imagery that might speak to it. So, to counter this, what I felt to do was to read the Passion narratives and, as I was reading each account, to write down the key words that stuck out to me. Writing them down in four columns next to each other helped me to see the common threads between them all. These then became the basis for what I was looking to capture through my camera lens as I spent time walking around my house and neighbourhood.

In the process, my trepidation has turned into hopefulness. By engaging in the process of paying attention to what is around me every day, in light of Scripture, I discovered there is a myriad of signposts that point me to Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection–if only I have eyes to see and ears to hear. My hope and prayer is that you will start to see more of these signposts around as you, too, choose to pay attention.

Stairs: Leading to the Passover meal in an upstairs room.
Table: The Place where the Passover meal was eaten.
Mount of Olives: The place of prayer and also the place of betrayal.
Denial: The rooster crows three times.
Crown: Made of thorns.

Golgotha: The place where Jesus was crucified in between two criminals.
Darkness: Upon Jesus’s death at noon for three hours.
Tomb: The place where Jesus’s body was kept under guard.
Light: The light after the darkest night. The light of the angel who told the women that Jesus had risen. The light of Jesus.

(Images: “The Passion,” CC Melody Cooper 2021)