One of my favorite shots of Allen during the Savior's ministry is called “Wonder.” It shows Jesus crouched down next to a little boy. Jesus is holding a rock in his hand, talking quietly. The boy is looking at him, listening with love and admiration. I liked this photo, even before reading Mabry's notes. I loved the lines - the sloping mountain behind, and the fact that Lord of All would humbly bend below this little boy who was standing at full stature. To me it showed the Savior's reverence and love for little children. I thought of my own little ones and my role as a mother. Often, I ask myself if I am loving my children as Christ loves them.
Then I read Mabry's notes.
Toward the end of the project, I began to feel disconnected from my family. I pulled my son, Marky, out of school for a few days and brought him with us on our last Mexican road trip to shoot the last few images. Knowing that this would be a unique chance to spend time with my son, we made some ground rules. The main rule was that when Robert put on the robes, we would pretend like Jesus was there with us. When we were set up to shoot...I got out a costume for Marky and brought him out for this picture. Robert spent time teaching him about the creation by showing him a rock on the ground and asking Marky if he knew where it came from. It was a unique chance for me to view my child in that setting, forcing me to assess my job as father. Do I look at my child as Christ would?
I will mention one final image - “Lovest Thou Me?” - taken from the Lord's injunction to Peter in John 21. It depicts the Savior and Peter in silhouette, sitting across from each other over a small fire built on the sand. The sun is setting behind them just above the Galilee. The fiery sky is a stark contrast to the quiet exchange Peter is about to have with the Savior. I'm not sure where this shot was taken but it has a realness about it that I loved. I have always appreciated this teaching of the Savior - that if we love Him, we must feed His sheep but Mabry's insights and self-examination go deeper. He writes,
I had been pondering the relationship of Christ and Peter. What did Christ mean when He asked, “Lovest thou me more than these?” I felt the Savior asking me the same question He asked Peter on the beach. Only the “fish” He was referring to were, for me, the entire creative process and photography itself. Do I love Him as much as I love creating the images of Him? For the first time, I had to make an effort to separate Christ the Savior from Christ the man in my pictures.
The rest of the stories behind the scenes I leave for you to discover - the testimony of the woman who played the adulteress, the Roman soldier who couldn't refrain his weeping while they re-enacted the scourging of Jesus, the rain during the team's shooting of the Crucifixion, and the man who played John the Baptist - how unworthy he felt. Each is a reflection - a witness of Jesus Christ's divinity, ministry, and Atonement.
Mabry's project is beautifully titled for the many levels on which it reflects the Savior. The pictures reflect Christ, the contributors reflect Him, and you, as the reader or viewer, will be moved to reflect upon Him in a way personalized for you. Reflections of Christ will make a wonderful gift for anyone of any faith who loves the Lord.
In addition to Mabry's book of full-page photographs, a DVD documentary is also available that includes the story behind the making of Reflections of Christ. Mabry and his wife, Tara, live with their three children in Mesa, Arizona.