Sunday, May 30, 2010

To Photograph Such Things

A favorite pastime of mine these days is studying photography. Usually after Isaac has gone to bed, and Alan and I are in our wind-down mode, I get online and search through local photographers and national photographers and their sites to get inspiration, to learn new tricks, to challenge myself to improve, to see what subjects other photographers are capturing and learn how they get those crisp black and white images or that perfect lighting technique, and learning who is behind the lens of these amazing pictures.

I've been wondering for a while what would be a good verse to go with my design and photography business. God has been very gracious to me to allow me to work from home doing what I love. Yes, at times business can be slow, but I'm still new to this and do not have a lot of money for advertising. But God is good, and knows that my desire is not to make tons of money through this, just enough to help support my family while doing what I love. And when things are tight and we that extra penny for something, He always comes through and someone books a session at just the right time.

When I was studying communications in college, I loved to write. Writing was my passion. Or so I thought. I started out as a music major, with emphasis on piano, which not many people know, but decided that I didn't like to perform (which also required living in a big city and spending my whole life practicing!), and I didn't want the politics of the school system if I taught, so I realized what I liked most about music was all of the behind the scenes and decided to change my major so that I could one day work in some form of music marketing, producing or publishing.

But the Lord laughs at our plans :). And in my case I had to laugh at myself a little-I hated performing, so it was no surprise to me that I switched, although I still have a love for music. But funny thing-writing wasn't his plan for me either. I walked into a job interview at a local newspaper in which I thought I was applying for their local feature column as a writer, and walked away with a job there as a graphic designer. Playing with the photos each editor brought in daily is what spiked my interest in digital photography and photography in general. I think that's why I love photojournalism so much, from spending hours editing the photos that the editors took depicting the happenings in daily life around them-nothing posed.

So God took me on a journey and brought me here, to Manhattan, and with that the possibility to work from home, which has always been my dream. And with every session that I've done I have come to love the people that I photograph, who let me in on their lives and intimate moments between family, between lovers, between grandparents and their grandchildren, with seniors on the cusp of the adventure of their lives. I am priviledged to be a part of these moments. I am honored to be asked to capture them, that these photos may be treasured for generations to come.

And so that brings me back to finding that verse. I am currently redesigning my photography website...again. I know, I've had the business for only two years, and yet have gone through about five site designs so far! The reasoning is, well, there isn't any reason-I just love designing so much that I'm not content very long with one design. One way to get design ideas for a photography site is to view other photographer's sites, so last night as I researched some websites for inspiration, I came across this blog post written by a young photographer:

"I am anointed to take photographs at a level this world is not familiar with. All for the glory of God."

I had to read it a few times to really let it sink in. Don't get me wrong, this photographer has a lot going for them, and starting young, has many great opportunities in store in this field, and I truly wish them the best. However, and I say this not in criticism, but in humbleness to my friend in Christ: God does not anoint us to do the things in which we do, but gives us the skill needed to carry out His purpose. In the book of Exodus, it is written that the Lord gave the skill and knowledge needed for various tasks:

“…and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship… He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.” (Exodus 35:31-35)

Nothing is said that God anointed any of these laborers personally for His needs. He did not anoint the designer or the craftsman, the wood worker or the weaver, but He filled them with the knowledge and skill that they would need to carry out His elaborate design for the Tabernacle which would hold the Ark of the Covenant. This was some pretty serious stuff to design and construct, and yet He did not anoint any of the workers.

That brings me to the second half of the quoted sentence above, “…at a level this world is not familiar with.” I’m not quite sure where the blog writer/photographer is going with this, but the way I read it I see them being prideful in their work, as if to say that no one else in this world understands the depths of skill and ability that this photographer has.  Personally, I feel that God probably laughs at our attempts at art. If you have ever seen the beauty and majesty of brilliant magentas swirled into fiery orange hues while dancing with the navy sky at dusk, then you have seen God’s paintbrush. But to try to paint that image ourselves, we would be more than unqualified to try to master the Master’s hand.

Last night I was up late looking at photographs on a photo contest sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute, and they have a site for their “Photo of the Day”. As I looked through them, I was amazed at the vast array of images, of the quality and nature of the photograph, and I felt more than unworthy after looking back then on the images I had just entered for this year’s contest. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the five years since my first photography class in college, it’s that I can aspire to be a great photographer, but I will never accomplish being a great photographer. There will always be another photographer out there that is better than me, and I am ok with that because I know that the skills I need, the Lord will provide as long as I am willing to learn what He wills to teach me.

So I guess that if I were to rewrite that blogger’s sentence, it would be something like this:

“I am honored and privileged to take photographs of all of His creation at the level and skill that God has ordained for me. All for the glory of God.”

And back to finding the verse for my business-I found it last night in Paul’s letter in Philippians 4:8,

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

It is my desire to photograph such things. Soli deo gloria!


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