09/30/2013 08:43 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Religious Fanatics Lose Themselves Speaking In Tongues (PHOTOS)

One of a photographer's greatest challenges is capturing the image of a seemingly invisible or personal happening, thus translating an internal experience to the external sphere. Photographer Dominic Hawgood explores the authenticity, or lack thereof, in encapsulating these moments in his series "The Conversation."


On the surface, the project aims to capture the spiritual ritual of speaking in tongues, a biblical practice in which a person utters incomprehensible and ostensibly sacred syllables. Yet more important than capturing the act itself, is exploring the process of representing an internal and mythical event.

"The series deals primarily with the idea of truth, what constitutes this and how the ‘authentic’ is attained within a staged moment," Hawgood wrote in an email to the Huffington Post. "I am interested in the process of representing another’s internal experience, and to capture something so inherently personal is a huge challenge and acutely problematic."

Hawgood began by placing an online ad in a newspaper calling for subjects who speak in tongues. He arranged to meet with some of them while they enacted their daily prayer, foregoing traditional documentary aesthetics for more cinematic lighting. Toying with ideas of what truth looks like, Hawgood reveals the authenticity in artifice. Can you parse the fact from the fiction? Let us know in the comments.