harnessing the power of photography for good

Posts tagged “philosophy

Support Trevor!

trevor rawSupport local art and artists by attending RAW at the House of Blues San Diego.  Our own Trevor Stolebarger is going to be showing off some of his photographs.  Purchase tickets via http://www.rawartists.org/firstkiss to help support Trevor.


Choose Wisely :: Using Photography to Bless and Encourage

DSC_3499Our goal is to use photography to bless others, serve our fellow man, and bring glory to God in all we do.  Last weekend we had the honor of photographing Military Families in San Diego.  Many of the families hadn’t had formal portraits of their family in some time, due to the demands of Military life…

Dunhill has created a series of videos, Dunhill “Voices,” highlighting people who exemplify  “elegance and achievement.”

This video of photographer Don McCullin is quite extraordinary.  He is known in the photography world as a “war time photographer,” a term he hates.  His words are haunting and compelling.  A reminder of why we choose to photograph the good, the beautiful…things that encourage and bless.  You don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate this little video.  There a lessons to be learned on many different levels.  Thanks to David Sims for creating this beautiful video.


Cooking & the Gospel

Adventures in Life Ministry is dedicated to spreading the hope that can only be found in Jesus.  Dave Miller, Executive Director of Adventures in Life, will also tell you that it’s not enough to preach Jesus.  In Mexico, the mortality rate for children under 5 is twice that of the United States, mostly due to malnutrition and hunger.  Children can’t hear the Good News of Jesus when the “grumbling” and hunger pains are all they can think about.  And when they do have an opportunity to hear about Jesus, and come to saving knowledge of Him…the question still remains, where will their next meal be coming from?Photographing on mission with Adventures in Life in Oaxaca I have seen their work as they try and deal with these issues.  At Summer Camp, the kids get 3 full meals a day, packed with tons of protein.  Many of the kids who come to camp might have some sort of meat protein once a week, if that. They can have as much as they want!

This Summer they began an exciting new “culinary arts” program.  Partnering with recent Le Cordon Bleu graduate Yesenia Martinez who lead the classes in our camp kitchen, she taught the first group of students in a sort of cooking boot-camp, giving them information to help them understand what a career in cooking might look like.  On their final full day of camp the young students were brought to Oaxaca City to meet Chef Rodolfo Castellanos, Owner/Chef of Origen Restaurant.  With the help of Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza Restaurant in L.A. the kids got to visit, get to know and cook with Chef Rodolfo in his kitchen.  It was a great morning and the Chef was more than gracious about sharing his story and how he worked hard in kitchens all over the world before making it back to Oaxaca to open his own restaurant.  He encouraged them to dream and work hard, regardless of if they wanted to be a Chef or not.

It was a exciting to see the kids look around at his restaurant and listen to someone who is from Ocotlan, Oaxaca and think that with a lot of hard work and perseverance they might be able to be a Chef as well.

These are issues most short term missions never address.  I think many of these missions trips are so focused on spreading the Good News to as many folks as possible, they never think about the physical needs of those they are trying to minister to.  It’s safe to say Adventures in Life is trying to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those they are ministering to.

Thanks again to Chef Rodolfo for being such a gracious host.  Thanks to Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza Restaurant and thank you to Chef Yesenia Martinez for your willingness to come to Oaxaca and share your passion for food with the students.


Adventures in Life, Oaxaca & Photography

2010 AIL Summer Camp at Pastor Chable’s farm (Zimatlan, Oaxaca Mexico)

3 years ago I made my first trip to Oaxaca with Dave Miller and Adventures in Life.  I have known Dave for quite some time and I have many friends who have been very involved with AIL over the years.   I almost made it Ensenada 15 years ago, give or take a few years,  with AIL but it didn’t happen.

Terry in action at 2010 AIL Summer Camp

Understanding that God’s timing is perfect,  I finally made it in February of 2010.  It was on that trip that I began talking with Dave about bringing more photographers to Oaxaca in order to photograph the work that AIL was doing and to take portraits of kids and families in Oaxaca.

If you have ever been on a mission trip, one thing you will notice is that everyone serving seems to have a camera.  What you see is someone taking a photo, usually of kids, and then they show the image on the screen of the camera and that’s it.  The folks you are serving never see the photos ever again.  Our goal as a ministry is to fix this problem.  The Summer of 2010, Terry Schwartz came to Oaxaca with me to photograph AIL Summer Camp at Pastor Chable’s farm.  We brought with us 2 HP printers so each student that came to camp could take home a photo of the whole camp and a picture of themselves.  The photo above is of our “command center” that week.

Cyndy has been to Oaxaca several times, like Terry, to take portraits and to photograph the work of AIL in Oaxaca.

Some of the students looking at their photos from this summers camp in Oaxaca.

One of the biggest blessings for us is knowing that we were the first photographers to take some of these students portraits!  It’s something that I can never forget or take for granted.  We live in a world here in the U.S. where everyone has a camera, whether its a traditional camera or a phone with one.  And to think that someone has never had their photo taken?  

I took this gal’s photo in 2010.  She is from San Pedro Amatlan, a small town several hours in the mountains above the city of Oaxaca.  Cyndy and I visited this town with AIL’s Medical Team in March, where we had the chance to photograph families while we were there.

I recognized her from camp and I asked her if she was coming to camp in July.  She was not able to make it.  I also asked her if she still had the photo we took of her in 2010.  She smiled and said “yes.”  We took the photo above of her with some of her family…we left this and other photos we took before we headed down the mountain that evening.

These are some of the portraits we have had the privilege of taking over the past 3 years in Ensenada and Oaxaca… 

This Summer was a blessing for us as a ministry.  Since we started taking portraits of students at camp in 2010, we have been able to take portraits several different times on numerous trips to Oaxaca with Adventures in Life, in a half dozen locations around Oaxaca and in Ensenada with Dios es Amor Church this summer!  Praise God!

2012 AIL Summer Camp

It is our desire to help ministries like Adventures in Life by documenting in photographs the work they are doing, and help AIL and the local church in areas like  Oaxaca and Ensenada extend their reach into the community through photography.

MISSION focused is now a non profit  501 (c) 3, registered with the State of California and the IRS.  If you would like to support the work that we are doing in Oaxaca and in San Diego, it would be a blessing to us.  At this point in time we are not set up for credit card donations, so for now you can send a check payable to “MISSION focused” to the following address:  MISSION focused ~ 8030 La Mesa Blvd  #326  La Mesa CA, 91942

If you are a photographer, and have a desire to use your gifts for God’s Glory and to serve others, we would love to talk with you about future trips we are planning….

All Glory to God!


Portrait Time at Dios Es Amor Summer Camp 2012

MISSION focused teamed up with Adventures in Life 3 years ago this Summer,  we took photos of AIL Summer Camp.  That’s where we first began taking portraits of the kids at camp and printing onsite so they could take the photo home with them.

Too often on missions trips the folks who are serving, take tons of photos but they rarely leave any.  Most of the time, after taking the photo, they show the photo on the small screen of the camera and that’s it!  I have been guilty of this myself.

It is our desire to use the gift of photography to bless others and bring honor and glory to Jesus.  One way we can do this is by taking the portraits of the kids and printing them for them.

Adventures in Life Summer Camp 2010

The kids receiving their photos

Terry Schwartz was down in Ensenada earlier this month taking portraits of the kids who came to the Dios Es Amor Summer Camp.  These are just a few of the kid portraits he took.  I am sure Terry was blessed just as much, if not more,  as the kids were.

If you want to join us on one of these missions trips as a photographer, let us know.  We love to share the blessings.

You can see all the portraits that Terry took at our Smugmug site HERE.


Oaxaca Summer 2012 :: Locked and Loaded!

Victory Loves Preparation!

Bags are packed…ready as I will ever be.  I’m heading off to Oaxaca tonight for 2 weeks of shooting with Adventures in Life Ministry.  This will be my 6th trip down in 3 years, and I have learned a few things over the years.

I have learned a few things over the years…no matter how well your prepared, something will happen that will throw you off and cause you to change directions in order to “keep up!”  So I basically gear up for the unexpected.

The biggest lesson of all, is that ministry in Mexico is fluid.  God is in control and He knows the beginning from the end and everything in between.  So if I rest in that assurance, I can go with the flow and ministry will be a lot more fun and successful.

In the end it’s not about whether I’m shooting with a Canon or Nikon camera, or if I’m using a PC or a Mac.

It’s about using the gifts that He has given me to the best of my ability.

So I prepare as best as I can, and I bring what gear I think I will need and use, and then I do my best to shoot what God shows me in a manner that brings Him the most Glory!

All Glory to God!


Photopeeps Tonite!

Bolt on over to Photopeeps tonite.  We will not be in Little Italy tonite, it’s sold out 😦  So we will be meeting tonite at our usual time and usual place tonite.

7pm in Rm 353 at the Rock Church

We will have some pizza to share, it’s not the same, but it is kinda Italian.  Come and join us and let’s share photos and talk about Jesus!

Free pizza, free sharing, free fun!  All are welcome!