Archive › May, 2009

Travel Photography With a Purpose

Travel photography…two of my favorite words that together bring a smile to my face and a bounce in my step! It’s such an exciting challenge to capture and communicate the kaleidoscope of cultures, people, new sounds, and unique places found overseas. Travel photography gives me a fresh outlook and sharpens my photography skills.

However I’ve learned something surprising along the way. Traveling for the sake of traveling, though educational, can get wearing and commonplace after awhile. Despite going on little sleep, lugging around bags loaded with gear, and frequently putting myself in danger for just the right shot, many times these images just fill up my external hard drives. It is like the servant in Jesus’ parable who buried his talent in the ground. If I don’t use these images to communicate God’s truths, I am wasting the talents and message God has entrusted me with. This is one of the reasons why I went back to Israel.

During my first trip to Israel, the places of the Bible became three-dimensional and it changed forever how I visualize Scripture. God poured His blessing out on that trip and I returned home with thousands of images documenting those places so others could “visit” through my lens.

I had no idea that the images would have such an effect on the people who saw them. They got excited about the truths learned and walked away changed. Soon God made it clear that my task was to publish a book of Israel. However looking through my images, the places were documented, but the heart and people of Israel was missing. I needed to go back and efficiently capture the rest in one trip. I had to shoot with a purpose.

Six weeks before I left, I put together an outline for the book and Mandy helped me develop a layout design. This allowed me to evaluate and make a shot list of what images were needed from each place and what concept images would give the story depth.

While in Israel, I traveled with a tour group, so it didn’t allow me extra time to wander. Knowing that I was shooting for square pages changed my composition as I shot. At some places I didn’t need to take a single image, while at others I was very busy! There were a few locations I was unsure – and tended to overshoot them because I didn’t know what I was looking for. Each evening I took time to keyword the location information during download to maintain accuracy and simplify the process of sorting them later.

Now that I am home and in the middle of the design process, I’m seeing that the storyline of the book is much stronger because it was shot with a purpose. The time and work it took to plan ahead of time became invaluable to the success of the project. I was able to shoot more creatively because I could visualize the end product – which helped me make wise shooting decisions along the way.

So what message do you have to share with the world? Shoot with a purpose.

—IPS Instructor Katie Miller

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Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

It is 9:45 a.m. on this lovely Wednesday morning. Twenty-three student photographers are preparing to take the local Dallas farmer’s market by “storm with the lens.” We have each been directed on the story we need to tell. Now it is up to us to interpret what this story means…to tell the world our version through this amazing invention called a lens. Twenty-two different pairs of eyes. Twenty-two different brains. Twenty-two uniquely and creatively designed people who are setting out on a quest to tell this story…from their perspective. Incredible? Definitely!

I have always known there was alot I didn’t know…but I am realizing, especially today, that the little amount I do know about this amazing thing we call “photography” hardly dusts the surface of all that there is to know! This whole concept of having purpose and vision behind every image we capture has really stood out to me. It has made me think seriously about why I take a picture. What am I looking for? How will this image tell the story I want to portray to my audience? And most importantly, how will this image make a difference…for the Kingdom of God?

Our instructors have been awesome in weaving in the foundation of photography (beauty, which comes from God) with the nitty gritty of pixels, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, composition, and all the other details which make one frantically excited about one’s camera (smile). My brain feels very full and wonderfully “new” as I keep learning!

We are really starting to have fun together as students as we get to know each other better and learn as a group! I can’t wait to see what else God is going to do this week! It has been great so far…gotta love those cameras!

—Prizewinning Photography Student Chelsy Bontrager

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