It’s been said, and we agree: “A picture is worth a 1000 words.” But we also want to make sure those “1000 words” are worth their cost. Here is the best way to utilize photography and social media while on a mission trip:
From professional photographers to Snapchat aficionados, we live in a picture-driven society. Today it’s safe to assume that just about anyone has a camera on them and access to post anything to social media, letting everyone they know – and the world at large – catch a glimpse into their lives.
It’s an interesting phenomenon. It’s also a great responsibility.
Between selfies, #tbt (throwback Thursdays), and constantly changing newsfeeds, it’s easy to miss the heart of what is really going on with photography on the field.
*Photo by @angelaisworld
Cameras can be incredible ministry tools; and photography is in itself an act of worship. There’s also a way cameras can be used in ministry:
So, I’m going on a mission trip. Can I bring my camera/smartphone?
Yes! But we ask that you ask your team leader when it is appropriate to use it.
Why? Can’t I just take a selfie with the lady I met today? She was begging on the street, I gave her an apple, and she hugged me.
That’s great! So, how would lady feel to see her face, story, and even her name posted on Facebook? (Whether or not she has access to these things doesn’t matter). Are you taking the picture so you can remember her and pray for her whenever you see it, or to show the world the ministry you did?
Your intentions may be to show her poverty and need to people back home. But to her and those around her, you represent the West, Adventures in Missions, and most of all, Christ.
*Photo by @cbrow09_via__lisarodas_by_emilicarmichael
So, what’s the best way to share God’s love with a camera? We’re glad you asked!
Look for shots of your teammates in action in ministry. Sneak a photo of Lindsey praying for the family in the market, the picture of Nate hi-fiving a neighborhood kid in barefoot soccer.
Ask God how you can best use the photographs you post on social media. Can you encourage someone to pray or help a community or go on a mission trip? And don’t forget to tag #adventuresinmissions!
Give them a copy (if possible). If you can, find a way to print out photos you took and either leave them with your host to give out, or give out yourself. Some people have returned to locations even a year later and brought pictures they took the year before!
*All photos by Connie Rock.
Some things to be aware of:
At the end of our ministry moment, will this person remember Christ or my camera?
While cameras can be great ministry tools, they also can be shields. Sometimes we use them to separate us from uncomfortable situations, like speaking out as an introvert or seeing something that breaks our hearts. Being willing to be vulnerable and not pull out a camera in those moments can make all the difference.
When in doubt, ask your team leader for when and where it is appropriate to take pictures. And ask the Lord to use your camera to communicate his love – because he can and will!
*First photo by Jessica Herzanek and final photo by Olivia Osley
How have you seen photography be helpful or harmful in ministry? What are some ways you can use it as a ministry tool on a mission trip this summer?