Ask someone to imagine a pastor, they will likely conjure an image of a man. But more and more female pastors are leading churches and one photographer has explored this trend.
In a series of fascinating and powerful images, photographer Corrie Aune documents female pastors in New York City — most of whom are the first women to head their churches.
“I began this project with a question: ‘What does it look like when a faith community encourages and empowers women to lead’?” Aune tells PetaPixel.
Aune is from Dallas, Texas where she didn’t see many women pastors growing up. However, times changed, and Aune wanted to challenge traditional beliefs about women’s role in the church via her photographs — which she took on a Sony A7 IV and wide lenses.
“I believe these pastors’ stories can offer a more inclusive path forward for the American Church and other faith communities,” she says.
“For the most part, it was not difficult to gain access to the pastors in this project. As a woman, and as a person raised in Christianity, it felt natural and comfortable to enter these conversations and spaces.”
“The pastors I photographed were all extremely kind, welcoming, and encouraging, which made it much easier to create the work I set out to make,” she adds.
Aune spent the past 12 months shooting the project, entitled For Such a Time as This. She captured various denominations of the Protestant church including Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ.
The documentary photographer says that the long-term nature of the project allowed her to capture more nuance and detail than a typical assignment which only lasts an afternoon.
“One of the most surreal and fun moments was the Sunday I photographed a service at the Riverside Church, a large, historic church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side,” says Aune.
“The church staff invited me to photograph the services from behind the medieval-style stone carvings that surrounded the stage and choir,” she continues.
“That morning, I found myself peeking out between stone saints and apostles, looking out at the audience and choir members without being seen. I love how photography can open doors to unique experiences and privileges like this!”
Image credits: Photographs by Corrie Aune