Many years ago, the newspaper I wrote for sent me to a seminar on community journalism held by Jock Lauterer, a photojournalist and professor with a Southern drawl and a down-home perspective on things.
Among his many lessons was of a time he was taking pictures of a party and an old man told him, “Son, put down the camera and dance!”
Balance is important.
Last year, I arrived at the Evangelical Press Association’s convention in Denver early in the day and took a walk exploring with my new camera. Because I still had it when I went to registration, they asked if I’d be willing to take pictures of the convention. It was a favor to both of us and a great privilege, and it gave me a chance to explore the camera more.
Doing so helped me connect more significantly with some session lecturers and the organization’s leaders and I was glad to be able to help them. My pictures filled most of the slideshow at the end of the final banquet, got used throughout the year, and illustrated several pages (21-29) of this year’s program. It was rewarding and encouraging to see repeatedly that my efforts were appreciated and helpful.
This year, I’d not planned to attend the convention. We’d expected to be in Cape Town by January or soon after, but our delays eventually convinced me that I’d be around for Lancaster. They’d already arranged for a photographer, which allowed me the blessing of focusing fully on learning all I could from the sessions and workshops.
There were two days of pre-conference training on how to take photographs that will more effectively convey a story. A workshop speaker explained how Bible verses like Habakkuk 2:2 help us better write articles that will touch lives. Several presenters talked about best practices for interviewing, for videos, for social media, and for writing for the Internet. In every workshop block, there were three or four others I couldn’t attend.
California pastor Bryan Loritts gave the first keynote address, speaking on the importance of remembering that biblical patience consists of active waiting, not passive resignation. He also reminded us that, “If you are in Christ, then death is a form of healing.” That evening, a group of activists and filmmakers (including the producer of Schindler’s List) brought their documentary film The Abolitionists and discussed the work being done by Operation Underground Railroad to combat sex trafficking.
Radio host Brant Hansen gave the lunch keynote the next day, arguing that the Bible reserves righteous anger for God and reminds His followers not to let their anger cause them to sin and to get rid of it before sundown. “I know humans are broken,” Hansen said. “I know I can’t trust my own heart …. What if I just go through life forgiving people? I’m not going to live in perpetual shock that people are messed up.” Panels discussed the importance of civil discourse in a polarized society, as well as the immigration and refugee crises and how evangelical Christians are responding.
In every session, the EPA’s open nature allowed for great access to the speakers and panelists. Time to greet and thank them. Time to ask questions. Time to connect for future needs and questions.
As much as I enjoyed taking the photos the first year, it was a blessing to see others handling that this year; I was too busy learning.
Connect deeply the first year. Focus fully on learning in the second. A double blessing. A good balance.
Here are some of last year’s convention pictures from Denver, Colorado: