Monday, July 21, 2008

STOP ... and take it all in

One of the things I've learned about life from carrying a camera around at all times is that sometimes, despite schedules or comfort or plans or whatever, you just have to stop what you're doing to appreciate the beautiful things around you. So, on the drive home from teaching institute last week, I had to pull the car over to the side of I-283, get the camera out and take this picture.

Normally, if I'm trying to take an "artsy" picture a great deal of care is taken to eliminate distractions from the subject of the composition. There was no opportunity for that here. There were no other available angles, the sun was sinking fast and if the moment was to be recorded it was now or never and this is where I was. Retrospectively I discovered that what I like about the picture is the very fact that there are telephone poles and wires, florescent signs, guardrails, tail lights, etc. and amidst all that noise, all the man-made stuff, you can find beauty if you want to. It's right there in front of you if you'll just look. That's pretty much how life is at all times - full of good and beauty and blessings if you're willing to look and not be distracted by the less important things.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wheat and Tares

This week, a friend - Becky Bruckner - asked me to take a picture that portrayed the parable of the Wheat and the Tares from the New Testament. I immediately thought, "too bad, because the harvest was all in last week." She's a woman of faith though, so I went out to see if there was any wheat left standing. Not a mile from the house I came across the edge of a wheat field that had all been cut except the edges. I took this picture to portray that parable and at the same time felt grateful to have been asked and thankful to a farmer that left the edges.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Senior Pictures

I love taking portraits. Saturday evening was no exception. I had met Kelly at another shoot, she was fun and a little sassy, not afraid of the camera and her mother decided to cancel her appointment with the local studio and me do her senior pictures instead.
I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make money at it because I tell everyone it will be a half-hour shoot and then linger for two hours and take 500 exposures.
In any case, Kelly was, as expected, great fun, very beautiful and grateful. Her mother insisted on giving me a down payment on the job.
The Haldeman mansion is such a great place to do photo shoots of any sort. It was a great blessing that Carol Arndt took me there in the first place and that Tina is always amenable to getting me inside the mansion and is even working on getting me my own key.

God's Marvelous & Mysterious Paths

If you're ever wondering if God will use you to accomplish his purposes, know this, He will! Allow this small example. Emily left Thursday evening for Utah to attend the Young Ambassadors' workshop so Jeanne and I decided to travel on to Washington, DC, spend the evening and go to the temple in the morning. Planning is good. Putting yourself in a position to serve is good. Knowing what God has in mind is another thing entirely. I'm beginning to believe there's no need to know what he has in mind only a need to be willing to do what he wants. We stayed in a wonderful hotel, the Crown Plaza, in Silver Spring (about a mile from the temple). We dined at a marvelous Mexican restaurant a block and a half from the hotel. We walked to the downtown area, listened to live music, shopped a little, then walked back to the hotel. Life is good. In the morning we slept in a little, read scriptures, got ready to go, said prayers. Maybe I was a bit more earnest in my prayer (preparing to go to the temple and all). And, if going to the temple means uttering more earnest prayers, well, that's reason enough to go often. Most of the prayer was "standard" but just with a bit more feeling. I did mention, "Father, let us be instruments in thy hands," and after the amen we were off to the temple.
We enjoyed a lovely session as the witness couple with two other patrons (the smallest session I've ever attended). Before entering the temple I thought perhaps we should stay the day and do as much as possible. Before leaving home I had found an envelope with temple ready names in it that a member of the ward had given me as bishop and asked me to complete the work - that was 6 years ago and the work was not yet completed. That was motive enough to want to stay for multiple sessions. At some point in the celestial room I got the distinct impression of wanting to leave. A wierd thought since moments before I was so gung ho on working the entire day. Anyway, I told Jeanne and we departed. In the dressing room I met a man who lived in California and we talked for perhaps five minutes. Jeanne was waiting so we proceeded downstairs. I was to pick up the family file card from the file cabinet in the hallway but it was not there. Jeanne went outside as I searched for the card. After searching several minutes and not finding I hustled out of the temple knowing Jeanne was waiting. While hurrying through the lobby a small voice said, "you should ask that couple if they would like you to take their pictures." (Please note all the logistical issues that brought me to that very spot at that very moment.) Meeting up with Jeanne I said, "I feel like that couple needs me to take their pictures," to which she responded, "you mean the one with the homemade dress." Had I noticed that, it might have made more sense from the get go. Most couples have a photographer, but then most couples can afford a bridal gown of some sort. I approached the couple and asked if they'd like me to take their pictures and the groom's mother blurted out, "Yessssssss."
As it turned out, the entire party consisted of the bride, groom, bride's parents, groom's mother and aunt. It was definitely a budget affair. The couple was beautiful and very fun (even with a complete stranger for a photographer).
She was from Quebec and he from Utah. He had served his mission in Quebec and they had become aware of each other then and met later at school. Her parents only spoke French and were celebrating their 25th anniversary that very day at the place where they had been sealed those many years before. It was quite a special day.
From a practical standpoint I thought it would be good practice for the two weddings I'm going to shoot at the DC temple in August. The grounds are under construction all the way around the temple and the sun was very harsh so it was a challenge getting some good shots.
But everybody was very willing and Jeanne was a great artistic director.
All in all we came up with some good shots and although we haven't heard from them yet, I'm confident they will be happy and were blessed to have the pictures.
But here's the real point. God will use you in the most wonderful and meaningful ways. He'll even use seemingly meaningless and obscure talents like photography to bless other's lives if you are willing to listen and follow. It was a great blessing in my life to have this happen on this day after having uttered the words in a meaningful prayer, "allow us to be instruments in thy hands." I witness that He will use you as His instrument if you let him. Today in church one of the speakers told the story of a statue of Christ in France that had been damaged during the war and had no hands. Instead of repairing it, the town made a plaque that said, "Christ has no hands of his own only your hands to do his bidding." Let us be His hands.