Norfolk man's 'one million churches' vision
A Norwich photographer has launched an ambitious project to post pictures of one million churches online - and he needs your help. Kevin Gotts reports.
Tom Oliver, a photographer working in Norwich, is founder of Create Vision, a group of photographers who have a passion for Jesus and to inspire worship through what they see, capture and create.
He wanted to introduce a long-running project and photographing 'the Church' was an idea that just came to him. He said: "I believe that it was definitely God's idea to aim for one million photos of them, but God does things in a bigger way, so I am totally reliant on His help to reach 1,000,000 photos!"
Tom explained: "This new project is focussed on capturing images of as many churches worldwide as possible and sharing them on social media with the hashtag #onemillionchurches. There are approximately 50,000 churches in the UK, so the figure of 1,000,000 images will need some form of global help (and heavenly help) to reach our target."
When the project launched, it was just him, but now there are regular image submissions from people in Albania, Florida, UK, South America and beyond: "It's quite exciting to see how people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures perceive the Church, and this is the whole point of the project," said Tom.
"There are currently 37 million churches in the world. Some are grand buildings and some are understated shacks. However, as a whole, they represent the same thing!
There are more than 11,000,000 images currently on Instagram with the hashtag 'church'. This figure shows that people already look at church buildings with some form of architectural intrigue. I aim to utilise this and encourage people globally to photograph churches. The term 'church' will mean different things to different people and the images captured of a church will have different meanings to everyone," he said.
Tom currently works full-time as a senior photographer, capturing lifestyle and high-end cosmetic photographs for a range of well-known brands and retailers. Alongside his work, he is busy being a husband, a father and a coffee lover. Tom and his wife, Jem, moved to Beccles two years ago to gain a little bit more peace and calm from the hustle and bustle of life in Norwich city centre. They now have a son Jonah (10 months) and are expecting a second child in January 2016. They are members of Lowestoft Community Church.
At the time of writing, around 400 images have been uploaded to the project from all around the world, with approximately 50 from Norfolk, with images being added nearly every day.
Tom concluded: "#onemillionchurches will spark the creative attention of people who are Christians and non-Christians, photographers and non-photographers all coming together to join in capturing 'the church'. Many people will photograph buildings, some will capture their church families and others may capture something different, however all of these images will be capturing something of God's love for us."
How to get involved and submit an image:
1. Set up an Instagram account or open an Instagram app on your mobile device.
2. Post your photo with the hashtag: #onemillionchurches - please also share the name and location of the church which helps establish where in the world you are getting involved with the project. It doesn't matter if the church has already been photographed, because the way they photographed it will be different to the way you have.
3. If you are unable to set up an account, send the image to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will post it for you.
You can find all the current pictures at: https://instagram.com/explore/tags/onemillionchurches/
Pictured above is Tom Oliver and his picture of Norwich Cathedral.