harnessing the power of photography for good

Creativity, Vision & Technology

Photopeeps :: Intro to Photo Fun

Photopeeps:: Intro to Photo Fun!  Classes begin this Wednesday

The fun is about to begin…Our 6 week Intro to Photo Fun classes are beginning this week, in Rm 353 at the Rock.

All are welcome and classes are FREE!


~Please bring your camera and camera manual to class with you each week.

~A digital camera is preferred, but if all you have is a Polaroid camera, your more than welcome to join us.  ‘

~Each week we will be taking photos in class and you will be assigned homework assignments that you will   share in class the following class session.

~Be ready to share.  The class is meant to be fun and part of the fun is sharing photos we take and learning from each other as we share.

~Before you come this Wednesday, make sure your camera is ready to use and battery is fully charged with a memory card that is ready to use.

This Wednesday we will be talking about the Intro to Fun classes as a whole and what’s expected, and we will be talking about “the Camera.”   No camera, no photos.  No photos, no photo fun!

All are welcome, even those who don’t consider themselves as beginners.  There’s something to learn for everyone.

Any questions, please leave a comment or email us at MISSION.focused@yahoo.com

Oaxaca 2012 :: tecnologia’ desafiada

tecnologia’ desafiada = technology challenged

This was the theme for today in Oaxaca.  It shouldn’t have been so.

I was able to get some work done but my computer was acting up, more than ususal for those who know how messed up my computer is…but it works, that’s what matters.  Thankfully there have been no issues with my camera so while I couldn’t do much editing and posting most of the day, I was able to keep shooting.  This is home base…where I work when I’m not running around taking photos of the men this week.  That’s the computer in question, currently working….to the left, a Toshiba laptop donated by someone from the Rock to the Jesus Geeks, who in turn washed and waxed it and donated it to Americo and Norma, to be used at the training center thats being worked on this week and for use by the local church.  This week the men are using it to check in with family back in the states.The machine that Adventures in Life and Harvesting Hope have to drill wells with needed some work done on the drive shafts.  Some of the men who were in Oaxaca in January with Harvesting Hope took back to the States the drive shaft, to have a new one machined.  Sean brought it with him when he came to Oaxaca this week.  When Dave and Chable’ started to put the drive shaft together, it was just a hair too thick.  Thankfully, there is a metal machine shop that has a metal lathe in order to adjust the drive shaft to make it work.   The photo above is of the machinist working on the drive shaft.Dave and some of the guys from Harvesting Hope came to this same shop 2 weeks ago and they were amazed at how many old classic machines they had, and that they still worked.

One of the machines was an old Lodge & Davis Machine Tool Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.  I did a little searching online and saw an old Lodge & Davis machine, reportedly from the 1890’s, that looked newer than the machine above.I know that in the States, most metal lathe machines are computer controlled…but the machinist in Tlacolula got the job done old school style with a good caliper, a good eye and the human touch.

I started to think tonight, with my computer now cooperating… Canon recently unveiled  their new flagship EOS 1DX and Nikon just announcing the new D800 & D800E…do we need more technology and more megapixels?  I’m using and still loving my EOS 5D.  Not too long ago I was walking through church when this kid I know walked up to me and saw my camera on my shoulder.  He said something like “ohhhh, is that the 5D Mark II!?”  I said nope, I’m rolling with the original 5D.  He immediately lost interest and walked away….

Really!  I felt like smacking the kid up side the head!  Is that what it’s come down to.  Unless you have the latest and greatest camera, you don’t matter or you can’t take great photos….just so there is no question, the answer is NO!

That old Toshiba lap top will be a blessing to the local church and to Americo & Norma.  And as hard as it might be, I will strive to serve Jesus and take photos that honor Him with my viejo(old) 5D.

Praise God for old technology!

Photopeeps this Wednesday :: Join the Fun!

Homework theme: Texture

Photopeeps this Wednesday, January 25th in Rm 353 at the Rock Church.  All are welcome.

This Wednesday we will be sharing photos we took for our homework.  The homework assignment was to take photos of Texture.  Texture is the theme, how you choose to take photos that express our theme is up to you.  You can join the fun this Wednesday by doing the homework and bringing photos to share.  Sharing is caring!

Please bring three (3) photos of Texture to share with the class.

You can bring the photos on a thumb drive, cd, or memory card in order to share the photos.

Please bring your cameras to class with you.  Time permitting we will answer any questions you might have about your camera or any other topic you can think of.

We will continue to share more info about our upcoming Intro to Photo Fun class coming in February.

Any questions, you can email us a MISSION.focused@yahoo.com or you can leave a comment and we will get back to you.

new beginnings

in the span of 4 days i had the honor of helping document the wedding of lorse & lisa and the homecoming celebration of mary jimenez.  when youre at life events like this in such a close span of time, you surprisingly hear similar themes…of the beauty & promise of new life and the old being replaced with the new.

these type of life occurrences arent lost on me.  you cant help but think about life and your own mortality.  you start taking inventory of who you are and what your all about.  this of course includes photography…

celebrating the life & homecoming of mary jimenez

on our recent fieldtrip up to san juan capistrano i had some time to chill with God, have some fun taking photos and to listen to what He wanted to tell me.  i was reminded from the above photo, that we do things for God with our gifts and talents, but unless we do it with God’s master plan in mind…the advancing of His Kingdom and sharing about Jesus, it doesnt matter.

the bell tower at the mission is still standing, but much of the surrounding structure is gone…but the flowers are blooming.  it reminds me that it really doesnt matter what camera i have, what techniques i use to edit photos, or if i belong to this or that photo association.   the challenge from God continues to be, am i using the gift of photography to glorify Him, to the best of my ability.   in the end, He is gonna hold me accountable for how i used my gifts for Him…God will certainly not care if im a pc or mac, canon or nikon, or if i shot raw or jpg.  its all a tool to Glorify Him.

sometimes you have to take what God gives you, and march on…be obedient and trust!

Semper Fi!

tree of creativity

i shared the following video some time last year…i think its still funny and still thought provoking…

can you box up and market creativity?  some would have you believe that if you do as they do and say, you will be just like them…be it church methodology or photography…and the answer is NO!  you can have the latest and greatest gear out there, and a slick marketing plan w  flash-ey website…but if you cant take a good photo who cares.

i posted last year about the “tree of creativity” and how i was challenged to think more about what im taking photos of…you can read the post HERE.  kind of like the video above, if were not careful, we can get into patterns and routines as photographers…to the point of it becomes something we just “phone in.”   i will grant that there is  a certain formula to event & wedding photography, and certain shots that you need to get…like the first kiss as husband and wife!  but the trick is to find new and creative ways to get the shot your looking for.  the reality is that every event and every wedding is different.  the last thing someone wants is for their wedding photos to look like their friends wedding photos, because you had the privilege of being their photographer.

i do mean privilege.

there are lots of photographers out there.  and when you start thinking that your “the man” its over!  pack it in!

just as the “low hangin fruit” are tempting to take…it can be just as easy as a photographer to put the camera on “cruise control.”  you have your “style” and “look” that people like and thats whats getting you the business.  so why try and do things differently.   the question i ask…”is that enough?”

what matters more to me is are you having fun?  are you being challenged and stretched as a photographer?  are you merely copying someone elses “style”  or are you sincerely trying to develop your own “style?” is your way of doing things unique and creative to a point it sets you apart…

in the end as a photographer you have to be content and happy with the photos youve created.  if you are…then i dont care what anyone else says.  youve accomplished your goal of creating art, thats what photography is, that makes you happy.

recently some friends agreed to help photograph an event locally…they volunteered their time and talents for God’s glory.  they were asked to give their photos over in RAW file format so all the photos taken by all the volunteer photographers could be edited to look the same.  at first glance i didnt think to much of it.  but as i thought about what we do as photographers, it comes down to creative control and freedom to take photographs in a manner that is consistent with your own personal vision and style.

i believe that if your being paid to photograph an event or wedding, for another photographer, under the umbrella of that photographer…then yes.  your shooting for them.

but when your volunteering your time, sharing your gifts and skills as a photographer, you should be allowed to maintain a certain amount of creative control.  after all its what you see through the lens, and a vision you have that your trying to capture in the camera.  to be asked to give of your time and talents, then be asked to give up all creative control of your images…i dont think i like that…i believe that this is contrary to who we are as photographers…  part of the beauty of photography is 3 photographers can look at the same tree, and come up with 3 different photographs of that same tree.  the tree may look different in all 3 photos…but its still the same tree.

i know others have discussed this same issue of creative control over the years…and its not likely to be solved anytime soon.  but its something that needs to be talked about and i think is healthy to talk about…what do yall think?

film is for real! photopeeps goin old school…

i like canon cameras.

i dont believe canon cameras are better than nikons or pentax or insert your favorite camera here.

cameras are a tool or sometimes a weapon…and we all have a choice, to use our weapon for good or evil.

the camera gives us power…power to persuade, destroy, defame, hurt, punish, help, build-up, encourage, inspire….you can go on and on with the types of things you can do with the camera.

some of the swallows we saw on saturday…

we believe at MISSION focused, that its important to understand how to use the camera inorder to do the most good for humanity.  thats why have classes, field trips to see swallows, take photos that will bless military families, and why we choose to minister alongside pastors and missionaries in oaxaca, mexico.

we believe that part of understanding the camera and photography in general, you need to understand how to use a film camera.

thats why we are excited to begin our first film class this wednesday.  this is gonna be a journey that we will all begin together this wednesday evening, and hopefully it will be a quest that yall will continue for the rest of your photographic life.

we firmly believe that shooting film will make each of us a better photographer.

so we invite all yall to come join us this wednesday nite, 7pm in room 353, 3rd floor at the rock, as we begin to have more fun…

photography is fun

this wednesday we will be the introduction to the film class…everyone is invited with or without a camera.  with or without a film camera.  come and have fun with us

for more info feel free to contact us at mission.focused@yahoo.com

last frame…take 2

Can you handle the truth…

ive been mulling over the idea of branding in my head and in conversations with trevor this past week. Last week trevor lead a sharing session on the idea of branding in relation to getting your photography business up and running. We had some interesting discussions and it started me thinking…but that was just the beginning. On wednesday of last week i heard an interview frank luntz on the dennis prager show, frank has a new book out titled Win. The book is about taking your business from ordinary to extraordinary.

As he was sharing about his book, frank said something like if he could get rid of one word from the english language it would “branding.”

branding is defined by websters as the promoting of a product or service by identifying it was a particular brand.

Frank explained the branding is about creating an “image” of yourself that you want others to believe in, its about marketing yourself. its about how you want others to perceive who you are, who you want them to believe you are, whether its the  truth or not, it doesnt matter.

Its style over substance.

He believes that style and substance need to go together. And we should desire and covet “reputation.”

websters defines reputation as an overall quality or character, as seen or judged by people in general;  a recognition by other people of some characteristic or ability. Or a place in public esteem or regard, a good name.

reputation is based upon the truth. its about character and who we are as a person, organization, or business. You cant fake or hide who you are at the core, all the time.   The truth will come out!

Your reputation is your name. Its what will give you meaning and purpose as a person in business.  People will want to be associated with you (or not) because of your reputation.

The problem is that you can create a brand around yourself pretty quickly, but reputation takes time and patience to build…and it really must be earned.  But as we all know, your reputation isnt always good.

i saw this photo online today. In the original photo, hes holding a firefighter helmet. But a ny law firms pr/ad agency decided to use it for a company ad, switching the helmet for a photo of the world trade center. The problem is that the model in the photo is a real fdny firefighter, who didnt join until 2004, upon seeing the ad it made him feel like a “scumbag”…needless to say, the ad was pulled. You can see the article online HERE

after seeing this article and the photo, i thought, how easy it was to switch out the helmet… think integrity.

branding isnt necessarily bad, it just that if done without integrity or character, its fake…like the picture.  This all fits into the ongoing discussion of the last frame.

As followers of Christ, are we using the gift of photography to the fullest of our abilities? Am i helping fulfill the great commission? Are the photos that i take being used for good or evil?

I think, and this is just my opinion, that in the same manner that God is gonna hold me accountable for my actions & the words i speak….he is gonna hold me accountable for the photos that i take.  The good, the bad, the meaningless…along with the AWE inspiring, God honoring photos that i take.

i think run-dmc said it best… “calvin kleins no friend of mine, dont want nobodies name on my behind.”

i dont want to be a brand!  i rep Jesus!!

2010 Pulitzer Prize for Photography

to win the pulitzer prize for photography is pretty huge.  its an honor to be recognized for your work and it probably cant hurt to win the $10,000 prize either…

this years winner for “breaking news photography” was mary chind, for the des moines register

River rescue in downtown Des Moines: A woman is pulled from near the Center Street dam by construction worker Jason Oglesbee on Tuesday. A man who was with the unidentified woman died in the Des Moines River. A rescue team from the Des Moines Fire Department tried several times to rescue the woman but could not get close enough to her.
Published July 1, 2009

Copyright:  2009, The Des Moines Register


the pulitzer winner for “feature photography” was craig f walker, for the denver post

Awarded to Craig F. Walker of The Denver Post for his intimate portrait of a teenager who joins the Army at the height of insurgent violence in Iraq, poignantly searching for meaning and manhood.

you can see the whole feature HERE

free photo class: darth vader would shoot in the dark

we talked about shooting with your eyes closed last week.  which was all about understanding your camera and knowing your camera well enough that you could change functions and settings with your eyes closed.  well maybe…but at least you could change settings without taking your eye away from the viewfinder.  its not something you learn from the force, although darth might disagree with us…but with practice, it will ensure that you dont miss The Shot because your fiddling with your camera.

shooting darkness in the dark

sometimes, even when your eyes are open, you might find yourself in the dark…or in the case of the pic above, shooting darkness in the dark.

come to our class this wednesday nite as we talk about shooting in the dark, with or without your eyes open.  bring your camera as we will be practicing some tricks we will be teaching you.  card tricks, slight of hand, sawing a camera in 2…fun tricks.

all are welcome, with or without a camera.  june 9th, 7pm at the rock.  3rd floor in the jrhi room.  all are welcome, even those on the dark side. ( please leave lightsaber at home)

is it real or is it memorex

memorex had this ad from back in the day…their tag line was that music on there media was so good, you have to ask yourself  “is it real or is it memorex.” if  you remeber this, your old!

a friend told me about this youtube video. it was created by north point community church in georgia, as a parody for a conference they were doing…when they posted it, they offered no explanation and it provoked lots of comments.  to read more about the video you can go here. its funny and will make you laugh and think…

FREE photo class this wed: LIGHT…color vs black & white

wed nite we will continue our discussion on LIGHT…as it relates to the images we take and why you would choose to shoot in black & white vs color in camera.

which image do you like better?   i took these for my oldest niece miranda, for her senior pics…each has a different feel and the one you like better is up to you…thats the beauty of photography.

come wed nite as we discuss the merits of shooting black & white in camera vs shooting color and changing it to b&w later….all are welcome.

we will be meeting at the rock, in the jrhi room, 3rd floor.  7pm-9pm.

if you have a camera, please bring it as we will be doing some hands on exercises in class.

WWJS? (What Would Jesus Shoot?)

I really liked it when Brother Joe first asked this question of the team via email a couple of weeks ago.  It was even better when we all got together and discussed it.  I have two versions of  “What Would Jesus Shoot?” and I guess I looked at both of them very literally…

  • The first and most obvious to me was that Jesus wouldn’t shoot pictures of anything.  I did several searches to verify that Jesus was never an observer.  Jesus always took action.  After all the original question that this was spun from was “What Would Jesus Do?”.
    • If he was just watching the world then He would have never died for our sins.  John 2:2 – “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
    • He would have never showed us how to serve.  Mathew 20:28  – “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
    • How to be humble. Philippians 2:3 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
    • How to pray. Mark 1:35 – “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
    • How to glorify God.  1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
  • The second version is that Jesus would not have shot anything while on this world but He would while in Heaven.  Think of the Bema Seat Judgement.  The first judgment will be for our salvation.   The second or Bema Seat Judgment will be a look at how we lived in this world.  Jesus will flash our life before us and will show us where we wasted our time and where we lived for Him.  This replay of our lives will have way more impact on us than any photo or video could hope to achieve.  No special effects or Photoshop required.  Just you and Him together experiencing your life and how you handled it just like you were doing it all over again.  Then He will wipe away your tears and reward you with everlasting life.  That life will then be used to honor Him.  Every time I read about the Bema Seat it makes me reflect on what I can do for Him and have I done what He has asked of me.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Well that is my take on “What Would Jesus Shoot?”.  I pray everyday that He will give me the strength to do what He asks of me.  I do this so that I can see the replay of my life in a way that could never be captured on film or digitally.  The best part after the replay will be Jesus saying “Well done, good and faithful servant!” – Matthew 25:21


Jim Wanglund

Rock Photographer

WWJS? {what would Jesus shoot}

charles sheldon wrote In His Steps in 1890. his book was subtitled, “what would Jesus do?”

back when i was a kid, in the late 20th century, the 90s to be precise, it became a popular slogan for folks who called themselves “christians.”

talking with friends and fellow shooters, i began asking myself, “what would Jesus shoot?”

its not a question of film vs digital, what format or what system would he use…but more of a philosophical and creative choice.  as we started shooting military families on monday nites, in partnership with the military ministry at the rock…it has become clear to me that using the gifts -the time, talent and treasures that God has given me, for Gods kingdom and His Glory is where its at.

for me that means using photography to bless others.  to show the world that God is alive and well and He still works in the lives of those who seek Him and desire to live their lives for His Glory.

i asked the family of photographers i am blessed to be part of this same question.  and it was great to hear what God had revealed to each of us.  ive asked them to share their thoughts here…and hopefully it will bless and help yall understand why we shoot for Jesus!

(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