harnessing the power of photography for good

(take 2) low hung fruit….on the tree of creativity

the mythical tree of creativity, in my neighbors front yard.  i wish i would have known that sooner.   many moons ago, i had this sticker that said “mediocrity sucks.”  it was an ad campaign for the distributor of italian cycling gear, back in early 90’s, i dont remember now who it was.  i guess the ad campaign didnt work too well after all.  i do recall the idea was dont use inferior(mediocre) gear, use theirs.  “mediocrity sucks” has been something ive held on to ever since, with obvious implications to our life with God.   i do think that as followers of Christ, we (i) often settle for mediocrity, saying “its good enough.”

david du chemin says that in the life of a photographer, we often settle for good enough, the so-called low hung fruit on the tree of creativity. he is speaking specifically about shooting in exotic and picturesque locations.  in these locations, its hard to not take beautiful pictures. thats easy!  taking powerful, compelling images of the mundane or the “ugly” parts of jamaica, where toursits dont go…that takes hard work, sweat, and patience.

the GOOD is the enemy of the BEST!

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,   so that you may approve what is excellent

Philippians 1: 9-10

in the greek, paul is saying the “knowledge and all discernment” is an understanding of what is good vs what is excellent.  he assumes we know the right thing to do (choosing between right and wrong), God wants us to understand that the choices we make are often decisions between what is good and what is best.  God wants us to choose the BEST!  this is what paul is praying.  that we would see what is good and excellent, and that we would choose the excellent, the best.

a pastor friend of mine shared with me and a group of brothers who met with him weekly, a perfect example from his life of what paul is encouraging us to do.  he had just finished eating dinner with the family and was looking forward to spending some time with God reading the Word.  as he sat in his easy chair he began reading…his kids finished clearing the table, and his wife began washing the dishes from dinner.  at that moment, God told him to put the Word down, and go help your wife do the dishes.  he was speaking honestly with us that evening, and he struggled with this request for a bit.  his mindset was,  what better thing is there than chilling and reading God’s Word?  nothing!  but God said, right then and there, the best place for him was next to his wife, helping with the dishes….setting an example for his son and daughter, living out what he had been teaching them.  after finishing the dishes and thanking his wife again for the delicious meal she had cooked, he went back to the Word.

at that moment, a choice between helping his wife and reading the Word, one was clearly better than the other.  he chose the best.

photographers and christians often take the easy route, we grab the low hung fruit cause its convenient and within reach.  but like the tree with the fruit way up high, where its hard to reach and takes an extra amount of effort to get to.  the rewards are much bigger, the fruit is tastier and sweeter.

in preparation for the caymans, the task is to not duplicate the photography we did in jamaica.  but to look for what God has for us NOW!

as people who love Jesus, we stretch ourselves as photographers, reaching for the high hung fruit on the tree of creativity…because of this, we will inevitably fall at times.  but the rewards and blessings involved with stepping out in faith, to reach higher and further than we have dared to in the past is far greater than merely settling for just good enough.

i had the pleasure of spending some time today with kimberly, a senior at the rock academy, for their “shadow” work day.  she is interested in journalism and photography, so she got stuck with hanging out with me after not hearing back from national geographic and getty images.  i said a bunch of silly stuff, pretending to know something about photography, i think i fooled her.  but i did get to share something that i feel was worth sharing…at catalyst last week, andy stanley closed this years gathering with a quote from howard hendricks (a professor at dallas theological seminary).

if there is anything that has kept me on track all these (50+) years of ministry…its sticking to this principle:     many things will detract us from our goals, but the secret to concentration is elimination

i was reminded of this quote after reading nicoles blog from wilderness.  as we allow God to work in our lives, His process of sanctification (making us more like Jesus) isnt always easy or fun. but as we eliminate the mediocre, the distractions, and focus on the best… it will only make us stronger and more focused on the race thats before us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2


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