Framing Faith: From Camera to Pen, An Award-Winning Photojournalist Captures God in a Hurried World

Framing Faith: From Camera to Pen, An Award-Winning Photojournalist Captures God in a Hurried World

by Matthew Knisely


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780849921872
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 07/15/2014
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 939,965
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Matt Knisely is an Emmy Award winning photojournalist, storyteller, creative director and artist who loves telling stories of the extraordinary in the ordinary. He has been described as “one of the most versatile photojournalists working today,” and has a national reputation for his unique approach to visual storytelling. He is the creative director for Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. Matt's work has won many honors, including the Edward R. Murrow Awards for photography.

Read an Excerpt

Framing Faith

By Matt Knisely

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2014 Matt Knisely
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-529-10222-5



What we see depends mainly on what we look for.

—John Lubbock

I always knew what I wanted to do with my life. I had it all worked out. Perfectly outlined into achievable units of conquest and victory. Methodically calculated down to each and every milestone in my life. I loved telling stories. One day I dreamed of being a storyteller, a weaver of metaphor and narrative, a purveyor of pixels.

Stories have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I loved when my father would tell us tall tales or wild stories from his childhood—the kind that were so fantastic you wondered if they were really true. My mother told stories just as wonderful as my dad's. She always added another dimension to her narratives by referencing photos stretching all the way back to our family's first photo, which, when I was young, seemed like it was close to the very beginning of time itself.

Along with stories, I began to find myself drawn to photos, and the merging of the medium of photography with storytelling became a real interest. I would immerse myself in large leather-bound photo albums that told the story of our family history. I would slowly thumb through the thick pages riddled with photos with scalloped corners, dissecting each image, gazing into the past, staring at the present, peering into the eyes and lives of my family. Each page I turned revealed stories and images of mythical proportions—it was like I was finding a long-lost treasure. I felt transported to another time and place, another world of infinite possibilities of witnessing, telling, and capturing someone's story. Those albums helped me discover my family and understand myself at a much deeper level.

It was somewhere woven into those early moments that I discovered what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to help people tell their stories. And not just with pen and paper, but with pictures and sound. I saw that visual stories not only had the ability to comfort, heal, enrage, glorify, and vilify, but they also had a soothing power and effect on people.

The stories I collected for so many years were stories of personal tales about love gone wrong or right—an Elvis impersonator who performed at a buffet restaurant in the middle of nowhere, an organ donor's mother meeting the recipient of her son's heart for the first time, or a chance encounter that saved a life. I would dive into every story with poised precision, attempting to capture the heart of each person and taking charge of every word, image, punctuation point, plot twist, pixel, pause, and sentence. I developed, sorted, arranged, and edited ruthlessly to make sure each story revealed something new and displayed truth.

I was obsessed with my work. I have collected and told almost six thousand stories. Most were broken apart into millions of pixels and sent across the airwaves like a cannon shot only to be reassembled in front of a living room audience, staring blankly into the TV in the corner of the room, while others were transmitted via the Internet or live audience. Each story had a purpose, a reason to be told, and it was more than someone's fifteen minutes of fame—or so I would tell myself.

My obsession didn't stop when I left work at night; I was constantly on the lookout for unique stories to tell. Walking into the supermarket I would take a copy of the free paper. I had feeds pulling in stories for me to wade through every morning before I would go to work. I would pick up all the avant-garde magazines on the street corners of every city or town I would visit. I would highlight, cut, paste, fold, and stuff all the interesting and valued assets into a growing folder that I could reference at a moment's notice. I was mainlining narrative.

As the pile of stories grew, so did my career. Everything was right on schedule. I moved from market to market, crisscrossing the United States and the Atlantic Ocean from one city to another. Each move got me closer and closer to my goal—telling bigger and better stories, stories that had more meat and layers than all the others. I was obsessed.

Each story I collected was like an entryway to a new place. Every story, every image, every frame was calling for me to use my imagination and creativity to bring the storyline to life. Ultimately I learned invaluable life lessons from these stories. They grounded me. They nourished me. They inspired me.


There was only one problem. Those stories weren't my story. Yes, many of them became so personal that I almost felt that the stories of other people were, in a sense, my stories as well. And while their stories certainly became a part of me, when it really came down to it, they didn't belong to me.

I remember the day I realized a sobering truth: I had learned how to tell everyone else's story ... but not my own.

What did it really matter if my story wasn't told? I was telling the stories that really did matter—ones that have changed the course of history, ones that fascinate people with their uniqueness, ones that people wanted to hear. My story? Typical. Normal. Standard. Run-of-the-mill. What was the world losing out on by not hearing my story? Not much.

Besides, I had much more to offer as the person behind the camera than the person in front of it. We all need to know our role in the world, right? I knew mine. It was storyteller ... of other people's stories. And because their stories were so much better than mine, I didn't see the point in pursuing my own.

But even more than that, I hadn't really allowed myself to explore my own story. If you had commissioned me to create a thirty-minute segment featuring myself, I would have had no idea what to say. There was so much about myself I didn't really even know because I had never taken the time for self-discovery. What was my voice ? What was my story? What were my defining moments? It was unsettling to realize that I didn't really know.

The same kind of problem existed for me in my spiritual life. Like the stories of those I'd interviewed, I knew the stories of the Bible by heart. You could name a character, and I'd rattle off the CliffsNotes of his or her biblical narrative ... yet I would've been hard-pressed to share how that story had meaningfully shaped my own spiritual narrative. How had these faith adventures and struggles, successes and triumphs, doubts and revelations of so many subjects exposed in Scripture framed the course of my own journey of faith? It was when I realized that the answer to this question carried significant weight that I began to explore my personal story of what God had done in my life, what he was doing in me, and what he wanted to do through me.


Perhaps the power of biblical stories is not limited to mere bundles of facts and figures of people of old. Perhaps they have power to steer and renew and infuse our life's "film segments" with the divine. Perhaps they help us identify the same elements in our own stories that link us to the rich history and long line of people who lived openly before an ever-present God.

Is it possible that my story of trust is just as important as the prophet Samuel's? That my own struggle to be a disciple is as real as the apostle Peter's? That my own prayers can be as raw and riveting as the ones offered up by King David? That the art and beauty I create can worship God in the same way that the works of Bezalel, chief artisan of the tabernacle, brought glory to him? This realization opened my eyes to the fact that my story—my life—could be just as important to share with the world as others'. And perhaps my passion for photography gives me a unique way to see and frame my faith and will help others begin to tell their stories too.

I can tell you that through the process of writing this story, my story, I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned where my faith finds its roots and the real importance of living my life the way God intended it to be. And perhaps the thing I became most aware of is my need to be present in the moments I am living. As I told more and more stories, God began revealing to me the beauty and power of the moments I was capturing. I began to see how each person's story mattered—including my own.

Our lives are not lived in a vacuum, but rather they are interconnected, woven together, and inseparable. For me to withhold my story would be to rip out a thread from the tapestry of humanity. God has woven me in just as he has woven her in, and him in, and them in ... and you in.



Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.

—Albert Einstein

I look at the world through a unique lens. The photographer/storyteller in me is always looking for the rest of the story. I believe that good photographers have a knack for capturing moments that reveal life nonposed. They can bring into focus defining moments of significance. And what makes these vivid frames resonate is the photographer's attention to the details—to the relationships of light and dark, colors and shapes. These fundamental relationships bring life into focus in real and striking ways.

Each of us holds profound moments within our memory. They are images of significance that have affected us, changed us for good or bad, moved us to laughter or to tears, and defined us. We frame these moments in time as markers of conquest or of extraordinary significance, but we rarely enjoy these moments. Rather, we take pictures, removing ourselves from the moment as if we are capturing history. Click! Post to Facebook and Twitter.

There are few things we are less dedicated to than attention. Each of us spends virtually every minute of our day consumed ... connected ... and distracted.

Our lives are busy, racing from place to place, barely having time to accomplish everything, rarely having a moment to breathe, and never meeting all of the demands placed upon us. It's as if we have become adverse to margins. We multitask because we think we can get more done. We triple-task because we need to stay in contact. Every gap in our day is filled with information, draining our attention spans and pulling us out of the moment and inserting us into the matrix. We're inattentive ... preoccupied ... engrossed ... oblivious ... wrapped up in so many things that we are distracted from the moments that are right in front of us. We are disconnected from one another and from our Creator. It's like we are swimming in the ocean while dying of dehydration. We are connected yet alone.


We live in a world that seems to be moving at the speed of light. And this world is driven by technology that supposedly makes our lives more comfortable because of the many things we can achieve in a short span of time. That supposedly enriches our relationships because of how many more people we can now connect with and how easy it is to communicate with them. That supposedly makes us happier, more productive, and more efficient, leaving us with more time to do the things that really matter.

But those promises haven't rung true for the grand majority of us. Instead we find ourselves more efficient at "critical tasks" like wishing our Facebook "friends" a happy birthday each day or organizing our music into killer playlists ... all the while missing out on the faces of those standing right in front of us.

Somehow all of the available technology has turned into a perceived necessity that we, for whatever reason, desperately cling to. And our dependence on it causes us to lose sight of what's really important in life.

The scariest part is we let it happen. Make no mistake—we choose to let this happen. Technology is merely a vehicle that we freely choose to ride on. Whether we enjoy the ride or not, it will ultimately lead us to a place where we're more isolated and alienated—a place where our ancestors have never been. In his article entitled, "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" Stephen Marche discusses the limitless and instant comfort technology brings to us. But, he argues, because of it we have become more detached from each other. As Marche says, there is a growing fear that "Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier, and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer."

Experts say that people in our day and age actually become anxious when our brains are not stimulated by technology. As a result, we have become disconnected from other people and events that surround us. We have more "friends" but fewer real friends. More "conversations" but fewer conversations that really matter. Our relationship pool has grown much, much wider but also much, much shallower. Our real relationships are the ones that fill us, that truly satisfy us.

If we describe our relational needs in terms of physical hunger, the majority of the "friends" we interact with via technology fill us up the way an iced mocha cappuccino does—an initial burst of energy and pleasure that crashes shortly after. What our soul really craves is a solid meal—interactions with actual friends or family that take time, an investment of emotional energy, planning, thought, and focus.

But our society has begun to treat our relational needs much the same way we've come to treat our physical needs. When we're hungry, rather than take the time to cook a well-balanced, filling meal, we rush to grab something out of the freezer that we can quickly nuke and then eat while watching TV or finishing up some work. And when we're relationally hungry, so often rather than sitting down with our children or spouse to hear about their day or setting up a dinner date with a good friend, we open Facebook or Twitter and peruse through the recent posts of the day, stopping to click "like" or shoot off some quick replies. Or we look to see if a picture we posted to Instagram earlier that day has been commented on much—and if it was, that temporarily fills us ... until we close our computer and crawl into bed with the same dissatisfied, empty feeling that we went to bed with the day before.

When it comes down to it, technology has created a culture of distraction, keeping us stimulated by things that don't really matter. This is far from ideal. When we start to fill our minds and hearts with voices that don't really add meaning, over time we'll silence the voice of the only One who does.

We begin life with nothing but humble rations from a loving Creator. As infants, we are given the gift of connection to our mother. We are presented the gift of relationship and love from our new family. The simplest of things were gifts for a reason. But at some point in our lives we lose control of what's happening to us and around us, and we begin to become controlled by the need for things to occupy our time and attention, the need to acquire more and more in the pursuit of happiness. This is life's greatest lie.


It's as if we are searching, looking for something, and the more we look, the more we move into emptiness because we lack defining moments. Despite our best efforts, our attention seems to be held captive by communicating in 140 characters or less, status updates, short blog posts, apps, hashtags, and text messages with ridiculous abbreviations ... SMH! It's like watching an out-of-control freight train headed for derailment, and we cannot look away. We are wired to crave the temporary satisfaction from writing e-mails, crafting tweets, returning calls, downloading music, playing games, checking out websites, sending text messages, and taking photos of our food. They are the hooks that enrapture us. They are the casino slot machines that keep us moving from one machine to the next, ultimately resulting in our anxiety when we are left to face the world unstimulated.

As a photojournalist, if I were to approach my subjects in the same frenetic, distracted manner, not only would my career be short-lived but the stories and images would be surface and meaningless. And if this level of focus matters so much in my work relationships, why would I think it is any different in other areas of my life?


Excerpted from Framing Faith by Matt Knisely. Copyright © 2014 Matt Knisely. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword Leonard Sweet xv

Introduction xix

Part 1 Focus

Chapter 1 Discovery 3

Chapter 2 Attention 9

Chapter 3 Purpose 21

Chapter 4 Perfection 31

Chapter 5 Listening 47

Part 2 Capture

Chapter 6 Moment 67

Chapter 7 Perspective 79

Chapter 8 Subject 91

Chapter 9 Composition 107

Part 3 Develop

Chapter 10 Processing 123

Chapter 11 Darkness 139

Chapter 12 Light 151

Afterword Ben Arment 163

Notes 169

Acknowledgments 177

About the Author 181

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Framing Faith: From Camera to Pen, An Award-Winning Photojournalist Captures God in a Hurried World 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
klampert More than 1 year ago
Framing Faith From Camera to Pen, An Award-Winning Photojournalist Captures God in a Hurried World By Matthew Knisely I have the privilege of following Matt on the social media platforms and being his "friend" on facebook. This was actually how I first heard about this book. It has been interesting looking through that lens (no pun intended) as I read through these pages. Matt is a photojournalist and a storyteller. The main reason why I grabbed this book to review is because of my fascination with photography, the arts, speaking and storytelling as well. I loved the clarity that was in this book in regards to intentionality of capturing "worthwhile" moments and encountering God in the midst of the chaos of life. Over the years I have also had these epiphanies around "carpe diem" or the recognition that each moment matters. I really liked this book and his phrasing. I would have loved to have seen more of his "art" in the book because I think it FRAMES clearly as a visual example his text. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this BOOK free from booklookbloggers to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
uncommongirl More than 1 year ago
Framing Faith: From Camera to Pen, An Award-Winning Photojournalist Captures God in a Hurried World by Matthew Knisely I liked how the book started from within the table of contents. The quotes beginning each of the chapters were nicely selected. But the book failed to capture me. I strugled moving beyond the second chapter and eventually completely lost interest before finishing the book. Maybe it got better, I don't know.  The author is an award winning photojournalist. The black and white photos in the book were not interesting.  The book just wasn't for me. 
dgregoryburns More than 1 year ago
"Framing Faith" by author, photographer and artist Matt Knisely is a book that makes you reframe how you think about your world and  yourself. Knisely carefully utilizes his disability of seeing differently into a super ability of seeing better.  He urges readers to slow down,  be present, and truly discover that that moments matter. In a society going  too fast, "Framing Faith" is a manual for anybody endeavoring to center their lives, to gain an inward awareness  of God and a deeper genuine Christian hope. In this present-day, many of us stuff every "spare" second we have instead of taking a pause to discern the manifest acts of God and recognize that he is present in each and every second. In "Framing Faith" Knisely reveals biblical revelations in a new and insightful manner, allowing you to discover them as if for the very  first time. The author demonstrates an innovative method of appreciating God and to help us remain in the moment through the journey of diverse photography concepts, including aspect, composition, processing and darkness versus light. Knisely suggests penetrating inquiries and unexpected exhibition which leads his readers into a point of candid self-examination.   The book  prompts  readers to meditation and then exhibits God in all we encounter and experience. A great read from a truly artistic soul.
MitchRoush More than 1 year ago
A B-12 SHOT FOR THE SOUL! Every-so-often a book comes along at the perfect time. The context of your life crashes with the brutal therapeutic truth provided on the pages.  It seems as though the very moment you decided to crack it open was pre-determined for this exact moment.  As if the universe was aware you needed to experience something you weren’t aware existed.  And with each turn of the page, you find yourself feasting more and more on the discoveries shouting from the text. Every-so-often a book manages to create the sense of sitting at the feet of the writer over coffee. Within each catch-phrase or bold-statement or perfectly crafted story you gain this sense that you not only needed this book, but that you could see yourself becoming friends with the author.  The way they share their story, the authenticity, the vulnerability all create a judgement-free haven of sorts.  The book itself is more a vehicle of building up your courage to embrace what you’re discovering about yourself. Every-so-often a book carves its way into your soul, speaking truth, igniting healing & breeding courage. As you dive deeper and deeper into the words, the soul poured out onto the page, you can’t help but feel yourself growing.  Accepting the hard-to-swallow truths have never been so easy.  Yes, feather ruffling as they may be, they’re still true.  And you find yourself being honest with your reflection for the first time in a while. Such is the case with Matt Knisely’s new book, “Framing Faith”. A book of creativity, raw stories, darkness & light, searching for stillness and presence and so much more–FRAMING FAITH has found a way to breathe new life into the bedraggled hearts of the burnt-out or de-churched.  A refreshing bout of truth beautifully woven together as a healing–yet–joyful confessional of sorts.  It’s a book that’s easy to read but finds itself weighing heavily on your mind for all the right reasons.  A brutally truthful B-12 shot to the soul.  FRAMING FAITH is not only one of the most important books of the year–it’s one you’ll enjoy the challenges it subtly lays at your feet. I cannot recommend this book enough! Multiple times throughout reading, I had to stop and share potent quotes with friends and loved ones. If you’re searching for more…This book is for you. If you’re tired of feeling busy all the time…This book is for you. Fans of:  Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, or Brennan Manning…This book is for you. If you want to add more creativity to your life…This book is for you. If you want to be inspired to do your part to make your church better…This book is for you. If you have trouble noticing…This book is for you. If you suffer from approval addiction…This book is for you. If you simply want to read a profound book that won’t make you feel stupid…This book is for you. If you want to be challenged…This book is for you. If you want to read one of the best books 2014 will see…This book is for you.