Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Purposes of Photography

1. For the glory of God.
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.“
1 Corinthians 10:31

The whole purpose of every Christian on earth is to bring glory to God and, in doing so, have the chance of possibly leading another to Him. Our lives are not our own anymore (Romans 14:6-8), we belong to the King of Kings. Isn’t that wonderful?!! We’ve passed from darkness into His marvelous light (Ephesians 5:8)! Every fiber of our being belongs to Jesus the moment we give ourselves to him!

Jesus says in John 17:4 “’I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.’” If Jesus glorified (brought glory to) the Father, then shouldn’t we follow His example and do the same?

Photographer or not, we were made to bring glory to God!

Other verses to support this point: Isaiah 62:2-4, 1 Peter 4:11

2. To remember the “things of old.”
’Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.’” Isaiah 46:9

The Lord wants us to not forget the things that have taken place, even if it is just a birthday party or sports game, because many times He uses that to remind us of the great things He has done in our life (or others) and it gives us a chance to thank Him for all that He has blessed us with – family, friends, parents, etc.

When General Dwight D. Eisenhower learned about a German Concentration Camp called Buchenwald (during World War II)…well I’ll let you read it for yourself (it is not something easy-to-read and definitely not fun to read but please read it anyway):

On April 4, 1945, elements of the United States Army’s 89th Infantry Division and the 4th Armored Division captured the Ohrdruf concentration camp outside the town of Gotha in south central Germany. Although the Americans didn’t know it at the time, Ohrdruf was one of several sub-camps serving the Buchenwald extermination camp, which was close to the city of Weimar several miles north of Gotha. Ohrdruf was a holding facility for over 11,000 prisoners on their way to the gas chambers and crematoria at Buchenwald. A few days before the Americans arrived to liberate Ohrdruf, the SS guards had assembled all of the inmates who could walk and marched them off to Buchenwald. They left in the sub-camp more than a thousand bodies of prisoners who had died of bullet wounds, starvation, abuse, and disease. The scene was an indescribable horror even to the combat-hardened troops who captured the camp. Bodies were piled throughout the camp. There was evidence everywhere of systematic butchery. Many of the mounds of dead bodies were still smoldering from failed attempts by the departing SS guards to burn them. The stench was horrible.

When General Eisenhower learned about the camp, he immediately arranged to meet Generals Bradley and Patton at Ohrdruf on the morning of April 12th. By that time, Buchenwald itself had been captured. Consequently, Ike decided to extend the group’s visit to include a tour of the Buchenwald extermination camp the next day. Eisenhower also ordered every American soldier in the area who was not on the front lines to visit Ohrdruf and Buchenwald. He wanted them to see for themselves what they were fighting against.

During the camp inspections with his top commanders Eisenhower said that the atrocities were “beyond the American mind to comprehend.” He ordered that every citizen of the town of Gotha personally tour the camp and, after having done so, the mayor and his wife went home and hanged themselves. Later on Ike wrote to Mamie, “I never dreamed that such cruelty, bestiality, and savagery could really exist in this world.” He cabled General Marshall to suggest that he come to Germany and see these camps for himself. He encouraged Marshall to bring Congressmen and journalists with him. It would be many months before the world would know the full scope of the Holocaust — many months before they knew that the Nazi murder apparatus that was being discovered at Buchenwald and dozens of other death camps had slaughtered millions of innocent people.

General Eisenhower understood that many people would be unable to comprehend the full scope of this horror. He also understood that any human deeds that were so utterly evil might eventually be challenged or even denied as being literally unbelievable. For these reasons he ordered that all the civilian news media and military combat camera units be required to visit the camps and record their observations in print, pictures and film. As he explained to General Marshall, “I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.’”

His prediction proved correct. When some groups, even today, attempt to deny that the Holocaust ever happened they must confront the massive official record, including both written evidence and thousands of pictures, that Eisenhower ordered to be assembled when he saw what the Nazis had done. (*1)

© Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, Washington, DC, 2004

If Mr. Eisenhower had not ordered all the evidence available to be taken (pictures, video, letters, i.e.) than there would probably be nothing to show that this cruelty against those the Nazi’s considered “unfit to live,” actually took place in History.

Are you starting to see that every event in History – good or bad – needs to be documented? Pictures are a wonderful way to do that. Even if you don’t become a “World Event” photographer you are still recording important times in peoples’ lives. Even though it may seem like a “small” thing it really isn’t.

Other verses to support this point: Deuteronomy 8:18, 15:15, 32:7, 1 Chronicles 16:12 & 15, Psalm 45:17, Luke 17:18, John 7:18, Romans 4:20

3. To bless others.

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10 (emphasis mine)

Have you ever heard of the acronym J.O.Y.?


That is how we should serve. If you’ve ever served someone then you know that it truly becomes a joy! And when you serve others, you’re serving Jesus(Matthew 25:40)!

Taking pictures for others (not for money’s sake) is a huge blessing to the recipients. For example if you take pictures at one of their children’s birthday parties they can sit back and relax while entertaining the parents of the other children without having to worry about getting enough pictures of their child’s special day. People love good pictures of their children. (And if you love taking pictures of children you end up enjoying yourself too!)

Taking pictures of children are not the only way you can bless people. If you like to take pictures of wildlife in Nature, for example, it’s a huge blessing to others when you give it to them as a gift, surprise, etc. I have a picture of a baby bear leaning up on a little pine tree that was given to me by a really good friend of mine and every time I look at it I think of him.

Whatever your gift is, you’re not supposed to keep it to yourself…the Lord gave you that gift to share with others (Romans 12:6)!

Other verses to support this point: Isaiah 19:24, Zechariah 8:13, 2 Corinthians 9:5-8, Galatians 5:13, 6:7-10, Ephesians 4:7-8 & 11-12, 2 Thessalonians 3:13


4. To show Jesus’ handiwork to others through all of His beautiful creation.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” Romans 1:18-20

Go step outside, sit in the luscious green grass, and just breathe in that beautiful crisp air. You gaze up at the sky with all of those voluminous clouds, you see the bees buzzing busily around some nearby flowers, you feel the wind gently blow your hair, and you just sit there, awe-struck, and whisper “This could not have happened by accident.” That’s what this verse means. I love being in Gods’ creation. If I’m ever having a rough day the first thing I want to do is to go outside (especially if it’s a beautiful day) and just sit there. There is nothing more absolutely amazing. Space will not allow me to go into detail about how fearfully and wonderfully made everything is. Jesus’ hand is everywhere!

When you take pictures of Creation, and the things that it consists of, then you are giving others a glimpse of something absolutely magnificent. If you don’t think the Lord has given you a gift for outside photography, that doesn’t make your gift any less important! (Romans 12:6) Each gift is different and beautiful in its own way! (1 Corinthians 7:7)

Other verses to support this point: Job 37-41, Psalm 8, 19:1-4, 33:5-9, (just browse through Psalms and you’ll find lots! ), Ecclesiastes 11:3-5, Acts 17:22-25

5. To give another perspective to things in life than what others would normally see.

“Lift up your eyes, look around and see;” Isaiah 49:8a

This is one of those neat, fun aspects of photography! And this is the point that makes photography unique from most other things. Daddy once told me about a picture he saw. There were a few water droplets hanging off of a limb (probably from a recent rainfall) and in those beads shone the reflection of some windows that were behind them. I don’t think that very many people would want too many pictures of plain old windows in their house…but when you see them through a raindrop it adds a whole new dimension to the word window! Anyone can take pictures but the thing that makes a photographer stand out (among other things) is the different perspective that people see when looking at those photographers photos! Some angles on different subjects are too far on the “weird” side for me, but I encourage you to find different angles for your pictures! By “different angles” I mean don’t stay in the same position when shooting photos. MOVE. Your pictures will be very uninteresting if you don’t move! Get on the ground, climb ladders, bend yourself over and backwards – have fun! For example, when photographing children it is often best to get on their level. Have your head where their head is, your body where theirs is, etc. Most of the time people tend to take pictures standing up (since it’s the easiest) so they always get that particular angle, looking down upon them. That’s when the level-to-level angle looks nice.

A Note to Girls: There are some limits to what angles we as ladies can attain. I strongly encourage  you to be very aware of certain angles when men are around. Many of the angles above eye level (Ex. up a ladder) you should only do when there is no sign of a male around! Often certain areas of your body are visible by some of the listed angles and we don’t want to cause any man to stumble because of a compromising body position (Romans 14:21). If there is a guy around and you really want that photo you could possibly ask him to turn around or to close his eyes for a moment, if you make it fun he would probably laugh and turn around. Just be careful and have fun!

So, I hope you understand more fully the purpose of photography from the perspective the Lord has given me! The Lord has given you a gift now it’s your job to go "work it out with fear and trembling"!

Photographer for Jesus!

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