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A Vision for Missions Photography

A Vision for Missions Photography

On Monday I launched a new blog series by sharing 5 reasons why you should go on a Short Term Missions Trip this summer. Today I want to further cast a vision for how you can use your camera for God’s glory and to expand His Kingdom.

In the past 15 years of my personal mission with a camera, here are 5 of the biggest reasons I’ve experienced to use a camera for missions.

1. Share your Gift

As a photographer you have a gift, a way of seeing the world that’s unique from those around you. God has made everyone different, yet we’re supposed to fit and work together as the body of Christ to share His love with others. If you don’t use your camera, you are actually neglecting your talents and the body will suffer as a result. Of course, photography probably isn’t your only gift, so be sure to moderate!



Me, my camera, and some new friends. Photo courtesy of Karen Kallberg.

2. Remember God’s Mighty Works

Throughout Scripture God calls upon people to remember the mighty works He has done for them. Photography is perhaps the best way to remember that has ever been invented! Photographing people coming to Christ, being baptized, handing out food, or just going about their day on a trip will forever recall those events and works of God.


Summer Missions Trip Memories

A group photo helps students remember their experience at a summer camp and what God did in their hearts.

3. Share the Story

Instagram taught us that photography was meant to be shared. We share everything from selfies to latte art. Shouldn’t you also be sharing the story of what God is up to? Maybe it’s your story, maybe the story of your team, or maybe a story you encounter as you go, but be sure to put that camera to work sharing the stories of what God is up to.


Garbage dump in Phnom Phen

A photo of this little boy tells a far more powerful story than just trying to describe the scene in words.

4. Build Relationships

Your camera is either a bridge or a barricade. A barricade is something you hide behind when you should be talking to people. A bridge is a tool you use to build relationships with people you probably wouldn’t even have met otherwise. I have found that my camera is one of the best ways to meet people because everyone likes photography and they want to know what you’re taking photos of any why. Boom! Instant conversation and relationship. Use it!


IPS - Where Photographers come to Learn

This photographer isn’t hiding behind her camera, but used it to start a conversation.

5. Encourage Participation

When you use your camera to share the story of what God is doing you invite others to participate with you in that story. Your photos are a great way to get people to pray for you and your team or to contribute financially. Back in the early days of my travel I began posting daily update photos and text to let our team supporters know what was going on. Our website received hundreds of thousands of views as people wanted to know what we were up to and join us in prayer!



A missionary used dozens of my photos like this one to get her supporters praying for specific people in her world.

Photography is fun and using your camera for the glory of God is important. Don’t put your camera away, and don’t you dare hide behind it when you have the opportunity to use it to minister to others!

Have a good story about how you’ve seen God use your camera? Tell me below!

Check out the other posts in this series:

5 Reasons to Go on a Short Term Missions Trip

5 Lessons on Missions Photography from a Pro

Photography from a Missionary’s Perspective

What I Learned on My Summer Missions Trip

An IPS Student in Africa

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5 Reasons to Go on a Short Term Missions Trip

Summer is the season for Short Term Mission Trips [STMT] and I’m a fan. I hope you’re going on a STMT this summer, because it will probably change your life. My life was changed in Taiwan in 1999 and ever since then I’ve been hooked!

Rowan in Taiwan with Friends 2003

I’ve made some amazing, life-long friends through short term mission trips. Here I am with some of them in Taiwan in 2003.

If you’re on the fence about a STMT as you read this, let me give you 5 reasons for why you should go:
1. Change of scenery – Getting out of your normal is a good thing. It presents you with new challenges, new patterns, and new things to think about. This is where growth happens.
2. Culture – Most people don’t think like you do. Stepping into another culture gives you the gift of seeing the world in a different way.
3. The team – Chances are good that you know some of your team well, others not so well, and maybe others not at all. Being forced to spend lots of time in a new culture in a different routine will, you guessed it, help you grow!
4. Ministry – Setting aside a week or two from your normal life to focus on meeting the needs of others in the name of Jesus is good. It will probably challenge you to spend more time giving and less time taking when you get home too.
5. Encouragement – Your trip might last a week, but the missionary or church you’re going to support is there long-term. Encourage them, give them life, love them in the name of Jesus and you’ve made a long-term impact in just a few short days.

Over the next few weeks I’m excited to share a series of posts focused on STMT and how you can use your skills as a photographer when you go. Here’s what you have to look forward to:

  • Using your Camera on STMT
  • Essentials of Cross Cultural Photography
  • 5 Tips from a Pro
  • A Missionary’s Perspective
  • Lessons of Sustainable Travel
  • Packing Essentials
  • Personal Stories from IPS Instructors
  • And more!

So what do you think? What’s your number one reason to go on a short term mission trip? Tell me below!

Check out the other posts in this series:

A Vision for Missions Photography

5 Lessons on Missions Photography from a Pro

Photography from a Missionary’s Perspective

What I Learned on My Summer Missions Trip

An IPS Student in Africa

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Pictures of the Week | May 5, 2014

Giraffe by Patricia Burk

Giraffe – Photo by IPS Student Patricia Burk for Digital Photography 1. This is an amazing photo! I love so many thing about it: the sharp focus, the great compression from zooming in, the other giraffe in the background, and the contrast between the giraffe’s face and the dark background.
#giraffe #dp1 #zoo #animals #zoom #nature #closeup #safari #filltheframe #amazing #beautiful #nikon #d5200

Bracelet Clasp by Jeri Beth Hardy

Bracelet Clasp Macro – photo by IPS student Jeri Beth Hardy [@southernbess] for Digital Photography 1. This shot is full of amazing detail. The way @southernbess turned the clasp so that it was flat to the camera gave her wonderful sharpness even though the depth of field is tiny in a macro image. Nice job of lens flipping!
#macro #lensflip #lensflipping #closeup #bracelet #gold #detail #intricate #nikon #d90

Baking Cookies by Meghan Murphy

Baking Cookies – Photo Essay by Meghan Murphy [@megbmurphy] for Digital Photojournalism. This 5 shot essay has beautiful lighting, consistent colors and theme, and shows the process of baking cookies from start to finish. Great job!
#photoessay #essay #baking #cookies #housework #photojournalism #storytelling #canon #5dmk2 #5dmkii

Learn more about

Lens Compression
Macro Photography
Photo Essays

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