One other way I have found my voice as a Christian portrait photographer is through my involvement in Vacation Bible School. For many years I've volunteered to capture photos and video and then put together artful presentations summing up the fun week of Christian fellowship and outreach. As a kid, VBS was always for me a highlight and a total joy. That has not changed — getting to produce videos for VBS is my joy every year! It's the culmination of what I consider to be God's purpose for me. We lived in Connecticut for seven years and now in Minnesota for five, so some of the samples will be from Messiah Lutheran Church in South Windsor Connecticut and some are from Peace Lutheran Church in North Mankato, MN.
For this next VBS post, we added a custom background, and each of the kids created a box within the painting. It was a collaborative effort and was a really great way to have the kids involved in a the video.
When asked to write this article, I was concerned about one thing. Does my work really share God's light in a way that changes lives ... only God can know ... I guess I just wish I would have actual examples of this happening.
What it does do is this: moves people to tears, highlights God's beautiful creation in humanity and relationships, and places emphasis on his grace and love through friendship and family. I believe this photography journey is God's plan for me, to share his message and love through mvcomposingportraits.com as well as Vacation Bible School. It's been an honor and absolute blessing to have been given this gift.
THESE ARE VERSES that speak to me when I may feel timid about sharing my faith through my business.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
So I will spit you out of my mouth, because you are only warm and not hot or cold.
1 Timothy 4:12
Do not let anyone despise you because you are a young man. Show those who believe how they should live. Show them by the way you talk. Show them by the way you live. Show them by the way you love. Show them how to believe by the way you believe. Show them how to live a clean life by the way you live a clean life.
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I really enjoyed the examples of your work throughout this article, especially the VBS video. You truly captured the joy in the faces of all of those little ones. Showing the members of the congregation what goes on at things like VBS and other school function is a cool way to showcase different ministries that go on in the church that they might not necessarily know about. You said, "[It] moves people to tears, highlights God's beautiful creation in humanity and relationships, and places emphasis on his grace and love through friendship and family." and I couldn't agree more. A picture is worth a thousand words.
I'm not sure if your congregation does this, but showing that VBS video to your congregation after a church service, like I previously mentioned, is a great way to show congregation members who aren't necessarily involved in the VBS program to feel involved and see what a cool thing it is.
After reading your article, I was left wondering how you think your job as a photographer would be different if you weren't a Christian. How does it influence and inspire your work?
Thanks for your article!
To answer your question about how my job would be different without being a Christian is this...
It's influential to know that there is a purpose bigger than my business, I've been blessed to do what I love for over 10 years, and make a fair living at it. I always know that when I get stressed about owning a business I also look at what God has done through my business and for my family because of my work. I say weekly, God always brings me work as I need it and allows certain work to pass me by as my plate is full. I don't believe I'd be able to be in this inconsistently consistent business if it weren't for my faith. Speaking on terms of subject matter, it's very easy in this industry to become quite vain and go in directions that made lead you away from God's purpose and I aim to keep that in check. As I've aged and started raising children my focus of my work has changed from fashion forward design looking images, to wholesome joyous moments, and that has been a large turning point in my career as a focus. Finding the joy in the midst of life's stress and chaos and embracing the gift of relationships in this life that we've been given is my focus. It's been really fun to see what God can do when you give him the reigns!!!
I love how you are always looking for ways to share the word of God through your own personal business. Being able to share your faith while doing what you love is a very powerful blessing. Knowing that what you are doing is “the culmination of what I consider to be God's purpose” for you is an incredible calling. I had goosebumps when I watched the videos of the children being so happy to hear God’s word.
When I read through your article and looked through all the pictures and videos, I thought it might be helpful to put small clips into the videos of the children actually telling the camera something about God. Seeing the kids in action is amazing, but having a child confidently share their faith to the world is a one of a kind experience.
After looking through your work, one thing that really stuck out to me was your uncertainty on how far the message you are sharing is spreading. By saying, “does my work really share God’s light in a way that changes lives” is a really powerful and valid fear to have when sharing the gospel. What keeps you going despite the fear you have on how much your work will make a difference?
Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
I love the idea of the kids speaking on camera, I know I've done VBS videos like that before and it is powerful, I should do more:)
Thank you for the insightful question-
What keeps me going is the tears that are drawn every year from the parents of the kids in these videos and knowing that this experience will stay with the kiddos forever, sometimes we don't always remember life, but we remember seeing a photo or a video of ourselves and that stays as a memory. So much effort is put into the week of VBS and I just love being able to sum it up by creating these videos for all involved to have and remember and share with others! I also believe that one experience like this VBS could bring a young child to faith and having a video like that for that child could encourage them and their parents to take God's word seriously and get them involved with that church:)
Sharing the gospel message with others is not always about sitting down with someone and simply reading out of the Bible. There are so many other ways and opportunities to share the love of Jesus with others. I absolutely love how you share your way about intertwining your faith with photography work. You stated later in your post, “I love sharing God's word in this way.” Needless to say, this is such inspiration to me and I would love to find a way that is personal to me for sharing the gospel message of Christ with all people.
Watching your Vacation Bible School videos was moving for me, I love seeing how the power of the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of young children, it’s such a miracle. Getting these videos out to more people than simply the congregation of your VBS might be an opportunity to touch lots of people. Technology is so prominent in our society, your videos are just the thing that can reach out to others.
God has a plan for all of us. As you stated in your post, “When asked to write this article, I was concerned about one thing. Does my work really share God's light in a way that changes lives…” and this is something we all ask when trying to reach out to others about Christ. God has a plan for me and God has a plan for you in your future endeavors. Do you have any big future plans as you pursue your photography while intertwining it with God's Word?
Thank you for your thoughts and for your time!
Thank you for your kind words! You've inspired me to get a further reach with these videos...I really need to work towards that idea of further reach!
As far, as bigger plans, I'm very excited about working this year with "Options for Woman" of Mankato. It's a clinic that councils mothers to make positive decisions for their unplanned pregnancies. I'll be doing some photoshoots of mom's and their babies this spring as a gift to them as well as creating a video highlighting a woman who is willing to share her story. I've always wanted to get involved in an association like this since I was in this business of photography because it speaks so close to my heart. Motherhood is a total gift and joy even through all of the pains of raising children. Motherhood brings us immense fulfillment that can only be given by God. I'm excited to be involved in this way to help mothers see the joy in God's plan for children!
I appreciated your suggestion of using photography in ministry. The idea of it being a gift to use really stood out to me. I especially liked the fact that it can be used in activities such as Vacation Bible School by “summing up the fun week of Christian fellowship and outreach.” Being able to put God as the center of all things can be challenging, but this article brought to light the fact that it isn’t as difficult as it seems.
While reading this article, I thought that it would also be useful to use photography in a way to enhance the church decorations. I was kind of unsure of what the photos were used for besides your blog. I just think it would be intriguing if the use of photography in fellowship halls or bulletin boards was used or spoken about if already used.
After reading your article, I wondered if the videos you made of the Vacation Bible School moments were being used for outreach from the church or your personal ministry through your website. I just would like to know if the “highlight and total joy” of VBS was shown through the church.
Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
Thank you for your words and thoughts on my article!
I often post the videos to my personal website and facebook after I create them, which does get quite a reach, so that is exciting! I also, know the church posts them to their facebook, but since our church is very video heavy, there are videos posted continuously each week, it doesn't stay on the top long. I was thinking we should probably try to get these video more front and center on our churches website and facebook, to make them more viewable:) Thanks!
Also, as far as art in our church, I'm very blessed to be a part of the Art Committee at Peace Lutheran where exciting things are happening. We have a rotating art gallery that will be used for photographs and other spiritual artwork. We also are going to be commissioning a large work for one of the walls in our church. We are very excited about God being able to work through images to touch our members, visitors and the children of the congregation! Thank you for your excitement!
Using your skill set and passion to show your faith is something I believe all Christians strive to do. You are definitely skilled in your profession. Using your skill in the setting of Vacation Bible School is awesome. I believe that what you said about what your line of work does for people is true especially when you said that it “highlights God's beautiful creation in humanity and relationships, and places emphasis on his grace and love through friendship and family.
I believe that you could extend your work to possibly include an intro to church events. When people say that a picture is worth a thousand words, they are right, which means it can be a great outreach tool. The way you use your photography and videography to share how these kids are being affected by God’s word is fantastic, and it truly warms the heart of the people who view them. This opens a door for unchurched people, and is an awesome opportunity to share God’s word with them.
You stated that five years ago you realized that you “could be saying more to [your] client base about God's love for them and his message spoken to us through his Word.” After this discovery, how did your work change? Was it a difficult change to transition into?
Thank you for sharing your experiences and photography!
I have always wanted to use the vbs footage for outreach and intro to the next years vbs, thanks for putting it on my radar again:)
Thank you for the insightful question:
I believe it has changed my approach, I used to feel my blog was a place to highlight my clients beauty and love...which it still is...except now I see it as a platform to share my faith as well. I find it extremely personal to share a passage on a post to always keep God's purpose present in my work and the imagery. It wasn't a terribly difficult transition, however it does take some time. At times, a passage just is obvious in relating to the session, at other times I feel like it's not as natural to put a passage or I simply don't have time to be that personal. Because it can get very personal, I really try to be thoughtful about who and when I'm posting these things. I always feel like I could be posting more and doing more to share God's word on my personal website, so it's definitely a challenge, which gives me a reason to keep working towards God's plan for my life!
It was very interesting to see how many different ways you have used photography to spread the gospel! When you "realized [you] could be saying more to your client base about God" that must have been a light bulb moment for you. I love how you displayed how God influenced you in that aspect of your career. And then how you started to drop some simple quotes from the Bible that give that gospel message but do not take away from the overall theme of your pictures.
Upon concluding the reading of your article, one thing that I noticed was that you seemed to be unsure. You were concerned about whether your "work really shares God's light" to your audience. Does that uncertainty stop you from doing your work sometimes? If so, don't let it. Your work brilliantly shows the light of God upon the faces of those children in VBS as well as the faces of a wedding couple. The pure joy and love that is shown demonstrates God's love. You may not ever see a personal affect from your pictures. But anyone who views your blogs and reads that bible passage is affected by it. The Holy Spirit is at work, and God is using you as his tool.
Keep up the hard work, thank you for the contribution to the conference!
I'm so grateful for your kind words and motivating thoughts, like so many of these posts I have tears when I read this encouragement! THANK YOU!!!!
I love how you describe your work with such a passion. It is amazing to see such a strong Christian woman use her talents to glorify God.. You say that photography “highlights God's beautiful creation in humanity and relationships, and places emphasis on his grace and love through friendship and family.” Being able to see this is such a blessing and shows God’s work so beautifully.
Asking “Does my work really share God's light in a way that changes lives”, shows just how dedicated you are to sharing God, and I’m wondering if you have thought about expanding your VBS photography to other countries. It would be so amazing to see pictures of children from all over the world coming together in the same gospel message. I believe it could really benefit people to see the work that the church is doing around the world and could inspire people to join the efforts of the church. Sometimes it is easy to forget our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world, and I think your photography could help us to see how richly God has blessed his church.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful photography and amazing message!
Thank you for "getting" me and your lovely words!
I have thought about doing mission trips for a long time, I know it would be life changing and inspiring and more importantly a gift to the association and people involved. I do hope to do much of this work someday. Right now I am due with a baby in December and so I feel like I'm a good couple years out or more to doing that sort of work, but it's definitely on my radar and has always been a dream of mine!
This article is spectacular to me. Vacation Bible School is the sole reason that I am a Christian, and it just so happens that the arts and crafts section of this was always my favorite. To know that someone has taken this to the next level is awe inspiring. Being an artist is a sure fire way to reach people because there is always a subliminal message in art. It comes out in the details. And when you focus this subconscious and let it come out on top, using art, we can see how God impacts people individually, and that is a beautiful thing.
What I want to know is how do you know what will make someone emotional? This feeling is something that I have never been able to capture. When I went to VBS, there was always some art there, and some very high-end art at that. And some made me emotional and made me think, and others I thought were plain and generic.
However, all in all, you are a blessing. Thank you for everything that you do.
I know that imagery plus music is the ultimate expression in creating emotion. I don't know if it's because two of your senses are engaged at the same time but that may have something to do with it. I do know that having the right imagery and the right song combined with an overall flow that is intriguing, appropriate, and driven by joy and love will always produce emotion. Allot of the work that I create videos for are events. During an event, much planning and preparation as well as BIG moments play out and so it's easy for one to feel emotional watching their hard work or joyous moments play out on screen like a movie; It's really a testament to their personal experience during that event and helps them to again reel in on the JOY of the event:)
I love the ministry that you’re doing. The way you can capture the joy and happiness in each one of the children’s faces. The work that you do is so worthwhile and truly useful. I know that for the ones who cannot attend these events they always enjoy seeing the videos of the events happening during the week. As you said in your article “As a kid, VBS was always for me a highlight and a total joy.” I totally agree and think that for many that’s how it was and still is seeing the joy on the kids faces. It warms our hearts to know the work that is going on in those kids hearts throughout the week of fun and adventurous learning.
When you start to talk about your work and wonder “Does my work really share God's light in a way that changes lives?” I think we always wonder this through everything we do. I think that a way you see it is in the tears of the people's faces being filled with joy of all the wonderful things that those kids learned. I am wondering if there is a way that maybe you could take what you do and teach it to others so that they could have the opportunity to maybe find their calling too?
Thank you so much for your wonderful videos and pictures, it brings my emotions out every time I see videos like this. God’s Blessings on your continued work!
Thank you for encouragement and wonderful message! I would love to teach what I do, I do offer one on one classes or group classes, but it's something that I'm sure MLC would really benefit from with all of your involvement with VBS's and when you all go into the workforce to preach and teach. Thank you for thinking of this and yes, It would be wonderful to share my understanding of this medium with others, now I have to reach out and see how to make this happen!!!!
It is amazing to hear of new ways in which we as believers can spread The Light to the dark world around us. A picture often captures what the visible eye can see, but by attaching God’s Word, we see that picture through the lense of faith. You say that it “highlights God’s beautiful creation…” and what better way to show people who God is than by showing what he has done, and reading his word.
In your presentation, you talk about using a blog as your means to communicate your work with the world. You may have already done this, but may I suggest you add to other social media platforms as well, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? My sister runs a photography page with the same scheme as you do, by providing scripture with pictures, and having those pages has only boosted her viewers.
The only question that I would have is how do you deal with a customer, who does not want those labels to be put on the pictures they are photographed in? You say, “So when appropriate and time is available, I add in bible passages or little Christian insights into my blog posts.” As a business you have to cater to as many people as possible, is there a point that you won’t post a passage because of the individual(s) pictured? I know that posting on social media is a risk for both individuals and businesses, but would like to hear your take from a business perspective.
Thank you for your contribution to the conference! God bless you!
Thanks for your post!
I do use instagram and facebook, but it would be cool to purposely use them with my images and bible verses, what a great idea! Right now, it's a hodge podge of personal and business items, but as life continues and kids get a little older and I become more available to do more, that's a great idea!
To answer your question...I know my clients well and so I will place bible verses when I know someone is a Christian. If they were married in a Christian church or I know them personally and know what they believe I feel completely comfortable sharing God's word in this way! In all honesty, I probably could place a bible passage on a post of someone who is not a Christian, because many of my clients understand who I am and that I like to share my faith in this way, and many of them would find it emboldening to have this "poetic" verse written to them, as I write these passages as I'm speaking directly to them! I'm very grateful that I've never been attacked for God's words that I've used on my site. Not that it won't happen, but feel blessed that it's hasn't happened or if it has, it has been behind closed doors. I do try to not be too pushy with the bible verses either though, because I don't want it to get obnoxious to clients who are simply looking at photographs. So I think there is a fine line and I walk it cautiously, but feel its been a gift to give when appropriate!
Thank you for your kind post!
I do use instagram and facebook to highlight my work! I use them in a personal way as well, so it's a hodge podge. It would be cool to become more defined in my outreach plan with my photography and bible passages, something that I could most definitely amp up, it takes a consistent plan but I know it would be a worthwhile venture! I do think any form of media that is out there can be an asset to sharing God's grace. Our media world is so oversaturated right now so there isn't just one avenue of sharing God's word, which is overwhelming to consider but also a gift that we can Freely express and share our faith on these platforms. Personally, I think the best way to use photography and videos to share God's word, is when it's personal and emotional and comes straight from the heart. People can see through anyone trying to make a buck or read a line, but when there is self-reflection and personal experience coupled with artistic expression people will notice the raw honesty and feel connected to the story. I do think to have a successful run at sharing God's word with images and video, it needs to connect to them personally and emotionally....it's an art form of sorts.
I was impressed with the pictures that you took. I never thought that someone could witness their faith by taking pictures. That is mind blowing to me. “The way I have always viewed photography has been through the lens of God's creation. We are beautifully and wonderfully made and I consider it an honor to document humanity.” This is a great thing you are doing and I hope that it continues to go well not just for you, but for many others who see these pictures.
Near the end of your article, you say that you were concerned about whether this work shows God’s light. I would say that it does to some people, but maybe not to others. In that case, you should somehow incorporate God’s word into it. Maybe at the VBS you could have a few kids hold signs with bible passages on it. No matter what you do, it will always be good in God’s sight, so keep on doing a good job.
This article was very well done. While I was going through it, I wondered what got you into this? What got you taking pictures? You said, “ I thought I could share about the way I intertwine my faith and portrait work.” That is such a great thing. Was there someone who was a big influence on you as a child to become a photographer?
Thank you for your contribution to the conference and keep doing what you do!
Thank you for your encouragement and words of kindness!
I like the idea of holding bible passages up, that would work well!
As a kid, I would take photographs of my friends all the time, it was my favorite thing to do. Later in high school, I discovered graphic design and went to college at BLC for graphic design and photography, but fell into photography after school and it was the perfect fit for my personality. My influence would be my father who was a pastor, so my whole life revolved around church work, so naturally as an adult I feel a strong connection to being involved in church work and anything to highlight God in my work. At times I think I should be doing more, going on more missions, ect. However, it's been a blessing to be involved in the church as a lay person and bring my gifts to our church through my photography and video work. I'm also able to do allot of odds and ends for our church as the leader of an art committee and enjoy doing graphic design when I'm able for the church! I really enjoy using my artistic skills to glorify God and will continue to do so!
I especially enjoyed the VBS segments that you included with this presentation. They communicated the potential of that experience in a way that a pamphlet or poster would struggle to achieve. It was impossible not to feel inspired to service by the smiling faces of children and volunteers. I also appreciated the way your article walked us through the personal process you've followed to find opportunities for outreach through your artistic efforts.
During spring breaks and summers, Martin Luther College coordinates many teams of students that carry out VBS programs (or related outreach efforts, such as athletic camps, etc.) all over the country through the Daylight program (https://mlc-wels.edu/daylight/). Given your proximity in Mankato, I wondered if you might be interested in offering a brief workshop for interested students planning such trips, to help them consider how they might assist in documenting the experiences of the children they serve in these settings. Your videos are an exceptional memento of the fellowship and spiritual training that occurs, and shorter versions would be an outstanding promotional tool for the following year's event. In this way, your training could improve the service our students are able to provide for the participating schools and churches.
God's blessings as you continue your work. Thanks again for the examples provided to help churches and schools consider how they might chronicle and share their programs through video.
I would love to offer a workshop!!!! Sounds like a great idea!!! Let me know how to get this going, I'm on board!
Thank you for taking time to look!
Fancy seeing you posting here! Hope you've been doing well. I am very honored to have been able to be photographed by you and see your God-given talents in action (and hopefully again in the future for a wedding coming up ????). How you incorporate God's Word into your posts on your blog and share how you know the people that you photograph is such a wonderful and unique way to share the Gospel in a subtle yet effective way. We may not be able to see the Spirit's work in people's hearts, but that doesn't mean we should stop sharing our faith in every way possible.
It was so neat to be able to look back at the photos you took of Messiah's VBS - brings back so many memories! It is a wonderful thing you are doing, photographing God's creation. You are very talented!
Thank you for your contribution to the conference! Keep in touch!
Wow, such an uplifting message and kind words!!!! Thank you for your encouragement and love!
We should talk wedding!!!!! YEY!!!!!!
I loved looking at your pieces through this article. I think all your photos and videos do a great job on shedding light to others and showing the work of God. I especially like the little Bible passages or insights. I think in today's society, many individuals are looking at photos and really enjoying them more and more. The VBS portion of the article is also an aspect that I like very much. I too have been involved in VBS before, and I think taking videos or photographs is a great way to show Christian values.
I applaud your work and hope you continue to do so in the future. Gods creation in humanity and relationships really is a beautiful element of life.
This is quite encouraging and makes me so happy to hear! Thank you for taking time to look!!
I love that you are enjoying your passion as your career. While I believe seeing examples of touching lives is a wonderful goal, understanding the proof may not be evident until we see all the saints in heaven is important to keep in mind. God gives us vocations in life to use the gifts and abilities he has gifted to us, and following that vocation is fulfilling his will for you.
Many churches do not have lay members willing to give their time and energy toward causes like VBS, and I know your church home is very thankful for the work you put in to further the ministry. You are creating tools that would not be available otherwise and quite honestly cannot be slapped together. They take time and effort to piece together works of art like your photos and videos. Thank you for your efforts!
Thank you for your post and encouragement. It means allot that you realize the time involved as well, it really is an all consuming project to take on, but one that is one hundred times worth it! God bless and thanks for reading!
You're work is INCREDIBLE! I was really moved by the pictures you have taken and the way you talk about God. To me, it is amazing that someone can bring their own faith into their work environment. Without God, where would any of us be? He is the solid foundation in which we all thrive and succeed. He is the most important part of my life and it is truly moving to see someone capture this essence through photographs. It is also amazing that you dedicate a great portion toward VBS as i have seen it slowly fading away in today's generation. It is important to keep it alive and share with children the amazing works of God.
Thank you so much for your sweet post!!! I love that I can be a business owner and proclaim God through that! Yes yes and yes! God and his grace are the reason we exist!!!