Monthly Archives: April 2023
A few years ago the Southwest Photojournalism Conference held in Nashville awarded Charles a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the practice of photography as a ministry. Above Country Music Hall of Fame Performer, Ricky Skaggs presents the award to Charles.
Charles over his career as photographer shot with Nikon, Hasselblad, Fujifilm and Leica cameras. Above siting his kitchen he photographed me with his Leica, while I photographed him!
This is the young Dr. Charles Stanley that I met over 30 years ago, Shot in the Grand Tetons National Park.
While running a workshop in the Grand Tetons I was joined by left to right; Dr. Chuck Summers, the Pilgrim, Charles and Ken Jenkins, all dear brothers and friends!
Thank you Charles for all the great memories and time together, I look forward to hugging you in heaven, one of these days!
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This entry was posted on Monday, April 24th, 2023 at 3:41 pm
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On one of my many trips down to Charles house in Atlanta, someone shot this image of us together in his Darkroom/equipment room. It now proudly hangs on the wall of my home office. I learned so much from Charles in our many conversations, from his sermons and his books. I wanted to share a few of those lessons that have been life changing for me, I pray they will be for you too!
- Focus on what God has blessed you with instead of desiring more. This lesson came on an occasion when I was frustrated about the financial success of another photographer who was not a Christian. I fell into the place of feeling God was not blessing me enough. I’m very ashamed to admit that I was thinking that way, but truth is I was.
I went to Charles and shared my frustration and asked him what I should do. He said he understood what I was feeling but he had a prayer that would solve my issue. I foolishly said tell me what it is, he said it’s very simple, ask God to give you what you deserve. I immediately knew I was sure I didn’t want to pray for that! Charles then said may I ask you a few questions, i said of course;
He asked me if I was married and if I loved my wife? I said yes very much (and he knew the answer to all these questions!}
Do you’ve children, are they healthy?
Let’s see if I remember this right he said, what you do for a living is go to all the most beautiful places and the best times to be there and photograph, right?
Now Bill, how many times have you gone bankrupt? After a half dozen more questions that pointed out just how blessed I was, he said let me ask you this, what more do you want God to do for you than he has already done?
I said, I’m sorry I bothered you with this question.
2. Give all your cares, concerns and desire to God and then trust Him with the results. Charles was adament that God desired the best for you, and we can leave it all in His hands.
3. Instead of telling God your plans, as Him what His plans are for you and then follow them. He once told me if you want to make God smile, tell Him your plans!
4. Seek your Joy in the Lord, you will not find it any place else. We are to be in this world, but not of it!
5. Know that you are a sinner and undeserving of God’s Grace. love and forgiveness! We cannot earn His Grace, it is a gift freely given, but we must accept it and Him.
6. Seek first Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you, even the desires of your heart. Don’t seek your desires, seek God and he will change your desires to match His for you and only then can He bless you with those desires he knows will bring you the greatest blessings!
7. Forgiveness is the key to freedom. Until we can forgive we can never have the peace of God!
8. This is how to live: Make it your goal and desire to leave others better off than before they met you.
9. Always keep your motives pure! Some years ago while visiting Charles sitting at his big round kitchen table he pushed legal pad and a pen across the table to me. He said. “go down to my equipment room and list all the gear of mine that you want me to leave to you someday.” Charles had a vast collection of cameras and lenses from several different manufacturers. I pushed the legal pad back to him and said, I don’t want anything. He persisted to say he really wanted to do this more me. I said Charles, “I have only wanted your friendship, and I will never do anything that would allow you to ever think that my friendship had anything to do with what I could gain from it, materially.” That kept our relationship clean and clear of that!
Charles taught me through the example of his life that what we say we believe only has God’s power if we really believe it and live it. I have tried to follow that principle. I’m thankful for all I learned from him.
This entry was posted on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023 at 8:02 pm
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This first shot was made years ago on a photo workshop in Arches National Park. Charles had climbed up on a rock ledge to make this iconic shot and I saw, as the sun hit the rocks, he was a perfect silhouette! I asked three friends to hold his legs in the shadows in fear he might fall! Charles loved the image so much that a very large print version of it hung over his desk in his office at In Touch. I was thrilled he liked it, but even more thrilled he didn’t fall to his death!
When visiting Charles at his home in Atlanta, I saw this beautiful image hanging on his wall, he told all about a studio photographer that used this actor portraying Jesus and shot this image of them I asked could if I could copy it andI did right then and there with a handheld camera, I loved this image and still do! It was shot in Italy.
On the ocasión of Charles 80th birthday celebration and the release of his I Love To Tell The Story book, Carl turner shot the image of Charles and I visiting after he signed a copy of the book to me.
This incredible portrait of Charles was made by Carl Turner. It was one of nicest portraits of the natural Charles in the woods!
While running workshop in Glacier national park where Charles joined us, our gang “The Boys” posed for a couple of images with one of the red buses that take tourist up and down the Highway to the Sun! Top image. left to right; Bill Fortney, Jim Begley, Chuck Barnes and “Snake” Barrett, Charles is in the Drivers Seat, as he always was!!!
I will search for more images and post again, but it was fun remembering these great moments with him!
This entry was posted on Friday, April 21st, 2023 at 5:30 pm
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Photograph by Carl Turner
Yesterday morning at 7:30 am Dr. Charles Stanley spirit exited his earthly body and joined his Savior in Heaven. You can find tons of obituaries online listing the many accomplishments of Charles ministry that spanned over 6 decades. I would rather remember Charles; the man, my friend and my brother.
Over 30 years ago I was just getting started in the photography game and running workshops with the Great American Photography Weekends, a company my wife and I founded in the very early 90’s. I was a growing, needing to mature Christian and one of my sources of reliable teaching on God’s word was Dr. Charles Stanley and his In Touch television ministry. I had bought his books and watched as much of his sermons as I could, when I found out that he was very seriously into photography. Being over zealous as I am I thought I would invite him to attend a GAPW event as my guest, surely he would love that!?
I sent a letter to him at In Touch and anxiously awaited a phone call excepting my offer! In a few weeks a letter arrive and I carefully opened it knowing I would want to preserve this first correspondence with him, maybe even frame it!
When I read the letter my spirit fell to the floor. It was obviously written by one of the many gatekeepers I’m sure protect him from over enthusiastic people like me. It was nice and business like but stated that Dr. Stanley has such a busy schedule especially on weekends that he couldn’t possibly accept my kind offer, best regards, not Charles Stanley. I was crushed, then hurt and then mad. After a few days of kicking the cat, (not really, we don’t have a cat, and I would never kick one anyway!) Finally, Sherelene, having had enough of my childish actions and complaining set me straight, “Did you really think he would jump at the chance to come to workshop and drop everything else he is responsible to do?!” She’s good at keeping me straightened out!
I knew she was right but I was very, very disappointed, but eventually let it go. As chance would have it (not really chance, more like a move of God), I was attending Imaging USA in New Orleans so I flew very early in the morning to Atlanta to change planes to fly on to New Orleans for the show. While sitting at the gate waiting to board my second flight who do you guess walked in, looked around sat right across from me! There he was, Dr. Charles Stanley! *(He later shared in a sermon that when we met God told him to sit down where he did, he didn’t want to, he wanted to sit off alone and relax, but for some reason, did as he was told!)
This was during the run-up to David Middleton’s and my putting out our first joint book, The Nature of America. I happened to have a beautiful 8 page promo piece i was going to share at the show so I simply slipped it out of my brief and reached it over to Charles and said, “Dr. Stanley, I think you might enjoy this.”
He looked through it carefully and said come over and tell me about this, which I did. He said, who are you? I said, Bill Fortney, I’m one of the two guys that put this project together. He shocked me when he said, “Your not “The” Bill Fortney are you, the one I’ve read articles from in Outdoor Photographer and other magazines! I was shocked but humbly said yes that’s me. About then they called for us to board and he said I’m going to ask whoever is assigned to sit next to me to trade seats with you so we can visit on the way to New Orleans, if that’s ok? and we did.
During the flight I shared with him about the GAPW which he was already very aware of and said he wanted to come to a workshop! I told him about the letter and he said” If I knew who didn’t forward your letter to me I would fire them, then he said well I wouldn’t fire them but I can’t believe that didn’t send your letter directly to me, I would have accepted your offer in a minute, to which I said, it’s still on the table! We spent the rest of the trip down to New Orleans sharing, laughing and talking photography, we had so much in common. When we got to New Orleans he asked me when was my flight back and I said this evening and he said me too, turned out, (big surprise), we were on the same return flight to Atlanta. That evening we shared deeply with each other all about lives and the challenges we both had faced. He was going through his divorce, demanded by his wife, and was taking a lot heat by some in his church. I did something that to this day I can’t believe I would ever say, I said “Charles, (by then he had demanded that I drop the Dr Stanley stuff) may I pray for you?” I had no more than said it that I thought what on earth are you thinking you just asked Dr. Charles Stanley if you could pray for him!!! He said Please!”
It was very emotional time and I just poured out my heart for the man I loved and admired so much, by the time I got to amen, we both were sobbing and holding each other. Fast forward over the past 30 + years we did many workshops together, traveled to many great locations just to hang out and shoot, I spent many nights as a guest in his home and we became very close friends and brothers. One night sitting in his den before a roaring fire I looked over at him and was overcome with the joy that God have given me his friendship. I said to him, “Charles I can’t believe that my prayer was to just meet you, shake your hand and thank you for all your ministry had meant to me, and God did this!” He turned back to me and said, “Well, you got that wrong, it wasn’t for you, it was for me, you came into my life when I needed a friend, someone not on my board or a member of my church but just a real friend that I could enjoy and relax with away from all of that.”
I look back on that moment now tearing up and remembering what a great friend he was, how much he loved everyone he met, how he always had time for anyone who asked for his time. We never went anywhere that he was not recognized and approached, he always was gracious and loving to everyone even while his dinner got cold, but it didn’t matter, Charles was the real deal! He was the man you always hoped you would find out that he was. I could write six chapters of a book on the great things we got to share together, but more than anything he was a real friend. Every time we talked he asked about how Sherelene was doing, he cried with me when we lost Wesley. He prayed for us at the beginning of our book project and wrote a beautiful forward for the book, I was shocked when he asked me to write the forward for his giant coffee table book of his life’s work! I was petrified at the thought of that task, but when I sent the Holy Spirit inspired forward to him he cried on the phone and said, “it’s perfect!”
No Charles you were perfect, a perfect friend, a perfect servant of Christ, a man of honor and integrity and the deepest love for your God. Yesterday you finally met the Lord you so faithfully served for all those years, and I am sure he said, “Charles, well done my good and faithful servant. welcome home!”
I bet Wes was one of those that greeted him, which I imagine was a tough ticket to get!
My Forward from His Book: I Love To Tell The Story
As a Lifelong photographer, I’ve greatly enjoyed seeing and sharing in the vision others. What is in a man’s heart will find it’s way into the images he captures. The extraordinary images in this book testament to the heart of Charles Stanley.
I’ve been honored to to call Charles one of my best friends for many years. We’ve shared great photographic adventures together, and he’s had a profound impact on my walk with the Lord. For years many of Charles other photographer friends and I have encouraged him to produce a book of his favorite work. I’m so pleased to see the project come to fruition.
Charles Stanley is a master storyteller, teacher and mentor, and in this book you get a glimpse his vision of God’s great creation. For decades, he has taught and inspired Christians around the world in their daily relationship with God. Now you can share in this intimate look at his passion for photography and share in the great joy God has given him through the practice of his craft.
We learn in scripture that God desires to not only meet our needs but also to give us the desires of our hearts. I know God has blessed Charles with the renewing pleasure of photography in his life. So sit back, relax and enjoy your journey through this wonderful collection of Charles work. In it you will discover the authenticity of a man whose heart belongs to God and whose vision has been inspired by that relationship.
I promise you will be blessed.