Father Bertie Pearson is a man of passion. He has dedicated his life to the beauty and mysteries of God, but is also an amateur photographer who enjoys capturing the beauty of people, as we are all made in and reflect the likeness of God. As if that wasn’t cool enough for a priest, he put himself through seminary as a drummer and DJ.
His current work, outside his service as Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, has been featured in exhibitions and publications across the country. In November, two of his photographs (above, right) were selected out of more than 5,500 entries from 75 countries for the Annual Taylor Wessing show at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the world’s most prestigious juried exhibition of portrait photography.
Father Pearson says he has always enjoyed taking a walk with a camera (plus, a few thousand photos of his two children), but the world of contests is new to him. “I never entered anything before,” he says, “But, I decided if I never do it, I’ll regret it.” Two months later he was notified that two of his three entries were to be included in the global, virtual exhibit, and voting is open now to help him win the 2020 People’s Pick.
“It is an incredible honor,” he adds. “The best part is that it has given me opportunities to talk about the Gospel; the relationship between God’s holiness and how artists manifest beauty in the world.”
Fr. Pearson grew up in Texas and spent many years in study and worship from California to Holland. When he returned to the Austin area, he observed his childhood home of Clarksville had changed from a working-class collective to a rather elite, white-collar area. His exhibit portraits are of Mr. Robert Bryant and Ms. Carnewia Spence, members of New Light Ebenezer Baptist Church. “They reflect the ways in which faith quietly counters cultural change. Although many original homes and buildings have been torn down, the churches remain unchanged as residents refuse to forfeit their houses of prayer.” The photos’ plain backdrop and closely observed detail, create a dignified record of the church community.
“Photos are a fun way to explore my creativity, and sometimes a means to talk to people who may not have a relationship with Christ, as my work is often about light. Images of God in the Bible—the light of Christ, and the uncreated light of the Father descending as fire, or a pillar, are a glimpse of what God is like, as much as the subject matter of a photo.”
His first love, however, is the priesthood. When not taking photos, and even when he is, he is eager to share the traditions of Grace church, and his love of people gathering together for love of God. “Our church family are dedicated Christians who take their relationship with Jesus very seriously, and I’m pleased with anything that causes my path to converge with others for His glory.”
You can get to know Father Pearson on Sundays at Grace Episcopal, or follow his podcast GraceEpis.org/education.
Beauty and dignity are important to me. It’s so easy to walk past people~Fr. Bertie Pearson
and ignore them, or think of them as adversaries. I just want people
to remember we are all God’s handiwork.