"I was--we were (as several folks in the office crowded 'round)--completely blown away. By its power and dignity, its implicit compassion and yet unblinking eye. What a wonderful project and I only wish I hadn't been on the road for the last three and a half months because I would have been able to see this amazing project sooner." -- Ken Burns, Emmy Award winning documentary producer/director
For eleven years, Daniel Epstein, a Marketing Director at one of the world’s largest corporations, Procter & Gamble, traveled the world for business and for faith. Motivated by his own search to fill the "God-sized hole" in his life, he did not know where it would lead. He felt that if he did not develop some type of spiritual faith he would die. Born and raised a Jew, Daniel’s challenges with relationships, work, and "life" forced him at age 36 to get on his knees and pray to a God he did not know, a higher power not specific to either his own Judaism or any religion, and ask for help. In order to keep his new found sense of faith alive and to gain from the experience of others, Daniel created a spiritual exercise out of interviewing people around the world about the role of faith in their lives. As a photographer, Daniel also captured a moment with each person in a black and white portrait meant to evoke their true spirit.
500 People From 27 Countries
What emerged is the world’s most extensive oral history / testimony project conducted by one person on the subject of faith. Daniel has interviewed and made portraits of 500 people from 27 countries representing well over 50 religions, denominations, and spiritual followings: USA (Atlanta, Cincinnati, Rockport, New York, Alachua Florida, Nashville, Seattle, Boulder, San Francisco, Los Angeles), Canada, Brazil (Sao Paulo, Trancoso), Venezuela (Caracas), China (Shanghai, Guangzhou), UK (London), Japan (Tokyo), Turkey (Istanbul), Poland (Warsaw), Singapore, Korea (Seoul), United Arab Emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi), Oman (Muscat), Mexico (Mexico City), Israel (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tzfat, Haifa), France (Savoy), Egypt (Cairo), India (Mumbai), Australia (Melbourne, Hermansburg, Uluru), Germany (Berlin), Philippines (Manila), Nicaragua, Malaysia (Johor Bharu, Pekan, Seremban, Kuala Lumpur), Panama (Panama City, Embera Puru), and Iceland.
Faith Not Religion
Portraits in Faith is not about religion. It is about documenting the role of spiritual experience inside and outside of formal religion, expected and unexpected, told in people’s own words, and brought to life with video and photography. The message of Portraits In Faith is that despite all the negative press on faith in the world today, faith is a powerful healer, transformer, and changer of lives. The overriding message is that however one calls God (Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Higher Power, The Divine, Creative Intelligence…) there is a greater force that connects us all and it is good for each person to find a path that leads to a faith that works for them.
The Interview Questions
- Tell me about your earliest memory of faith
- What was the first time in your life you felt like you had to or chose to rely upon God (as you understand God)?
- Tell me about a time you doubted your faith and what happened?
- What are you most grateful for?
- What is your greatest wish?
- Do you have a message?
- What would you like me to tell people about you when they see your portrait?