By Meghan Cesar
Kristyn Brown is a young Catholic photographer who has been capturing modern portrayals of Catholic saints since 2015. She has created over forty images of the Saints and has been commissioned by organizations such as The World Meeting of Families to create her photos. She is a current member and huge fan of the Catholic artists group ‘Catholic Creatives’ and has a strong devotion to St John Paul II due to his advocacy of artists, young people, and his renowned devotion to Our Lady. She is presently working on a series, The Twelve Apostles. REGINA’s Meghan Cesar interviewed Kristyn recently about her work.
Saint Joan of Arc (featured image)
“I started photographing the saints this way in April of 2015. I had been a photographer for quite some time but wasn’t feeling satisfied by the work I was doing. I wanted to merge my two loves, Catholicism and art, but had no idea how to.”
“The concept came to me one day while I was talking to my mom about St. Sebastian. I could see in my mind’s eye his icon, but portrayed by a real person. I looked into the idea to see if it had been done before as a series and it hadn’t.
“Long before a saint is ready to be photographed, I like to incorporate them into my prayers. I ask for their intercession during the preparation and to help guide it, so it can become what it should be. Sometimes if the saint I am working on had a favorite prayer I will pray that prayer as well.”
“Before I was shooting The Saints Project I was doing a lot of work with actors shooting headshots, model portfolios, and product photography. Now The Saints Project is my main work as far as photography goes, but my full time job is mom.
“I think creating an image that is believable but still looks classic was an important part of the process of The Saints Project. I was always aware of trying to avoid anything that would look cheesy and tried to stick with simplicity. I’m inspired by a lot of modern secular photographers and their techniques and spent time developing skills that I learned from them, which I believe can be attributed to why the images don’t look “tacky”.’
The Holy Family
“Each time I am preparing to shoot a saint, it goes one of two ways: I’m inspired by a saint, or I’m inspired by a person. With the images of the Holy Family, I wanted to create an image that looked down to earth, to touch on the fact that they were people just like us and hopefully convey that sweetness that family can bring.
“I actually built a set for this series with tile floors and a little window in their “home” with flowers peeking through. Each shoot is very different, but one thing that is consistent: doing whatever would be best to portray that saint and their lives.”
Saint Claire of Assisi
“In the case of St. Clare of Assisi (one of my favorite images), I actually used my own mother. I was inspired by St. Clare’s fierce holiness. I loved the story that went along with most of the images I found of her. She fought off an army with the power of the Holy Eucharist. I wanted my image to tell that story, to feel cinematic and dynamic and to be more than just a simple portrait, but most importantly to capture her bravery and trust in the Lord.”
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre
“St. Benedict Joseph Labre was a French mendicant and Franciscan tertiary born in 1748. What ultimately drew me in to him was just how small he was, not in stature but in humility. He also had very little to offer society and was what most people would consider a “reject.” I had heard of Benedict Joseph Labre and was waiting to find the right person to portray him. A short time later I met the right person for the job who happened to have a similar perspective on life and looked very much like the Saint.”
Saint Germaine Cousin
“From the moment I discovered Germaine Cousin I loved her. She was an innocent child, treated terribly by people who should love her. Despite being abused she loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him. Much like Benedict Joseph Labre, she was small and humble and frankly her life was unfair. I chose to portray her because I was inspired by her choices in life. Saints like her always move me the most because of their ability to be grateful in times (or during their entire lives) when they feel unwanted and rejected.”
Saint Mary Magdalene
“The Saints Project calls us to not only strive for sainthood by the guidance from the saints, but also to diligently seek out our unique and specific calling designed by God just for us. Each saint’s mission was created for them and could only be fulfilled by them, given their talents, passions and personality they sought to glorify God by being themselves. We are no different.”
“Sanctify yourself, and you will sanctify society” – St. Francis of Assisi
To view more or purchase Kristyn Brown’s photography from The Saints Project click HERE: