Southwestern Photojournalism Conference 2013

Last year, I was working on an assignment and ran across an informal group of photographers blogging about life, photography, and Jesus. The Christians in Photojournalism website meant a lot to me when I first ran across it, and I soon stumbled upon the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference, which is kind-of-related-sort-of to CIP. My friend Jennifer and I decided that life is for the living, and decided to go... not really sure what we were getting ourselves into.

We were both a bit nervous as we pulled up (late) to a random seminary in the middle of Texas without knowing a single person (or even what exactly the conference entailed!), but we quickly became friends with other students who had done the same thing. That night, we ate dinner together, got to know each other, and received our assignments for the student practicum the next morning. Jennifer went to the Fort Smith stockyards to photograph the mounted police, and I headed to the Log Cabin Village, an interactive museum of the Texas pioneer era. Each of us headed out to find a unique angle that would attract visitors to the village. Jim Morris, Stanley Leery, and Morris Abernathy hung out with us, looking at the backs of our cameras, and suggesting ways to improve our angle and get a complete story. It was both incredibly intimidating and exciting to receive so much feedback from such talented and experienced (as well as hilarious!) photographers.

Honestly, I wasn't even aware that we were going to be photographing anything when we showed up (seriously. Why do I do so many things without knowing what I'm getting myself into!?) and I was MASSIVELY NERVOUS when I found out we'd be doing FOR REAL PHOTOJOURNALISM... because umm... it's been about 4 years since I've photographed any serious event other than a wedding.  But I am SO INCREDIBLY glad that I sucked it up and did it anyway. I learned SO MUCH from shooting, listening to incredible photographers talk, and receiving critiques from those who were kind enough to sacrifice their time to look at my portfolio.

Pioneer Era Teacher
Pioneer Era Classroom
Pioneer era classroom rules
Old One Room Schoolhouse
Dunce Cap
Log Village Cabin Fort Worth Texas

Over the course of the weekend, I had the opportunity to listen to Dave Black (who knows more about lighting than I could wrap my mind around), Justin and Ashley Veneman (wedding photographers in Tennessee who are doing really cool work with a local hospital), and Joanna Pinneo (whose work, outlook on life, and gentle spirit was super refreshing. Seriously. I was SO blessed to meet her... and even more blessed that she actually CARED about Jennifer and I enough to sit down and talk to us about our work.)... as well several other people and lots of other students and professionals presenting their work.

Although the focus of the weekend was on journalism, I learned so much that has affected the way I approach weddings. Being present. Telling a story the way YOU would tell it... not the way another photographer would. Caring about others, especially when that means just putting down the camera and just being their friend. Telling stories of joy and transformation. The importance of having a warm smile, quiet manner, and taking the time to just ...slow down. Breathe.

And most importantly, remembering that the images I capture aren't ultimately MY story or YOUR story... it's the Lord's story. While the pictures I take do capture my client's personalities and love for each other... even more than that, they capture a small bit of what the Lord is doing in two individual lives. Which is pretty incredible. [/expand]