A while back, I found dusty boxes of kodachromes stored in my parent's house. I had not looked at the pictures in over 25 years, mainly because it was from a time I wanted to forget: my Jesus Days.
During my twenties, I was a youth minister for an evangelical Christian organization that had member chapters at secular colleges and universities across the U.S. It was my job to encourage young Christians in their faith. I listened to their problems, led Bible studies and prayer meetings, engaged in missions overseas and even took Jesus to the sunny beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida during Spring Break.
As a boy, I had grown up in a Southern Baptist family in Kentucky and this born-again Christian world was as normal to me as bacon and eggs for breakfast.
A missionary gave me a 35 mm camera in 1978 and I started taking pictures. They were not meant to be seen by anyone other than my friends and family. I photographed out of curiousity and the desire to capture a moment. Without my knowing it at the time, I realize now that these pictures were my first artistic body of work. Looking at the images today, I see all my longing and wishes expressed, things I could not say in words.
I appeared the model Christian, an evangelical poster boy. I prayed and read my Bible, went to church and refrained from sex. But all through these days, I had a secret that I could not admit to others nor to myself. I loved but was not in love with the girl whom I thought I should marry and was in love with my best friend with whom I never would have a relationship. I feared that if my secret was exposed, I would lose my family, friends and position. It would be the end of myself as I knew myself.
In the Spring of 1983, I broke up with my girlfriend, resigned from the organization and came out as a gay man. That summer I moved to New York City where I entered the Film School of Columbia University. I became a photographer.
Today, I am collaborating with the Canadian publisher, Bywater Brothers, to bring the pictures all together in a photobook. It will be around 7" x 9" (18 x 23 cm), 80 pages with 55-60 pictures, produced in a softbound edition of 750. Bywater Brothers is experienced in the production of fine art books and has the distribution channels to bring Jesus Days to an international audience. The Publisher works with artists such as Jack Pierson.
Roger Bywater from Bywater Brothers writes:
"We love this project because it documents an unusual story in a way never seen before. We also like to work with emerging artists to realize projects which otherwise may not come to fruition. 'Jesus Days' is one such project which we fully stand behind."
Jesus Days documents American youth as seen through the eyes of a closeted gay staff member of a large, conservative religious movement. The photographs capture evangelical Christian student life from the end of the 70s to the early 80s and open a window onto a time now passed.
The projected cost of $9000 will cover the design and offset printing of the photobook. The budget is low because of the choice to go with a softcover edition and because most of the post-production work has already been completed. The budget also allows for the production of rewards and for travel to meet with the publisher in Toronto.
Remember that in accordance with Kickstarter rules, the entire budget must be raised by the deadline in order for pledged funds to be released. This policy protects the contributor and insures that supporters will see a return on their pledge. It is all or nothing.
Please visit my website to see more of Jesus Days and more of my photography: greg-reynolds.com.
Everyone who participates in making this project a success will have their names warmly acknowledged on a special page within the book. Please share this photobook project with your family, friends and colleagues.
Thank you for your support! I appreciate it.
Risks and challenges
Delays are always possible, but I am assured by the proven track record of Bywater Brothers that this photobook will arrive on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)