every picture tells a story

update on this: we completely revised and updated Every Picture Tells a Story (including all new photos), and released it as a downloadable product, here.

years ago, i created a unique resource called Every Picture Tells a Story: 48 Evocative Photographs for Inspiring Reaction and Reflection. really, i haven’t seen anything else like it, and it’s sad that it went out of print a few years ago. the leader’s guide shows 18 different approaches to using the resource for sharing, prayer, listening to god, and meditation. but the primary use is:
– lay out the 48 photos on a table, or on the floor
– ask participants to spend a few minutes in prayer, asking god to reveal himself to them
– ask them to sort through the photos and pay attention to what they’re drawn to, even if they don’t understand why
– spend 5 or 10 minutes looking at the photo, asking what god wants to reveal to you through this window
– share your insights with the group

i’ve seen this resource used with children, youth, young adults, mid-agers and senior citizens. it’s really not a ‘youth ministry resource’, as much as it is a prayer and sharing resource. and i’ve found it can be used over and over again with the same participants.

here’s the back cover copy from the original product:

Using the powerful force of 48 black-and-white photographs to open doorways into students’ souls
First in Youth Specialties’ new SoulShaper line of spirituality resources for youth ministry, Every Picture Tells a Story draws on the undeniable evocative force of black-and-white photography to elicit reactions and reflections at deep levels in the observers. Using the 18 activities described in the leader’s guide included, groups will: * Choose photos that are reflections of their walks with God * Pray and journal about their thoughts, dreams, hopes, and experiences * Share with each other in a wide variety of “state of the soul” exercises * Use photos as springboards to describe their families, their friendships, and their inner lives.

Ideally designed for small group use, Every Picture Tells a Story can easily be used by individuals as well as groups of 100 or more. Tested with students internationally, this resource opens new doorways into the souls and hearts of students. Features include: * Will bring about reaction and reflection * Easy to use–no prep necessary * Can be used over and over again and still remain fresh * Can be used in a wide variety of settings–small groups, large groups, leadership teams, missions trips, retreats, even with adults * The 48 photos are durable and will withstand handling by students

and here are a couple user comments from amazon:

I have used this in multiple settings – from therapy with younger children to medium size high school groups and large groups at our youth ministry’s summer camp – it has gone over great. It is amazing the ways God has spoken to students through these photos… the ways different students interpret the same photos so uniquely. 100% worth the investment. They love to dive into this unique activity. The leaders guide is great – it gives SO many different ideas… Really, awesome curriculum.

I bought this a couple years ago for a youth retreat where I was helping. It was one of the favorite parts of our devotions. Many of the kids came back and wanted to keep talking about this after the “official” part was done. Even the youngest kids got into this and were blessed by the depth of their experience.

from time to time, people contact me and ask if i have any copies i could sell them. but i don’t. and the only used copy on amazon is listed for $409!! (actually, this is discounted — it used to be listed for $999!).

i decided to find a quick and easy digital way to make this resource available again. i have the digital copies of all the photos, and scans of the leader’s guide. so, two options:
1. for $25, i’ll send you an invite to a dropbox folder where all that stuff is. you can download it all, and either use the photos on screens, or print out your own copies.
2. for $35, i’ll burn it all to a CD and send it to you.

if you want a copy, send me an email ([email protected]). this certainly isn’t a “get rich” thing for me! i just want to make this awesome resource available.

19 thoughts on “every picture tells a story”

  1. I agree, one of the best resources I ever used and it was used in a variety of settings. I wonder if I sell my copy for $300, if someone would see it as a bargain? ;-)

  2. This is the one youth resource I have used repeatedly over the years. It even inspired me to create my own small group activity where I had my youth take their own pictures to answer a set of questions (“Who am I? Where do I see God? What inspires me?”)

    I work with at-risk youth and they are a tough bunch. But the pictures soften up their walls a lot and allow for real discussion.

  3. I’m like Len, tempted to sell my copy now and buy a digital version from you! If my math is correct, I should still come out ahead a few hundred bucks!

  4. I love this resource! I have my own copy and one at church. I use it for Youth Ministry, Women’s ministry and prayer chapels! Would love some new pictures if you are looking for a project!

  5. oh my goodness! This is TRULY one of my FAVORITE resources. I LOVE the pictures and have heard so many different interpretations of them throughout the years.

    How cool that this was YOUR creation. Awesome!

  6. Why was it originally listed for $999? I mean, it seems like a great resource but enough to justify $499? What’s the reasoning behind that?

  7. @dj — i have NO idea. it’s NOT worth that much. the only thing i can imagine is that some of the used product retailers price things very high if they’re the only copy for sale of a given product, thinking ‘someone might be willing to pay it’ if they really need it.

  8. I love this packet. I had one when I worked at a church, and I wish I would have taken it with me when I left. I use a packet similar to this with my language arts students. The photos help them get outside of themselves in their writing, giving them a different point of view.

  9. Great resource, I have used it many times for Middle School and High School. It is easily the most under rated piece of work that Marko has put out. I would not sell mine for $499. Maybe $999 :)

  10. This is one of my favorite prayer and meditation aids. I use it with myself at least once a month, and even though i know the pictures exquisitely now, i seem to find myself being drawn toward a specific one each time. As an added interest, as I’ve used them, I’ve seen different perspectives in each one. I may look at one and think “anger at God” and then another time, find it as “desperation” — a powerful, powerful resource. and a favorite.


  11. I highly recommend it…haven’t used mine for a while but it is definitely time to bring it back

  12. I love this tool as well. They have been a great blessing to me. Marko- your timing for posting this is really providential. Ironically I’m taking an online class on Christian education and this week we were talking about a teaching model that uses pictures so I pulled pulled out my box of “Every Picture…” to share with the class and thought I see how much amazon it sold for. After gasping, I checked here and saw you were offering it as a download. Thanks so much. God is awesome!

  13. I never used these nor even knew what it was for. After reading this post I may do what Renee has done and use it for a personal prayer time. The church I am at now had a copy of it and I have seen it in a cabinet in the youth room, but never did anything with it. That is going to change on Monday. I am going to pull them out and use them.

    I may even consider buying the digital copy for $25 just so that I don’t have to scan them in myself.

  14. Marko-

    I’ll spring for the $25 variety – tell me where to send the pay pal. I had a copy, and left it at my last church (they DID pay for it after all). Now I find myself in a new church and can use it again.


  15. I LOVE the fact that this resource is now going to be available digitally. Awesome.

    We should do a new version too.

  16. You really miss out on the photo of Marko on the box in the CD/online version.
    Man! That photo is old!

  17. A Prayer From Jesus

    Jesus I brought this prayer to your people and they rejected it. So I added a comment on the importance of this prayer and your plan of Salvation, again no responses. Finally with fire and brimstone, mentioned their destination, it was as if they could not even hear.

    Jesus am I to be a profit as unto Jeremiah or like unto Jonah. I fell like Jonah, no matter what I want to do, You all ways command me to do this small task, deliver Your prayer. Except the results are as unto Jermiah. When not one obeyed when You said, they will find safety out of the city.

    Jesus, you created me as neither but one of power, in Jesus NAME. Devil in the NAME of JESUS I bind you in Jesus name. Release your hold on those who will be called, son’s of Jesus. I command you in JESUS NAME to be gone from all who read this post, in Jesus Name. For the glory is yours alone Jesus. I lift your Name up in Praise now, Lord Jesus. Open my eyes in Jesus Name and let me receive from You, this very hour in JESUS NAME.

    This prayer is from Jesus that we may hear from Him, that He may speak to our hearts. It only consist of three simple steps.

    1, We need to read one scripture. This will focus us in the word that brings everlasting life.

    2, Since this prayer is from Jesus we need to direct our prayer to Him personally. Too often Christian focuses they’re prayer’s to G_D or Father. Scripture proclaims, that Jesus should be the focus of our prayer.

    3, The simplest part of this Prayer is to ask Jesus one question. Please, all that is required for this question is that it should be simple. Let Jesus Himself finish the question when He gives you that understanding through this prayer.

    The PRAYER

    A) The scripture that is the focus of this prayer is “ACTS 2:38”. It’s not necessary to do any study into this scripture. Jesus will give you the understanding that will resonate in your heart. Just read Acts 2:38, keep it in your heart and take this one scripture to prayer

    B) The most important part of this prayer is that we need to direct our prayer directly to Jesus. If you normally would say Father in your prayer, change your focus from the Father to Jesus, by lifting Jesus name up every time you would normally use Father in your prayer.

    C) Maybe the hardest part of this prayer is the question that we need to ask Jesus. For man is always trying to understand the question, instead of listening to the answer. The simplest question is all that is required.
    Simply ask Jesus, ‘WHY’?

    For those who are obedient

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