Vocation in Avocation: Photography
By AJ Keith, Communications intern
Long ago, the ability to capture a single moment in time seemed like an impossible feat, but now we are able to carry thousands of photos in our very pocket and share them with others for the sake of memory and beauty. Such is the case with Sisters of Charity Marty Dermody and Jeannette Cochran, who have taken up photography as a pastime that captures life’s tender moments and beautiful occasions while also seizing each moment to pay homage to God’s creation.
Marty remembers from an early age the stacks of photo albums that her parents accumulated, unwilling to miss a single moment in the lives of their children or the majesty of the wilderness. Like her parents, S. Marty began to snap photographs whenever possible, usually taking pictures of things that interested her like the woods, the sun and the birds. However, she also enjoys taking pictures of important moments in life, such as birthdays, weddings and vacations. This includes several reflection books that she has designed from the vacation photos that she has taken. “I enjoy taking photos of any aspect of creation,” S. Marty says. “I also enjoy taking pictures of architecture, both man-made and what is created by God.”
During her five-decade ministry in the medical field in New Mexico, S. Jeannette was exposed to a scenic surrounding that she couldn’t help but photograph. Mountain ranges, rainbows and dozens of flowers in her garden all contributed to the hobby that would eventually become an important part of her life. Returning to Cincinnati, Ohio, S. Jeannette found herself taking pictures of nature just as often as she did during her time in New Mexico. “Being around nature inspired me to want to take more pictures,” S. Jeannette says. “There are just as many opportunities here in Cincinnati, you just have to look for them.”
Equipped with her cell phone – as well as binoculars, a Canon Powershot and a Canon Rebel – is S. Marty, whose talents as a photographer have grown as much as she has. Focusing closely on nature and human interest stories for the SC Communications Office since 2000, S. Marty has been of great service to the office by honing her own talents as a photographer. Some of her work has been published outside of the SC Community, like the local news and in magazines like Birds and Blooms. To this day, S. Marty submits her photos wherever she can so that others can share in the beauty of each moment. “It’s all about being in the right place at the right moment,” S. Marty says.
Similar to S. Marty, S. Jeannette focuses on the beauty of nature for her photography. Using her phone as her lens to see and share the sublimity of the Earth, S. Jeannette is constantly taking photos of sunrises and rainbows from her balcony of the Motherhouse. Her photos began as a way to capture the beautiful landscape in New Mexico, but capturing it for her personal viewing wasn’t enough. Eager to share her gift with others, S. Jeannette has created “thank you” notes and other cards using her original photos that are sold in the Motherhouse Gift Shop. S. Jeannette has them developed to ensure that her photos are of the highest quality to ensure that the picture does the scene justice.
Because it is the primary focus of their photography, both Sisters have encountered an overwhelming appreciation for nature and realize that each day of life is unique from the day before. This appreciation acts as its own lens because it offers a new perspective to these two photographers, which makes them respect all of God’s fine work with creation. Making use of her photos for a faith-oriented purpose, S. Marty uses some of these photos in her Spirituality presentations like “Praying with Nature.” The aim of this retreat is to experience gratification in nature and in communal prayer. She also makes sure to have her camera with her at all times. “I think of photography like a prayer form,” S. Marty says. “When I look at something, I ask how I can best capture it. It can be the smallest thing, like an insect, then I’ll write about it and reflect.”
Jeannette also uses the hobby for relaxation and reflection. While in New Mexico, S. Jeannette would drive around to clear her head to look at the scenery of her surroundings. If a moment was just right, she would bring out her camera and take a photo. She agrees with S. Marty about how profound photography can be as a prayer form. “I see God in everything,” S. Jeannette says. “That’s what my prayer life is like and I’m really glad to have it.”
Photography has allowed people across the world to remember important times in their lives, even if they are somehow forgotten; however, with plenty of photos to remind them, these two Sisters will always be in awe of the miracle of daily life, rather it takes the shape of the sun outside their window or their family in their living room.