A camera, a Bible and a purpose: Father of two puts Scriptures into focus on Instagram

Steve Atwell, a father of two and a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Beverly Hills, started his Instagram account, “The Word Today,” five years ago as a way to combine his love for photography and his love for the Scriptures. Today, the account has more than 800 followers, with Atwell posting nearly every day. (Photo by Valaurian Waller | Screenshot via Instagram)

With daily posts on his account, ‘The Word Today,’ Steve Atwell brings the good news to life on popular social media platform

BEVERLY HILLS — Steve Atwell has made it a habit to carry around a camera wherever he goes. He never knows when he’ll be inspired to take a photo.

Whether it’s a shot of nature, an iconic building or religious architecture that speaks to him, Atwell knows he’ll use it later on his growing Instagram account, The Word Today.

He's not a millennial, or even a Gen Z-er. 

Yes, he’s a Baby Boomer and a father of two. With an Instagram following.

The account is his way to evangelize on the popular, photo-focused social media account, where he pairs shots of nature or churches with passages from the day’s Scripture readings.

“I started going to daily Mass after dropping my kids off at school, and that’s when I started getting used to the daily rhythm of readings throughout the liturgical year beyond Sunday Mass,” Atwell told Detroit Catholic. “I became involved as a weekday lector, and out of habit, I started to read the daily readings as part of my morning routine.”

Atwell has collected 800 followers on The Word Today in his five years of making daily posts.

A regional district deputy with the Knights of Columbus and a sacristan at his parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beverly Hills, Atwell combines the photographs he takes — sometimes while walking home from Mass — and combines them using text from the day’s liturgy to make a post. 

“I just like the visual aspect of Instagram, where you can offer more than just a photo and a description of what’s there,” Atwell said. “When I started using the platform, it had a simple layout with the grids. I felt it was simple to get a lot of images on screen, play around with the texts and create something unique.”

In addition to his Instagram account, Atwell uses another social sharing site, Blipfoto, to take a post a photo each day. That got him into the habit of carrying his camera wherever he goes, contemplating the Word of God along the way.

“I usually spend my mornings with the Magnificat, and then I do the daily readings for Mass. It’s not just the readings and the Gospel, but the entrance antiphon and Communion antiphon, sometimes I get encouragement from those,” Atwell said.

Atwell is surprised how much the account has grown, though he admits a few of his posts featuring images of the Blessed Mother have been particularly popular. “Everyone likes Mom,” he said.

In addition to developing a new way to evangelize, Atwell said the project has helped him to appreciate “the ebb and flow of the liturgical season.”

“My account incorporates the natural seasons, with shots of winter during Advent and shots of spring for Easter. I’ve taken a lot of photos of different churches in the Archdiocese of Detroit, and those are always popular with people when they turn up on The Word Today,” Atwell said.

The simple layout and design of the posts are meant to draw viewers into the texts, Atwell said.

“I hope people who view the account might take an interest in what God is trying to say to them,” Atwell said. “The Lord speaks to us every day, whether we hear it or not. He is there, trying to keep us on track. God’s beauty is everywhere, and that’s what the background image is meant to imply.”

Atwell doesn’t consider himself to be much of an apologist or homilist, but he’s grateful for the opportunity to share his faith, in some small way.

“I’m humbled by and grateful for each and every follow, like, comment, message, and occasional repost,” Atwell said.