Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Don Doll’
For 50 years Jesuit Father Don Doll has seen the world through the lens of who he is and the life he’s lived.
Fr. Doll, a renowned photographer whose work was featured in National Geographic magazine in 1984 and 1990, has traveled the globe “to tell the stories of people who have no voice.” His ministry began on the plains of South Dakota in the early 1960s while working with the Lakota people on the Rosebud Reservation. He had joined the Jesuit order after graduating from high school in 1955.
“The first week I was there they said, ‘Would you like to learn photography?’
“I said, ‘Sounds like fun.’”
After two years of training and experience in photography, he questioned that choice.
“I went for a walk on the prairie (wondering) ‘What the heck am I going to do as a Jesuit?” the 75-year-old priest reminisced. “I’m not brilliant like some of these guys.”
Feeling he hadn’t taken “a single decent picture after two-and-a-half years,” he suddenly heard a voice inside him say: ‘Stay with the photography, it’s the first thing you love doing, don’t worry if it takes 10 years.’
“It did!” he added with a laugh.
“I see how the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the depths of our hearts and I trust that,” he said. “I don’t hear voices a lot (but) when I have a hunch, I really trust that’s how the Holy Spirit speaks to me. It’s true of every project I’ve taken on.”
Since 1969, Father Doll has worked at Creighton University in Omaha, where he is a professor of journalism. For the last 20 years, he has documented the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service in some 50 countries including India, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Sudan and Rwanda. These assignments, he said, working with “the poorest of the poor” have been close to his heart.
“Jesuits have a mission: Faith doing justice,” he shared, quoting his personal artist statement. “I photograph to tell the stories of people who have no voice. Hopefully, I can help others understand and work to change unjust social structures.”
He often finds himself praying that he can look at people and photograph them “with something of the empathy and understanding that God has for them.”
“Often I’m asked if being a priest affects my photography,” he shared, reflecting on nearly 44 years in the priesthood. “My answer is always: ‘Yes, it has everything to do with it.’”
“For me, it’s hard to separate the creative process of ‘seeing’ from prayer. Both can be contemplative acts.”
To commemorate a half-century in photography, Fr. Doll is working on a book and considering an art exhibit to be on display at the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. For more about Father Doll and to view his work, visit magis.creighton.edu. You can read more about him in this Denver Catholic Register, the newspaper of the Denver diocese, article.
The ad shown above was selected last week as one of the best Apple ads by an editor at Huffington Post. A longtime photojournalism professor at Creighton University, Jesuit Father Don Doll, appeared in the it (along with rocker Todd Rundgren) — dropped an e-mail about the experience to Catholic News Service. In an email titled “A bit of Creighton in Apple history,” Father Doll told the story:
“Here’s how I was invited to be in the Apple campaign ‘What’s on your PowerBook?’ Creighton graduate, Christian Wolfe, who had excelled in my publication design course, was an Los Angeles BBDO account executive with the Apple account who called asking if I had a black clerical suit, and if I would consider being in an Apple ad campaign. I called my Jesuit superiors in Milwaukee to see if there were any issues with my appearance in an ad. They didn’t have any.
“Apple flew me out first class, put me in in a San Francisco boutique hotel. We went out to the little, formerly Catholic church now a nondenominational wedding chapel, in Tiburon, across the bay from San Francisco, where I met Todd Rundgren (whom I had never heard of before!), and Michael O’Brien, the photographer, whom I did meet years earlier as an award winning National Press Photographer.
“Michael O’Brien exposed 76 rolls of 120 film over 2-3 hours. The ad was run in black and white and color in numerous national magazines. I received numerous calls from former students who saw the ad.”
And, Father Doll, an award-winning photographer himself, noted that he was ”pleased with the ad as it showed a priest in a good light.”
For those who are curious, some of the things listed on Fr. Doll’s PowerBook included: wedding homilies, grant proposal for a book, scans of pictures taken in Ireland, and “design for my Christmas card.”
[H/t: The Deacon's Bench]
Jesuit Father Don Doll’s photographic works have been celebrated and awarded numerous times for their ability to capture and highlight the experiences of people across the globe. From remote villages in Sub-Saharan Africa to the dances of Native Americans in their traditional garb, Fr. Doll has spent decades capturing his subjects in their element since he was first introduced to photography when assigned to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota as a young Jesuit in the late 1960s.
He’s photographed Jesuits assisting Tsunami victims in India and Sri Lanka in 2005; refugees in Burundi, Rwanda and the Congo in 2007; and Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad along the Darfur border in 2008. Most recently, one of Doll’s photos was selected by 1001 Stories of Common Ground‘s Positive Change in Action competition showcasing pieces which highlight the positive changes in the Arab world.
Currently, Doll is a professor of photojournalism at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. where he holds the Charles and Mary Heider Endowed Jesuit Chair. Recently, he took time out from his busy schedule to speak with National Jesuit News by phone for our monthly podcast series. You can listen to the interview with Doll below:
Magis Productions, founded by noted photojournalist Jesuit Father Don Doll of Creighton University, will receive the 2010 Chief Standing Bear Organizational Award this Friday, May 14 in the Nebraska State Capitol Rotunda.
Awarded by the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, the honor recognizes Fr. Doll and his colleague Carol McCabe for their work in the field of photography, particularly portrait photography, which gives “voice to Native American peoples and promotes social justice for all.”
Members of the Kateri Drum Group of St. Augustine Indian Mission, Winnebago, Neb., will perform at the awards event.
“It’s an honor to accept this award,” said Doll who was introduced to photography when he was assigned to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota as a young Jesuit in the late 1960s. “It’s been a privilege to make photographs that in some small way assist Native Americans in the pride they take in their heritage and their identity.”