Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How are you using the gifts you've been given?

I love taking pictures.
I honestly can't think of any better combination than a beautiful 80° day, a light breeze, and my camera. Especially this time of the year. Flowers are in bloom, the butterflies dance along your paths, everything seems so fresh.

Ever since June of 2007 I really have taken a liking to photography. When my son was born in June of 2007 I couldn't quit thinking about all the cute ways I could photograph him. I started with a Sony Cybershot 3.2 mega pixels camera....and my pictures still looked good! I determined that real skill in the photography realm isn't totally dependent on the equipment alone.

From there I got an Olympus Point and Shoot camera that could be frozen, thrown in water, dropped, and still work. It was Olympus’ latest in practically indestructible cameras. I enjoyed the jump – I went from 3.2 to 10 megapixels and found that I had so much more room to play with pictures in the photo editing sense without taking too much away from the picture itself, quality wise.

Today I am shooting with an Olympus DSLR and love it!

I have thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures of my little man, and most of the other ones have been family members or nature. I love taking pictures of flowers along a nature trail…or birds or turtles, or butterflies, or whatever else we might happen upon along life’s path.

The more pictures I took, the more I wanted to take…our weekends became time for exploring state parks that were close to us so that I could take lots of pictures! I never seem to tire when it comes to taking pictures. Just the other night I had my camera out at 11:15 at night taking a picture of a lady bug that had managed to get inside our home….There are days that I wish I could just spend the whole day taking pictures.

My love of taking pictures, and seeing how people reacted to the pictures that I took…I got to thinking that maybe it would be a way to make some extra money…so I began taking steps to ‘get my name out there’ so to speak. I did some photo finishing work in creating a calendar for a local high school in exchange for my add being placed in the calendar. I took pictures of little ones free of charge. I took pictures at a birthday party and provided a print to everybody who attended with my watermark on it. In the midst of doing this, time flew by, like it always seems to do.

Before I knew it December 2009 was quickly approaching.

I learned of a movement by photographers all around the world known as Help Portrait. It was the idea that you use your time, expertise and equipment to give back to somebody less fortunate. For me the family that I did this for had recently lost their husband/father to cancer. Left behind were his wife and son and daughter. They were relocating here because there was family here. A lot of their belongings were left behind because they couldn’t afford to send them all here. They were starting out with the bare minimum but doing what they needed to get from one day to the next. The mother wanted to have a family picture done for the holidays but knew that there was no way she could afford it. The target had been located! I took pictures of them, and she brought along a picture of her husband, hoping that in some way I could incorporate a picture of him into the picture. The task before me was huge. I had never done anything like this. Yet my one wish for Christmas was to find a way to give it away. I had heard the song by Matthew West, “Give this Christmas away” and was just waiting for my opportunity to do just that. This is what the picture looked like upon completion…actually this is a compilation of all the pictures that I came up with…but you can see where I took his picture and the picture of the three of them and combined them.

Needless to say the woman and her children were moved to tears. They loved the way that it looked like he was just part of the picture. I was satisfied with the finished product, very rarely am I ever ‘happy’ with the finished product – I look at it and see so much room for improvement and things I should have/could have done differently. I did feel a since of accomplishment. It was the first time taking pictures for somebody else that it made me feel so good about doing it. I mean this feeling went straight to my heart…it was amazing how good it felt to use the gift that God has given me to make somebody else happy, to give them hope, and to give Christmas away.
Time goes on, life goes on, I get back in school. I continue to take pictures but quit doing so much to ‘get my name out there’…Then Relay For Life comes along…and again I am in the unique position of having three good pictures of a woman who my mom knew personally is currently fighting cancer. She and her family came out to Relay and thoroughly enjoyed the event. I was the only one that my mom knew of that had pictures of she and her family walking together. I took the pictures that I had managed to get and made a collage for her. She too, was very pleased with the finished result. And again, it felt like my heart and spirit were being lifted. Yet again, by doing something good for somebody else I felt like I was benefiting more from it than they were. I was so motivated and felt so good about the finished product.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks…it is amazing how when His message gets to you, when you hear His message – the impact that it can have on you is astounding. The question that remained in my head upon completing Relay for Life was this one – What are you doing to further God’s kingdom? I couldn’t understand why that question would be placed in my head upon completing the picture. And finally it got through my thick skull – my photography abilities are not meant to provide any monetary gains at this time in my life. The purpose of my photography is to honor God…I dug out the first watermark that I made – it had a VP in the middle of it and around the outside, in the form of a heart it read, “Honoring God, one click at a time. Van Deusen Photography.” My photography is only meant to benefit me when it is in the form of hope for somebody else.

The purpose of my photography is to provide hope. It just so happens that each time I have provided hope and felt so great about what I did – it was for people involved in church and Christians. I am thinking that somehow I am to use the gift that God has given me to honor and provide hope for others who are less fortunate than I am…be it family situation, or health situation. I think I am to use my photography to further God’s Kingdom by providing hope for those who are struggling….at least this is the message I feel that I have received thus far!