This is the story of how one photograph that I took literally changed the entire course of my life. It's the story of how I became a photographer, where I came from, how I got to where I am today, and what my life is actually about, today.
My church runs a program in the school holidays called "Holiday Club". We're actually in Holiday Club week as I'm typing this. Holiday Club is a time where parents drop their kids off at church with us, where we play games and do fun stuff with the kids, and we teach the kids about God's overwhelming grace.
Two years ago, I had finished my studies in IT, and been qualified as a whole list of fancy sounding acronyms that I really don't care to mention.
My first Camera...
In January 2011, I bought my very first camera. It was a Nikon D80, and I paired it up with Nikon's 50mm f/1.8D lens. It was cheap, second-hand, and pretty much the best I could do on a small budget (almost nothing). I bought it so that I could photograph the cases I was building, actually. I didn't care at ALL for the artistic side of photography, as I was never an artist. In fact, I was never good at anything artistic in my life - not dancing, singing, painting, drawing, writing, not even photography. I had TRIED to take decent photos before but I failed miserably. So doing something creative as a career wasn't something I had even considered, because I was a computer nerd type guy. I still am, to be honest.
Where it starts coming together..
Anyway, Holiday Club that year (2011) was where it all changed for me. During that Holiday Club, I chose to just take photos of the kids all day. I figured I needed some practice.
On the thursday of that week, I was sitting amongst the kids as they were(n't) listening to the leaders on stage speaking. I watched as the kids got distracted by the smallest little thing around them, not paying attention to the leaders. Then the leaders sang the little jingle they sing right before everyone prays, and instantly, the kids stopped what they were doing to pray. No distractions, no nothing.
Just the kids. And God.
Then I took this photo:
It's not even that great a photo, but as I pressed the shutter button, I knew that something significant was about to happen in my life. I just knew it.
God revealed the most challenging thing to me. Children have next to NO attention span. Nothing. We, as adults, have fully developed minds with all the attention span we need, yet so often, we can't NOT get distracted in prayer. How often haven't you started praying and then realised five minutes later that you're not praying anymore, but rather thinking about sports or food or something? Or how often haven't you decided that you were about to intentionally pray, and then decided to "postpone" that prayer as you "deal with another task quickly"? I know I've been guilty of these things. Yet, a 7 year old knows that when it's time to pray, it's time to pray, and nothing will distract him, because that's when he's talking to Jesus, and that's all that matters in that moment.
God was revealing all of this to me, through a photograph that I had taken. Holy Smokes!
After I had wiped the tears from my eyes and realised how powerful that was, I knew that God had just revealed my purpose to me. God had told me in that overwhelming experience that I'm supposed to have a camera in my hands, I'm supposed to serve people by taking photos for them. "Huh?! Me?! Do something artistic as a career? I've never been artistic in my life!" was my first thought. It was terrifying to know that I was pretty much the least artistic person on the planet, yet God had pushed me to take photos. I knew it was God, though. I knew it. So I stopped my life, and pursued HIS will.
So, that day, I hung up my tools, and never picked them up again. My ideas of having a big IT job doing amazing Cisco Routing & Switching were suddenly not an option for me anymore, nor was anything else in the world, besides photography.
From that day on, I did everything I could to learn as much as I could about photography. I never went to school for photography, though. I spent my days learning from the internet, taking photos, editing photos, trying this, trying that, etc etc etc. It was like the most intense "school work" I had ever done. I must've slept 4 hours a night for months, because I just wanted to learn more and more, and grow more and more as a photographer.
Fast forward to today, and I'm working full time as a photographer. Pushing my life aside to take pictures was the best thing I ever did. Along with being what God has called me to, Photography is also my passion, so my life is just the most joyful, pleasant experience. I wake up every single day and do what I WANT to do. It's like a dream.
I'm grateful to Jesus for calling me MILES out of my comfort zone. "Hey, unartistic IT nerd, yeah you - go be a photographer".
Friends, know this: If God calls you to something, just do it. And if you are terrible, TERRIBLE at it, he'll equip you to do it.