Volunteer Spotlight: Craig Stilen, Photographer Extraordinaire

By Sally Johnson

Craig Stilen has been a member of HumanistsMN for nearly a decade. He can often be found at  our events behind the long lens of a Nikon camera. 

Craig was first drawn to secular humanism through his reading of nonfiction and science works by Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, and others. “I came to realize the negative influence religion has on the science content of school textbooks, and society in general,” he says. “I needed to join like-minded people and support causes that embrace science. Explaining the hard stuff in the natural world by way of an ‘outside agency’ just doesn’t cut it.”

A longtime photography enthusiast, Craig generously shares his talents by documenting many of our events with his quality images, as he did for our recent Day of Reason at the Capitol. “My favorite subjects to capture are interactions with people in event photography – the random moments and sheer serendipity of getting (hopefully) great pictures is the payoff,” he says. He was first drawn to photography in high school while processing reprints at a film lab. As digital technology has taken over the medium, Craig has continued to hone his ability to capture the moment. He has also done event photography for the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, another group he’s involved with. 

While he enjoys shooting events, he also appreciates those times when he can leave his camera at home and enjoy the wide variety of programs HMN offers. “I’m always impressed by the consistency of active members who do a lot of the work organizing activities,” he says. “I have to admit my participation wanes when work and life get busy, but I always look forward to the date in the calendar when I can jump back into HMN events.” His favorite events include the HUBRIS bike rides led by Jerry Smith in the warmer months, guest speakers, book discussions, and of course the happy hours.  

“It’s great to have a community of like-minded people, imbued with common ideals, without those ideals being religious or overtly spiritual,” he says. Craig’s perspective reminds us how meaningful a secular community can be and how lucky we are to have members who bring such wonderful talents to our group.

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Craig followed his wife, Sue, to Minneapolis in the early 1990s. While furthering his photography skills, he has had a long career in IT, most recently as a database administrator for the State of Minnesota. His IT skills come in handy for finding the best methods for storing lots of digital photos. 

We so appreciate all that Craig does for HMN!


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