OGDEN — Robert Casey has been shooting pictures for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as a freelance photographer for the past 15 years, and he has loved every minute of it.
When he first started in photography, he applied for a job with the LDS Church and with Browning Arms. He got the job with Browning Arms first and then was offered a job with the LDS Church. He tried several times since then to work full time for the church, but it never worked out, so when he decided to freelance for the church, it seemed a perfect fit.
The LDS Church’s photography department has a lot of ins and outs because of the explosion of the Internet and social networking in recent years. This has provided a good opportunity for Casey to do his work as well. The church has eight full-time photographers, and whatever overflow they have comes to Casey.
The assignments vary between still-lifes and people, and things can get even more interesting if the people being shot are part of the story or if they are just in the photo to enhance the story. Casey said sometimes the talent is assigned to him, but when models aren’t provided, he often likes to use people he knows. And that’s where his wife, Dawn Casey, comes into the picture.
“She is my stylist,” he said of Dawn.
Casey is impressed with the process his wife uses to find the subjects for the pictures.
“She always has a prayer, and we believe we are using the right people,” he said.
He tries to stay in the Ogden area, because that’s home to him. He does admit that recently he used a large youth group in Kaysville to mix things up a bit and to not use the same kids over and over.
Casey has had many fascinating experiences, ranging from some youths who didn’t want to be associated with LDS Church magazines, to some who are overly energetic and excited to be a part of things.
He remembers one shoot, for an Ensign church magazine article titled “Understanding Ellie’s Challenge,” about a mother and daughter. The toddler daughter had a condition that made her unable to respond or communicate normally.
Casey started shooting pictures of the two when he got the idea to just have the mother wrap her arms around her daughter. As she did, a tear fell down the mother’s cheek.
The moment was very special, he said. After the shoot the mother thanked him and told him she became emotional because sometimes she forgets to just enjoy her daughter.
Casey has had several other similar experiences in which he has received spiritual promptings during photo shoots.
For some photos, he has had to warn his subjects about the kind of story they were being used for. One man and his wife were used for a story on pornography addiction.
“He was cool with it,” Casey said.
Other issues that crop up deal with making sure subjects who come for the shoots are dressed modestly and look appropriate for the church websites and magazines that will go out all over the world. The pictures pass through three committees, which include members of the Quorum of Seventy and General Authorities.
“Anywhere along there, they can get kicked back,” Casey said. “These pictures set a standard for the world.”
The thing he loves best is meeting all the “neat” people he has worked with over the years.
“They have handled or will handle some really difficult experiences, and it makes me realize my life isn’t so bad,” he said.
Casey does other freelance work with other groups, businesses and organizations that he really enjoys, but he said he enjoys his work for the church because he knows the impact it has on people’s lives.
“I feel fortunate — like my talent is on loan,” he said. “I’m adequate or little below adequate by myself, but with the Lord’s help and inspiration, it’s amazing what I can do.”