Thursday, April 20, 2006


Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 28735, ƒ/5.3, 1/100
Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Christians everywhere study prayer for many different reasons. Some want to harness the power of the prayer in Matthew 16:20:
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
We want control. We want to be able and talk to God and for him to respond to our needs. We also see so many situations which we believe we know what is best.

I am sure you can think of many other reasons we pray. What struck me about the topic of prayer is how much we study prayer to be able to control it.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-125mm f/3.8-5.6 DC OS HSM, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/80
Debra Williams, D.D. did a study called “Scientific Research of Prayer: Can the Power of Prayer Be Proven?” Here is a link to the study Her research does show us even when people do not know they are being prayed for there still is an impact. Who wouldn’t want to tap into this healing power?

If our friends all got together and compared their notes on how to communicate to us in order to get what they want—how would this make us feel?

Is the purpose of prayer to get what we want or is it really about the relationship with God?
This is why I really like what is said in Romans 8:26 (see above). It paints the picture to me of a relationship which is so good and intimate it may resemble a couple who have been married for years and are in retirement and their movements with each other resemble a dance. Words are not always said, but they know each other so well as to not step on each others toes.
Isaiah 56:7
“these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations."
Christians in Photojournalism’s strength is in our prayer life. While individual prayer is our first priority, it is often when we are with those who are on a similar path in this life that we can learn from each other.
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Complete Acceptance

This is the season of weddings. Weddings are one of the highlight events of our time here on earth. Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding and he used the wedding as a metaphor in his parables.

John 3 29The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

There are very few people who can interrupt whatever I am doing and have my full attention. Each of these people is what I call my closest friends.

You can even know when someone else is interacting with a close friend. The mood changes and you are seeing a glimpse of the joy in their hearts when they interact with their friend.

Jesus talked about what friends will do for one another.

1 John 3 16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

What is so special about friendships that we stop what we are doing and give our full attention to these relationships?

Forgiveness is at the core of friendship. Tom Peters says corporations should actually reward people for failure, because failure means risk; and without risk there can be no success. In Laura Beth Jones book, Jesus CEO she relates a story:

I was once in a self-discovery group where people were not mincing words. One man, sitting very stiffly and quietly, was a candidate for promotion within his organization. His body language was a picture of caution and fear. Finally, a woman gave him this sound advice: "You just need to fail a few times. Then you will understand that people are going to love you even when you are not perfect."

We have all taken risks with people in the past and for many of us we have been sorely disappointed. We found out who wasn’t our friend for sure. Most of us then learned to take fewer risks so we would not feel the pain of the disappointment.

God did not rest until he created mankind in the Garden of Eden. He wanted relationships. Being his workmanship we were created in his likeness to desire relationships as well.

As we read through the Bible each story centers on the character’s relationship to others and to God. God allowed Job to be tested because he knew how strong the relationship was to begin with.

James 2 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"[a] and he was called God's friend.

The footnote in my Bible for “God’s friend” says, “This designation (see 2Ch 20:7) further describes Abraham’s relationship to God as one of complete acceptance.

It has been said to have a friend you must be a friend.

The Review

2 Peter 1:10 (Contemporary English Version)

10My friends, you must do all you can to show that God has really chosen and selected you. If you keep on doing this, you won't stumble and fall.

The portfolio review is one of the tensest times for most photographers. Most everyone we show our work to is someone we would like to work with and therefore anything less than I would like to use you is disappointing on some level. You are exposing your soul for review.

Some photographers have devised great presentations which help package their portfolio’s so the editor can see the images, know the skill of the photographer, how they see and have little trouble visualizing how it would look in their publication.

In photography there are generally stages of development. At Southwestern Photojournalism Conference Gary Fong and Jeanie Adams-Smith reviewed on stage three different photographers: student, pro with less than five years of experience and pro with more than five years of experience.

Gary asked how long they had been shooting and with the student he said this is good for your experience, if you had been shooting another year, not so good. With the seasoned professional photojournalist Gary and Jeanie both agreed the work was professional and technically superb. They wanted to see more intimacy in seasoned photographers work. They pointed to one photo which was a slice of life where the viewer feels like they are part of the experience and how much superior this was to the rest of his work.

At some point for the Christian photojournalist the shaft of God’s light shines brightly on you and reveals how your portfolio is a reflection of you. Are you personable? Do you get your hands dirty and into others lives? Jeanie Adams-Smith talked to one of the photographers how their photos showed their ability to get dirty.

My mentor Don Rutledge had two skills which I admired about his photography. The photo makes you feel like you are in the room with the subjects. The other skill was how Don could make the most cluttered environment coherent and beautiful. While these are excellent they were only framework for the content of most all of his photos—love. You would see straight into the subject’s situations and feel compassion for them or joy from what they were doing.

Our portfolios must “show God has really chosen and selected” us. We must do everything technically the best it can be and then we need to have our father’s eyes. We need to pray God will help us see his children as he sees them.

Photojournalism at its best is about relationships. It shows mankind interacting with one another. By doing this at our best then the world will begin to see the world as God desires and the world will know you are his disciple.

John 13:34-35 (Contemporary English Version)

34But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. 35If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.

John 17:21 (Contemporary English Version)

21I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Secret To Good Communications--A Well Told Story!

We will sit on the edge of our chairs, laugh until we cry and forget the time of day when someone tells us a good story.

There are many ways to tell a good story--my favorite is the cinema and running a close second is the theater. Both of these use more of the senses than the printed page.

Don't get me wrong, I still love a strong "decisive moment" with a still image. I even love a good story around the camp fire or bedtime story, but when all the elements are there I am transported out of my world into another realm.

Some of my favorite movies have been the ones dealing with a cross cultural experience. I love the movie "Finding Forester." I love how the classic story where two people from different cultures find a common ground and through this interaction become better people for the experience.

"Remember the Titans," is another movie which also compels me to re-exam my own life.

Great stories don't just entertain--they change us. They help us to be more human by making us see our faults and frailties. It is through the storyteller that by being transported for a while into another world that as I return to the reality of the present I am different and look at my own culture in a new way.

Sometimes I appreciate my life more and other times I am reminded of my pride and lack of compassion for my fellow man.

What is exciting for everyone is hearing another person’s personal journey. We can hear the passion in the voice which awakens our on souls to respond. Our response is what can move the relationship to the intimate. A dialogue is started where our story is requested.

As we get older we are able to polish our story because the spectacles we use to look back over our life have had time to examine and focus on the details to see the colorful thread which is in the fabric of all our lives.

We can see our gifts and how they have been used to bless others. At first we didn’t know we could do anything really well and now we see we are not better than those around, but unique. The combinations of those things we do well and don’t do as well make us different from those around us who may even have a similar profession.

The cool thing for me is when I see how my story is more of a development of a character in the bigger story of community. It is when we come together in community to share our individual journeys we are able to see how we each are part of everyone’s story.