I started making photographs my junior year of high school because it was a time in my life where I wanted to break the mold I had formed around myself that limited me in so many ways. It was a great turning point in my life that has taken me to where I am now as a college graduate with a BFA in photography, and working in a studio in Los Angeles.
When I was invited to go to Kirtland and the Sacred Grove with Val Brinkerhoff, my greatest desire was to provide a spiritual experience for those who were to view the images I was to make. As I was photographing the exterior of the temple, the wind was blowing the branches of the trees back and forth. I saw the temple in the background of these trees. It was standing strong, not moved by the wind, as were the trees. It made me think of God. He is not moved by the winds of change, he is an unchanging being. The branches of the trees blowing too and fro made me think of man, and the ever-changing ideas that we seem to have concerning spiritual matters. I also thought of how we can be blown too and fro by the winds of Satan if we don’t plant ourselves on the foundation of Jesus Christ. I decided at that point I was going to photograph the building in the background of these branches that are being blown around using a long exposure so the movement of the branches would be recorded on film with the temple solid in the background. I felt guided in my thoughts to photograph the temple that way. The images came out exactly as I expected with the wind blowing the branches in the foreground implicitly saying that God is the only source for solid truth in a world that is ever changing by the winds of Satan’s power.
My first day The Sacred Grove, the thought came to me that I could use the trunks of these huge trees to represent the pillar of light that Joseph Smith saw as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ visited him. I spent much of my time in the grove searching for trunks of trees that had light shining selectively on them so they would appear somewhat like pillars of light. I was able to make four such images out of the many that I photographed in the Grove. My hope is that when people view these images they can find their own meaning that will draw them closer to Jesus Christ and better understand the restoration of his gospel on the earth today.
I want to thank to Val Brinkerhoff for inviting me on this trip with him. I also want to thank BYU for donating the money needed to fund this project and for the huge amount of support they have given to me. I especially want to express gratitude to my Savior, Jesus Christ because he is the reason why this project has merit.
To purchase these or other images from this project, contact Mike Kemp by emailing or by phone.