In 1989, the Johannesburg Temple had been serving people for four years, yet there had never been an official picture taken that showed its real beauty. The front view was blocked by trees, while aerial photos showed only the roof.
After many frustrating attempts to capture an appropriate picture of the Temple, President Canfield decided to use a professional. A very talented young Jewish photographer named Trevor Simon just happened to have one of only two specially-designed cameras in South Africa that could handle the Temple challenge which required three pictures: one at midday, one at dusk, and one at night with the Temple lights shining.
Since this was before panoramic cameras, in order to get the entire Temple in one shot, they had to build a special platform twenty feet high on the neighbour's property just over the back wall. The day arrived for the actual shooting.
This was also before Photoshop, so Trevor’s comment to President Canfield seemed impossible: “The only thing that could improve this scene would be to have a few clouds in the sky behind the temple.”
The sky was completely clear and had been for almost two months, yet President Canfield remarked, 'If the Lord wants clouds in the picture of His house, they will be there.'
Trevor shrugged and made some final adjustments on his camera. Then, as he looked through the range finder, everything was perfect, including the appearance of a few soft clouds in the sky. 'What a stroke of luck! Clouds are there!' Trevor exclaimed. President Canfield didn't say a word, and Trevor didn't notice the smile on his face.
President Canfield responded, 'If the Lord doesn't want clouds in this picture of His house, they won't be there.' This time Trevor didn't laugh, but he smiled as he continued his final adjustments on the camera.
Then President Canfield turned to Trevor. 'Look, Trevor, no clouds.' Trevor didn't say a word. He was creating a photographic masterpiece, and he knew it.
The final pictures were to be taken after dark with the spotlights reflecting off the spires into a black sky. Trevor began checking all the details. The lights on the Angel Moroni were fine-tuned. The lighting on the gardens even brought out the green color of the grass and the glow of the natural rock.
Trevor marvelled that the light on the temple seemed to be coming from above rather than from below, and President Canfield smiled. 'Trevor, you wanted clouds, and the Lord gave you clouds. You wanted a clear sky, and the Lord gave you a clear sky. The light IS shining down on this temple. How many signs do you need?'
For additional articles on the Johannesburg temple and other stories about members in the Africa Southeast Area, visit africase.lds.org or www.facebook.com/ldsafricase.
Original account by Reed J Webster, Second Counselor in the Johannesburg Temple Presidency, 1992; excerpted by Marnae Wilson