harnessing the power of photography for good

Travel

Adios Oaxaca!

This was our set up in 2010 when Terry Schwartz and brotherjoe first came down to Oaxaca for Summer Camp.  We brought 2 compact HP Printers to print 4×6 portraits of the kids at camp.  Since then we have been down to Oaxaca for Summer Camp 3 of the last 4 years and we have learned a lot about how much gear we need to bring.  We definitely used to bring too much back then.

This year, with 2 Summer Camps back to back, it’s been a busy week and half.  We now leave one of the printers in Oaxaca, so we don’t have to bring it down with us anymore.

The kids are just as cute as they were in 2010!  And the blessings are just as huge.  Amazingly, there are still kids who have never had their photo taken! That’s why we come to Oaxaca.

Tonight brotherjoe heads off to new territory for Mission Focused….Guadalajara!

We have never photographed on mission there, so it’s gonna be exciting!!

Adios Oaxaca!  Cya soon.

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Trust :: Lessons Learned On The Way To L.A. & Oaxaca

Wednesday was a full day. Getting all my gear in order and trying to realx before traveling off to Oaxaca. Went to class. We all got blessed by hearing Cyndy share a little bit about how she became a follower of Christ and what God was doing in her life. How she is excited that she can now use her love for photography and her love for short term missions as the same time, to serve Christ with her gifts.

After sharing some of our photos in class…it was time to head south, so I thought.

Cyndy and Danie took me to the Greyhound station so I could catch the shuttle to the Tijuana airport. When we got to the Broadway location somebody moved the station and didn’t tell me. I should have known this wasn’t gonna be an “easy” trip to Oaxaca.

When we got to the new Greyhound location, 1313 National Ave in the East Village area, Cyndy and Danie got all geeked up and had to go and take photos of the address, since the class homework for this week was to take photos of “13.”

I said my “good-byes” and went to get my ticket to the Tijuana airport. Time comes and I get on the wrong bus, the bus to L.A. After sitting on the bus for a few minutes, something just didn’t feel right. So I ask and they tell me I’m on the bus to L.A. I get off, go to the bathroom, and when I get out…my bus to the Tijuana airport is leaving without me! Ugh. The next shuttle didn’t leave till 1130pm, which would have gotten me in to the airport at 1215am, cutting it close.

Me sitting on the wrong bus…not realizing this fact yet!

That’s when I meet Johnny and Raul. They both work for Greyhound and had just gotten off work. They live in Tijuana and asked if I wanted a ride to the border to catch my bus. I paused to think for what seemed like an hour…praying and working out worst case scenarios in my head. What if they kill me, kidnap me or kick me out the car with all my stuff in Tijuana…I said “sure.”

We jump in the car, start flying down the freeway and along the way we pass the bus. I ask if they are gonna drop me off at the bus terminal in San Ysidro, they said they would drop me off on the other side of the border where the busses cross. At this point I have no choice but to go along for the ride.

The whole drive south I’m praying and looking start to share that I’m a child of the Most High King, on a mission from God to go to Oaxaca. Which opened me up to the question of what will I be doing in Oaxaca? Again, I start to think…do I tell them I’m a photographer and open myself up to be a target?

Why am I thinking these things? Johnny and Raul seem like nice guys, despite the fact that Johnny has an Oakland Raiders helmet hanging from his mirror! That’s when I just had to laugh and go along for the ride!

Trust.

I believe God provided a way for me to go to Oaxaca so I could photograph the work He is doing through Adventure in Life in Mexico. I belive the enemy is at work trying to discourage, distract, and destroy the plans of God as followers of Christ step out in faith to minister for His sake.

Needless to say I was able to catch my bus and make my way to the Tijuana airport. I wish that was the end of this stories adventures…nope!

After getting to the airport and getting my visa, I go through the first of many checkpoints in the airport. They stop me because I have 3 laptop computers with me. “Why do you have the laptops?”

Dan and Jack, part of the Jesus Geeks Team, working at the Chick-Fil-A office in Mira Mesa

I explain that they were donated, thanks to Jack Costner and the Jesus Geeks, for missionaries in Oaxaca. I’m told you are allowed to bring 1 computer with you, and if I want to bring the extra computers I have to pay taxes, even if they are being donated. They didn’t care who was gonna get them. So I paid the taxes.

Almost on the plane…I’m sitting at the gate waiting for the plane to board, when the Volaris agents started walking around checking carry-on bags and asking folks to check them at the gate. Of course that is not gonna happen! It doesn’t matter that my carry-on roller and backpack weigh twice as much as my checked bag. The gal says something to me in Spanish, I don’t know a lot of Spanish but I gathered that she wanted me to go and check my bag. Nope. So for the next 20 minutes as they’re walking around taking bags I’m trying to lay low and hide my roller.  I wish I had it on video, kinda funny.  Thankfully I made it on the plane with both my bags.

My trusty Think Tank Airport International roller

On a side note, if your a photographer…Think Tank Photo have the best gear for your gear! I’m “rolling” with the Airport International ver. 1 and Shapeshifter backpack.

Now it’s 10pm in Oaxaca and I’m ready! Praise God!


SELAH: Israel Trip May 2012

We are excited to announce our first trip to the Holy Land…

MISSION focused is going to Israel with K House in May 2012

If you’ve never been to Israel and have always wanted to go…this is the time.  Like many of you, i have friends who have been to Israel…and the stories you hear make you want to go and experience the Land for yourself!

Unlike many of the trips to Israel…this is gonna be a sloooow trip!

SELAH: “Pause and listen.”

This tour is a time to do just that and is geared towards those who want in-depth Bible teaching and also a photographer’s dream…time to NOT rush through the Land but rather to ponder through the Land, either through personal time of reflection or through the lens of your camera…or both!

We are going with Pastor Dan Stolebarger & K House, who will be leading and teaching us about the Land.  This is a dream tour for photographers and those who want to visit Israel at a more contemplative pace.

space is limited…if you’re interested please email us…

MISSION.focused@yahoo.com

Tour Brochure

Registration Form

Terms & Conditions/Waiver


have camera, will travel…

while im still recovering from the cayman trip, i am anxious to get out there to shoot more.  looking forward to mexico in july with adventures in life.  more on that later.  one of the blogs i check out from time to time is scott kelbys photoshop insider blog, you can visit it HERE.

he linked a great article from the folks at national geographic on travel and photography…well worth sharing.  there are some really great, basic insights, that i wish i had known prior to going to the cayman islands and jamaica…but better late than never i suppose.  you can check out the article Right Here.

yes, this is  your camera staring at you saying “lets go shoot…”


(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



low hung fruit

free photo class tonite, april 28th, 7pm in jrhi room at the rock, 3rd floor.

all are welcome, with or without a camera. this is a time to share about our shared passion for photography, and hopefully encourage yall to get out and start taking more pics of this beautiful world God has created.

its good to slow down, enjoy some nice coffee and a coronet w nutella.  and think about stuff

the kind of stuff ive been thinking about recently and have pondered several times in the past is that “mediocrity sucks!”

this loquat tree by home is full of fruit, and if you look closely, all the low hung fruit are just about all gone.  david talks about location-travel photography, like in the caymans, in exotic locations is fun and easy to get beautiful colorful pics.  he calls that the “low hung fruit” on the tree of creativity.

for some photographers, thats enough.

but often, the “best” fruit is the stuff thats hard to reach, that takes effort and skill to get to, and sometimes an element of danger and uncertainty. come tonite and lets have fun talking about photography.


whats up w Miles Ahead…

as miles ahead prepares for the do something world event in the cayman islands, the event in the philippines is just around the corner…i was reminded of this fact in oaxaca, mexico.  the hotel i stayed at the first day i got there was flying the philippine flag out front. yes. the philippine flag deep in the heart of mexico.

the do something world event in manila, the capital of the philippines, is tentatively scheduled for feb of 2011.  thats less than a year away!!  if you cant make it to the cayman islands in may…maybe you can come to the philippines and be blessed there.  its not to early to be thinking, planning and praying about serving Jesus in the philippine islands…

for more info about miles ahead, the cayman islands or philippine islands events, please go HERE