LDS photographer takes pictures of every Utah Mormon temple in each of the seasons

Published: Friday, Jan. 24 2014 8:30 p.m. MST

Tulips contrast spring clouds at the Brigham City LDS Temple during spring.

Phill Monson

It doesn’t take much for a Salt Lake City photographer to realize the LDS temple photography scene has already been covered.

Phillip Monson is one of these local photographers and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like many members of the religion, and even many who are not members, he finds a special beauty in Mormon temples.

But Monson knew that simply blending his love of photography and his love of temples wasn’t a new idea. He wanted something fresh and different.

"A lot of people take photos of the temples, and I really wanted to make something different and stand out," Monson said. "So I had this idea that it would be cool to do a project where I take photos of all the temples in Utah in all four seasons and then put it together."

After talking to people about the idea and looking into self-publishing, he found a project he thought would inspire people in a new way: get a picture of each Utah temple during each season and compile them into a book by the end of the year. He’s preparing for the book now with a calendar featuring a seasonal temple photo for each month.

The seasonal aspect gives an added layer of symbolism, according to Monson. He said he was in part inspired by Ecclesiastes 3 that begins with the scripture, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

Monson said the fact that temples weather the storm of any season, rain or shine, teaches a profound lesson.

"No matter what the weather is doing or (how) the times are changing, these buildings are always going to be standing the test of time and are going to be there," he said. "I thought that just resonated with people. People have ups and downs. They have different seasons of their lives. But something that we can always look to is the temple."

Monson has to find time for the project on top of being with his family and working full time. Working on the project isn’t easy and requires commitment, but it’s this very life outside of photography that helps him meet his goals.

He credits his family, work and friends for their support.

"Thankfully I’ve got an incredibly supportive wife who also feels strongly about the project," he said. "It’s a big time commitment, but it’s been interesting. I’ve kind of really felt that I’ve been inspired to know when to go and what time’s right and everything just lines up right. Either my wife not having anything going on or work (has) been great with some time off, so it’s been really interesting to see just how things line up and make the time that it takes to do. It’s all worked out."

Monson even has help on some of his trips from his 4-year-old daughter, whom he called his “little photo assistant.”

Comparing landscape photography to temple photos, Monson said some things are the same and some things are not. The rules of photography — dynamic lighting, good composition, the right angles — are similar, but Monson said he feels more pressure for his temple pictures.

"I feel like I have a real responsibility to capture (the temple) in its best light. If it’s just a landscape photography trip, if I don’t get anything I like, then it’s not a big deal. I can just go back or whatever. But with these there’s a little bit more pressure to do it, especially since I’ve put myself out there. Saying this is my project. This is what I’m doing. People are kind of expecting some big things."

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