USING YOUR CAMERA FOR GOD
By Geoff Thompson
When I first started using a camera it was because I was living in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia with my lovely new wife.This was in 1971.
We lived there for the first 6 months of our marriage and it was a tropical paradise.I was being introduced to God and the Church for the first time as I had promised my wife, who had become a Christian before me, that I would go to Church with her but would not get sucked into her new beliefs but I believed in doing things together in our marriage.Well I did have an experience of God in Darwin in that I was blown away by His creation and the beauty of the Northern Territory. I had a very old camera of my Dad’s that he had carried with him in the air force and it was on this that I first started learning about f stops and shutter speeds.
I tried to capture the beauty I saw with limited success using Kodak slide film rated at 25 asa(iso).
My Dad, Glen Thompson, was my first tutor in photography who encouraged me into photography because as a young 13 year old teenager I was gun happy and used to shoot birds in the backyard with an air rifle.
He said I should start shooting birds with a camera and watching them as a hobby which I still do today.
Dad used to photograph, print and enlarge his own photographs in a home made darkroom.
He made his own enlargers using “bourne vita” tins. A popular chocolate malt drink like Milo in the 1940’s and 50’s.
Coming back to Adelaide I graduated to a Yashica Minister D 35mm rangefinder and then a beloved Pentax Spotmatic 2 that I still have and many more Pentaxes since then and Minolta and Canon and Nikon cameras plus a Praktica. The collection of old cameras has grown over the years.
I started photographing Family weddings in January 1975 and then it started growing from there. I have always had a purpose in my Photography since becoming a Christian in 1974. I became a Christian just before my first son was born as I wanted our home to be a Christian home. I had seen already at that time the break up of some of my friend’s marriages and I was convinced the only chance for our marriage to succeed was for it to be anchored in Jesus Christ.
I had also understood the Gospel after sitting in Church for three years and running out of arguments against God and Jesus.
I saw in my wedding photography an opportunity for Christian service on a couples’ special day rather than as a money making venture. That’s probably why I have never made a living out of it. I have tried to remember to pray for these couples in their marriages.
I also saw capturing happy family memories as a positive thing and I have developed a photographic memory as every thing I remember about our family life is practically in my mind as a still photo or a home movie or video.
I also have been a convinced creationist ie the Biblical version of creation ,for a long time and have always seen my other than people photography as an opportunity to capture the miracles of Creation be it Birds, Animals, Flowers , Landscape, Seascape etc.
And then of course to share that beauty with others.
I have always been wary of photography and especially the new digital technology as an opportunity to be led away from noble and wholesome ideas.
As Christians we are still susceptible to the downward pull of the flesh if we don’t believe what we pray in the Lord’s prayer.
“Lead us not into temptation”
“Deliver us from Evil”
When shooting film in days gone by you were not normally able to take photos of dubious content as there were laws about such things as they were processed in film labs. Now digital means the only restraints are a person’s beliefs and values.
There is much harm done through pornography and the lamer excuse for people to pursue their purient interests by calling their photography fine art or boudoir. And also just to make a quick buck.
I see much good being done by photographic journalists and admire the ideals of those who genuinely want to bring to the world images of injustice through their camera lens and also good news stories of the triumphs and miracle stories of human beings when facing adversity.
An excellent example,probably the best I have seen regarding using a camera for God is the recent documentary film called “as we forgive”. Just google it. It is available also from Christian bookstores.
It is am amazing story of the Rwanda genocide where neighbours were slaughtered by their neighbours and former friends in one of the most terrible and quick mass genocides the world has seen.
Learn the power of forgiveness as 2 women come face to face with their families” murderers and learn how forgiveness brings themselves peace and a future and also that of the murderers, and true reconciliation occurs.
A lesson for the whole world in what is possible through forgiveness which is so central to the Cross of Jesus..
I believe young people today embarking on a photographic career or even as serious or non serious hobby should stop and think about why they are taking a photograph. For Christians I think that a good rule would be if Jesus were here with me assisting on this photo shoot would He be completely in agreeance with what I am doing or would He reprimand me.
In other words am I glorifying Him in my behaviour .That should be our aim as Christians in all our endeavours.
I noticed on the internet recently a heading from a Christian photographer recently titled.”Take up your camera and follow me”
I thought this was quite clever but the danger is that the camera becomes a big focus and can become an idol.
It would better have been said, I think, as the scripture invokes: “Take up your cross daily and follow me!” you might then add: “and maybe bring along your camera.”
I believe there are amazing opportunities in our world today to use our cameras in God’s service and hope to one day run a workshop on this in Adelaide where I live.
Below is a link to someone who has put these ideas into action.
Look at his video on face book.