A printed photo has two sides, obviously. A front and a back.
But emotionally speaking, every photo has two sides as well.
The front is the side we talk about much….the photo itself. Is it a good photo? How does it make the viewer feel? Is the message the photographer is trying to communicate communicated well?
For example, here’s a shot I took at the Northwoods Family Conference last week:
I like this photo. I think it’s one of the better ones of the bunch taken for the conference-end slideshow. I think it inspires reverential feelings, potentially awakening nostalgic emotions surrounding pleasant memories of holiday services in spacious cathedrals. We talk often about how lighting, composition, subject matter and choice of camera settings play into how well a photo is created and the message delivered.
But there’s another side of a photo….the photographer himself.
What was the photographer feeling at the time he took that photo? Was he happy or sad? Confident or nervous? Excited or discouraged? Inspired or tired?
This is something talked less about, but it’s amazing how much it plays into how well a photo turns out, if it’s even created at all.
Think about it. If you are happy, confident, excited and inspired about doing something, would you say you would do a better job at doing it?
It’s no different in photography.
I took very few photos the first couple days at the Conference. Due to all sorts of random things, I was feeling a bit discouraged. I was tired. I had a lot on my mind.
And my guess is that nobody noticed. I was the Conference photographer. Everyone was expecting me to get great pictures. I had done it dozens of times before. Why would this time be any different?
But the truth was, I knew I was very much underperforming.
By the second-to-the-last day, I remember crashing on my bed and prayerfully asking God to help me to….I don’t know! I didn’t know what I was asking for. I couldn’t just quit taking pictures because I didn’t feel like it! I had a job to do, but I just didn’t have the motivation to do it. Something was wrong, and I just really needed to throw myself into His arms! I am so thankful for the rest and peace that only God can give in these moments.
All the worlds problems weren’t solved in that short time, but something impressed me that sparked a ray of hope…
“James, you’re not just a photographer; you’re God’s photographer.”
I ran on that for the rest of the day. I ran on that for the rest of the Conference. It wasn’t the best conference-end slideshow in the world, but it was at least a slideshow!
I can not be a good photographer on my own. I don’t have the strength to do it. I am only a photographer because I know it’s what God wants me to do. I shouldn’t be taking pictures otherwise. I’m God’s photographer! I have no confidence of my own. I can not even do the simplest things without it being God who inspires me with excitement to do them, and to do them with excellence and integrity.
As my sister said soon after, “The verse, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me’ is in context of both abounding and suffering, thus making my circumstances irrelevant….If things are going well, I live because Christ is my life; if things are going badly, I live because Christ is my life.”
While we zealously pursue excellence in creating the greatest emotional impact possible on the “front side” of our photographs, may we, as the photographer on the “other side” of each photo, ever seek to tap into the Source of all good inspiration and confidence.
And so! on that note, can you tell me which of these photos on the “front side” inspire you the most?
I’m putting together the 2019 Lenspiration Calendar and would love to get your feedback, likes and comments on which photos you think I should use!
All input provided by Sunday midnight, September 15, 2018, will weigh the heaviest in my final decision.
Here’s the Facebook album of all 44 candidates: 2019 Lenspiration Calendar Possibilities.
Thanks so much!