Greg Reynolds: Jesus Days, 1978-1983
Looking at recently released books this week….
Photographer Greg Reynolds has released his new monograph, Jesus Days, 1978-1983, published by Bywater Brothers editions in Canada. It will be available in New York City at Printed Matter, Dashwood Books and the Bookshop of the Museum of the International Center of Photography, amongst other locations. Jesus Days examines a period of time in the late 1970’s to the early 1980’s when Greg was working as an evangelical Christian campus minister. These photographs, all captured on glorious kodachrome, not only reflect a period of carefree youth, but reveal false realities.
Today, Reynolds works on photo book projects: Jesus Days, 1978-1983; Evidence, two decades of pictures of his family and home in Kentucky; and Possibly Maybe, a series of men’s portraits. He has studied and assisted at the School of the International Center of Photography in New York City. After residing in Brooklyn, he travels and currently stays in Berlin.
‘Jesus Days, 1978-1983′
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.
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