A Flower Communion Invitation

From member David Gaynes and the Worship Team


Our flower communion will take place “virtually” this year on June 21, 2020 because of the quarantine, but we intend for it to be as transformative and meaningful as ever, and we ask humbly for the participation of as many congregants as possible in the following collaborative video project.  Rather than exchanging flowers as is our custom, we are going to exchange our faces with one another, as our faces and our presence remain a gift we can give one another despite social distancing. This idea will take some effort to blossom, but we invite you to join us in communion with one another in the hope that it can be transcendent in its own unique way.

We are inviting all congregants to sit for and submit an unedited video “portrait” of 3-5 minutes. During this time you can look at the camera, look away from the camera, imagine that the camera is a fellow congregant you wish you could see in front of you, all of the above, more than the above, etc. 

The one thing we ask is that you sit or stand for this “self-portrait” and be as fully present as possible for the interval in which you are being recorded.  

Three to five minutes of time spent “in pose” in video is a challenge and it may feel awkward.  Submissions will be edited into a montage. We promise they will not be used “raw”; but to conjure the kind of honest and genuine presence we are looking to capture, we are attempting to limit self-editing or censoring so that what emerges from the exercise is something authentic and uniquely you.

Participants can photograph themselves alone, with a loved one, with a family, or a pet. Families and spouses can also choose to sit individually. Choice of location and background (or foreground element), lighting, time of day are all yours to be creative and experiment with. 

We ask that you not speak. Videos will be used without their ambient sound and edited to music.  If it inspires you, you can play music in the background, but please don’t sing along.  If you must speak during the recording, provide instruction, release tension, of course you can and should, but please refrain from a running commentary.  We want to see you in your quiet strength and celebrate the moving image of you.  

You may make eye contact with the camera or you may not. Or both.  What you choose to do with your gaze, you position, your motion is yours to choose throughout the recording.

The simplest way of describing what we are trying to capture is the quality of your “seeing” your fellow congregants and the act of being seen by your fellow congregants.

Lighting: this is where your creativity can again really shine.  You choose your lighting and background and feel free to experiment.  Often “backlit” videos can make foreground subjects (e.g. you) dark on screen because of intense window light behind the subject, but you can use background lighting creatively as well. Soft light (early morning/post-sunset, north-facing) can be beautiful; harsh lighting (sunrise/sunset) can be powerful as well. Light (sunlight, electric or candle, etc.) is a very powerful element. Strongly consider how you can use light as a “character” in your portrait to create a unique feeling, mood, or sense of place.

Background: Similar to lighting, you have complete control over the environment where you choose to shoot this. Do we see more or less? Is it about your face or about a larger “context” that you create? Do we see anything at all other than your face? A backdrop, bare wall, painting, darkness – all of this is yours to experiment with.

Camera angle: Similar to the above, you can position the camera in a straightforward way, or choose a unique and unexpected angle (very low, looking up, very high looking down) from which to capture yourself. All are acceptable.

You have many creative choices for how to capture yourself.  But mostly, we suggest having those creative choices support your comfort with the challenging task of being present for the lens for 3-5 minutes.

Here are some tips:  

  • If using a phone, we ask that it be oriented in landscape mode (horizontal/wide image, not vertical/tall image, which is commonly referred to as “portrait” mode).  
  • You may also request to be filmed over zoom, which our Liturgist Team can record externally.  (See below for contact information.) 
  • Additionally, provisions can be made for a socially distanced video portrait shoot to take place in an outdoor space with a videographer; appointments will be separated into 15-minute intervals to minimize social contact.  

Send the video in by Monday June 15th at noon

  • Upon completion we ask that you to send the full, unedited file in its original camera resolution (not compressed/shortened, etc.) to our editor David Gaynes.
  • There are a number of ways a file can be submitted, including sharing via iCloud, Google Photos, or file transfer services such as YouSendIt/Hightail, Google Drive or Dropbox (with Download File enabled).

Here’s help:Thanks to the  Liturgists! We want this project to feel approachable by all of our members. If you have questions about how to record a video, how to send a video, or if you want to arrange to have a video taken of you, please be in touch with liturgist Dan Silver.