Thursday, January 27, 2011


You know what?  I've been holding out. 

I've been dying to just talk and talk about how much I loved photographing the people of Zambia, but I thought it was important to cover the main points of the trip first- I've certainly shared healthy amounts of editorial, personal, and reflective thoughts along the way, but, what's this blog for if not for that?

As for the rest of my blogs about Zambia- well, I don't know when I'll be done.  Rephrase- I'll never be done, because it's just beginning.  I know in saying this, some people won't believe me.  They'll think I'm on some mountaintop, breathing thin air, and not thinking clearly.  But I can't recall having one single mountaintop experience on this trip- though there were a lot of valleys, and a few peaks.

Essentially, other than my love for Jesus (which encompasses all of this), my love for Jim, and my love for my own children, I have never, ever, been so in love before.  My heart has been remade- like God tore it up in Africa, refashioned it, and made it 10 sizes bigger to make room.  I don't say that foolishly, or with a small bright passion that will fade with life and time and other pursuits.

I'm not on a high- in fact, I can't probably even quantify right now how inconvenient it is to fall in love with these people, with this place.  It will wreck all kinds of plans.  It transcends our finite resources, our bank account, our own strength, and just leaves us wholly dependant on God alone to provide every need.  I feel like we're completely inadequate, but equipped.  My heart is on Zambia throughout the day.  This isn't simple, it's earth shaking.  I know I'm using big and dramatic words, but, I'm speaking from my heart right now.  The love pushes these other things aside, yet holds all the other true loves of my life together and pushes us forward.

It's all new.

And you know what?  I have never, ever, felt so much hope and joy and happiness in the wrecking of my life.  Never.  I am confident that God has begun a new thing, has expanded what He's revealed to our family concerning our purpose, and I am humbled at the privilege, and my heart is full.

On to Photography.

I could talk on and on about how much I loved photographing these people.  And the fact that something I love so much can be used to promote the growth of awareness, education, passion, and resources on their behalf is very humbling to me- and it leaves me compelled to keep doing it.

In America, there are fences and walls everywhere.  We guard most everything about ourselves.  I have always held a passion for photographs that are not manipulated in any way- not by me, not by the subject.  Photographs that are authentic, honest, true.

In America, people hate being photographed- and the ones that love it typically just love themselves.  It's very difficult to achieve an honest image here, without any pretense.  It's hard.  I have to be very, very tricky to do it.  People manipulate the image themselves long before I ever can with intentions in how I take the shot, or in Photoshop later.

The people of Zambia swung open their doors for me from the moment we made eye contact. 
Over and over I photographed people who held themselves with the purity of a child who is not yet self aware.

In Zambia, if people were aware that I was photographing them, they might typically embrace a stoic composure, or a funny pose, but, the innocence was still there so strong it could bring me to tears at times (not hard to do, I should mention).

It was unvarnished reality.

And when I'd taken the shot, they'd smile wide and usually laugh out loud to see themselves in the LCD.

I can't get over how in love I am with these people- and the joy that the thing I love to do more than almost anything can be used to bring them joy, and to bring their faces and stories back here- and that doing so can start more fires for them.

I enjoyed the gritty, dark places I shot in- sometimes places with almost no light at all.  It was always dark, it was usually rainy, if there were electric lights, the light was poor, and if there were windows, people were almost always back lit.  I couldn't get enough of it.

I was all wrapped up in embracing the light and shadow- with the way the light would fall and wrap over everything, how it highlights their faces so beautifully.

To see this baby, my heart is broken- and it is also filled with beauty and hope.

I'm just in love.

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