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Photographer travels around America capturing every LDS temple in the US

Scott Jarvie has called almost all 50 states home in the last eight months as he’s immortalized the beauty of every LDS temple in America with his Nikon D800 camera.

With Jarvie’s car doubling as his residence, this member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spends his days on the road, navigating U.S. cities for LDS temples and other religious buildings.

His journey started with an idea he had in March 2013, five years after he became a full-time photographer.

“I was feeling like everything was great, but I wanted to do something more,” Jarvie said. “I prayed about it, and the answer I got was that I should make an LDS temples book.”

Jarvie had acquired an online fan base after a picture he took of the Salt Lake LDS Temple went viral, and he looked to this group for support as he launched a Kickstarter project.

On Kickstarter, Jarvie promised fans a book featuring every temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United States, and in return, asked them to help fund a yearlong escapade around the country.

“I didn’t want to just go out and photograph 30 temples and call it good. I wanted to spend a year documenting all 70 LDS temples in the U.S.,” Jarvie said.

One month later and halfway to his $70,000 goal, Jarvie accepted that he wasn’t going to be able to take the full trip he’d planned.

It was the last day of his Kickstarter project when his phone rang.

“With just a few hours left, an old friend called and said he happened to see me on the news, even though he barely has the TV on,” Jarvie said. “He asked, ‘How much more do you need?’ ”

Since last fall, Jarvie has photographed every LDS temple in the U.S. apart from those in Alaska and Hawaii, which he plans to capture next month.

The bright colors Jarvie uses in his work represent the temple as being “a light on a hill.”

“We really light up our temples more than any other religion,” Jarvie said. “We incorporate light into the design, the building and the landscape.”

Jarvie aims to share that light in his book, but he desires something more than just the photographs.

After receiving so much support from those who crowd-funded his experience, he decided to hone his crowd-sourcing skills.

“We are excited to announce to the public that in addition to the beautiful pictures, the book will include a corresponding story/creative writing piece for every temple in the book,” Jarvie wrote on his website.

Because Jarvie’s skills don’t extend to the written word, he’s asked the public to submit their own stories, creative writings, historical perspectives and essays.

Each contribution will be featured on his website, but only one submission per temple will be chosen for the book.

“The unique and well-written stories get high precedence,” Jarvie said. “We want a variety of stories. If we get a writing from one of the architects of the temples or someone that has a historical perspective, then that’ll be really interesting.”

Jarvie will be accepting submissions until the beginning of July.

In addition to his LDS temples book, Jarvie is working on another book titled “Faith in America,” with the goal of photographing other religious buildings in hopes of restoring and supporting American piety.

“When I go through a city, I’ll do some quick research to see which religious buildings will be old, photogenic or just unique,” Jarvie said. “I’ve gotten everything from big, beautiful cathedrals to little tiny countryside one-room buildings.”

During his project, Jarvie has welcomed missionary opportunities.

Self-described as a “quiet example,” Jarvie said many people ask him questions about the temple when they see his work.

“I’ve felt like this has been a character-building experience to live on the road and be open to be directed by the Spirit,” Jarvie said.

Jarvie plans to publish his LDS temples book in November. The book will primarily be sold on LDS Bookstore and on his website, Jarvie Digital.

“I hope people get a book and they put in a prominent place and look at it often,” Jarvie said. “I hope to create a beautiful piece of art that inspires people and helps them remember a symbol of our religion.”

Megan Marsden Christensen writes for the Faith and Family sections. She recently graduated from BYU-Idaho with a bachelor's degree in communication.