Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to Make Missions Trip Photos More Compelling

Q&A with Adam Lorenz, Support Staff, and Tracy Dubois, Support Staff 
January-March 2016
A young boy on Buvuma Island in Lake Victoria, Uganda.
Hugo, a national Christian, and his daughter attend a special Children’s Day at Cristo Viene Church in Paraguay.
Ugandan children in the capital city of Kampala.
Adam Lorenz, WGM’s graphic designer and photographer, in action in Paraguay.
Following a special puppet show, children at Cristo Viene received Operation Christmas Child gifts.

Q. What specific things should a person consider when taking a photo?

A. As a photographer, I’m aware of lighting, depth of field, and other things that are not necessarily something the average person taking photos on a missions trip would think about. Lighting is too broad to cover here, but let’s talk about depth of field or how in focus an object is. If I’m taking an up-close photo of just you, I want you to be in focus and the background out of focus. However, if I’m taking a larger group photo, my depth of field has to be bigger. You always want your photos to be about a specific subject.

Q. What’s on your Top 10 list of things to take photos of when you’re on a field?

A. The biggest thing is to have variety in your photos. I try to take photos of individuals, groups, and the scenery (wide and closer shots). I also take close-up photos of people actively doing ministry and pictures of them paused, looking at the camera, and posed for the camera. I try to plan ahead before I take a trip, because I never know how my photos are going to be used by a missionary. For people going on a missions trip, it would be helpful to think ahead of time what message you want your photos to convey.

Q. Why is it important to ask for permission before taking a photo?

A. It has been my experience that it is very easy to tell if a person is willing to have their photo taken. It is also very easy to get permission by simply asking, “May I take your picture?” Getting permission always leads to better photos.

Q. How do you handle getting copyright releases?

A. At WGM, we need to get copyright releases when we use photos to raise money. However, in the case of most missions trips, the fundraising is already done and the photos are being used to share what happened on the trip. So, during a missons trip, it is more important to get permission to take a photo than to get a copyright release.

Q. Do you recommend a specific type of camera? Are cell phones sufficient?

A. The camera absolutely matters, but not in terms of a specific type of camera. It’s more important that you know how to use the camera you have. Also, cell phones have their place, but they are not adequate for anything beyond snapshots. Memories are captured with real lenses. Basically, you get what you pay for, and technology has provided options at just about any price.

Q. Why are good photos important as you share about a missions trip?

A. A picture is worth a thousand words. When a photo is taken, it captures that exact moment in time, whether good or bad. It is a way to convey that moment that is not always possible with words.

Q. What are two of your favorite field photos and why?

A. We went to a special children’s program in Paraguay and to Buvuma Island in Uganda. In both places, the people were not worried about me. They were being themselves, and I was able to capture that.

Q. What are three takeaways people should glean from this article?

  • Ask for permission before taking any photo.
  • Take as many photos as possible. In today’s age of digital photography and memory being so inexpensive, there’s no reason not to. You never know if a 60th of a second will turn into a fantastic photo.
  • Plan ahead and know how to use your camera. Don’t let your camera be an afterthought.
Do you want to go on a WGM team?
GO: Has Adam inspired you to go to the mission field and capture your own special moments? Visit www.wgm.org/teams or contact teams@wgm.org to schedule a missions trip today.

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