MISSION VIEJO, CALIF.
Sandi Gentry and her daughter Claire find people fascinating and know that everyone has a story to tell. On March 2, 2014, they set out to capture through “Mormon Faces” these stories among members of the LDS community.
“We started a photojournalist project, documenting members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said Claire, 18. “We interview and photograph Mormons from around the world and post their stories on our Instagram account @mormonfaces.”
They have been impressed by what Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said about the positive use of social media: “The Lord is hastening His work, and it is no coincidence that these powerful communication innovations and inventions are occurring in the dispensation of the fullness of times. Social media channels are global tools that can personally and positively impact large numbers of individuals and families.
“And I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father, His plan of happiness for His children, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the world; to proclaim the reality of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days; and to accomplish the Lord’s work” (“To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood,” 2014 BYU Campus Education Week).
“Mormon Faces” gives people the opportunity to share their story. It gives them a platform to voice their knowledge and love of the gospel with people sharing a hope to inspire and uplift others. “Members of the Church have been so willing to testify of the gospel and share their experiences with us, and for that we are so grateful,” said Sister Gentry.
The mother and daughter, who are members of the Covenant Hills Ward, Mission Viejo California Stake, have interviewed all types of people: little children, grandparents, neighbors, artists, businessmen, recent converts and mission presidents. “We’ve seen so much diversity within the Church and have come to love its members. We’ve loved this experience meeting new, interesting people and hearing their testimonies,” said Claire.
“We find everyone we interview to be inspiring,” said Sister Gentry. “Each person has a different and unique story to tell, and those who say they don’t are usually the most fascinating. We recently interviewed a lady from England who was shy and told us she didn’t have anything to share. But once she started talking, we were stunned as she unraveled her conversion story from the 1960s in England, how she served a mission, and how she saw the prophet David O. McKay in person. The Spirit was so strong as she shared her personal experiences. We feel so fortunate we have the opportunity to listen to these people share their life experiences and learn from them.”
“Mormon Faces” was created with the intent to uplift others and bring good into the dark world of social media, said Claire. “That first night, we posted six pictures and shared it with our friends and family without any idea how people would respond. We could never have imagined the support and love we have received. Now we have over 7,300 followers and continue to grow.”
“It’s hard to say where the inspiration to start this account came from, but it’s definitely been an inspiring journey,” said Sister Gentry. “When we first started we had no idea where it would take us, but we have definitely loved the experience. We feel that this is only the beginning! There is still a world of people out there we want to meet!”
Sandi Gentry is a mother of six, her youngest is about to turn eight and her oldest son is returning home this summer from serving a mission in Madrid, Spain. She is a professional photographer, who has spent time in the blogging and digital magazine world, but is now focusing her time on her family. “Mormon Faces” is her current creative outlet.
Claire is a senior at San Juan High School, and she will be attending BYU Provo in the fall. She is working as the social media coordinator for Big Air OC Trampoline Park and is growing her own photography business.