PhotoMission's Growing Family Spans Globe
- Jenni Parker Agape Press
- 2004 7 Jul
July 29, 2004
It is often said -- and is particularly apt in image-driven postmodern society -- that a picture is worth a thousand words. But when the person taking the picture has the Word within, very often the images created have the potential to shed light on a much bigger picture.
Knowing that, believing photographers around the world are coming together to form a fellowship of image-makers for Christ.
PhotoMission is an international organization designed to serve the needs of photographers who have personally invited Christ into their lives. Its mission is "to offer an online community for Christian friendship, to exchange information on the art of photography, and to see God's Kingdom grow through the talents and testimonies of its members."
PhotoMission began in 2000 when God providentially brought three people from different countries together through the Millennium Photo Project, an international enterprise through which 5,000 photographers contributed images to document the advent of the year 2000. Connie Wragge, a U.S. citizen whose interest began informally when she discovered she loved "taking photographs that capture the beauty of the world God has made," was the Millenium Project's community liaison.
Wragge's duties included writing to project photographers from around the world. At one point she started exchanging e-mail with a U.K. photographer named Ian Homer, who had taken some photos of Good Friday observances in Cardiff, Wales, and the two began discussing how the images might be used in a Christian publication. Then, three months later, Ghani Zaman of Calcutta, India, sent Wragge a message that included a biblical quote.
When Wragge inquired and found out that the Calcutta man was a brother in Christ as well, she introduced Zaman to Homer. The three continued their tri-continental correspondence, and their friendships grew as they began to pray for one another. Then, in the summer of 2001, they were inspired with the idea to create a ministry for Christian photographers, and PhotoMission was launched.
Open to professional and nonprofessional photographers, PhotoMission supports these Christian shutterbugs in their efforts to grow in their relationships to God and to each other, even as they grow in creative talent and photographic skill. The non-denominational group's members can share their testimonies online, exchange practical and technical information. and network with fellow members, as well as connect with people seeking photography to be used in communicating biblical truth and fulfilling the Great Commission.
Wragge says the vision God gave the founding members was to help Christian photographers the world over use their talents to support the kingdom of God. Their goal was to help support and encourage the photographers while giving Christian businesses, missions groups, churches, and ministry organizations access to affordable photography that could supplement their messages with visual impact.
The PhotoMission Website provides opportunities for member photographers to upload and display their work, to market photos that are for sale, and to obtain commissions and free-lance assignments. According to a statement on the PhotoMission site, the ministry "has always been about helping others, both Christians needing photographs and Christians taking them. We want to match need with talent and in doing so, God receives the glory."
Also, since November 2001, Wragge has been writing and distributing a weekly PhotoMission Praise and Prayer Update. The publication offers members a forum for their praises and prayer requests and also helps the core ministry team maintain accountability.
European co-founder Ian Homer recently spoke by phone with West Chester, Pennsylvania's Daily Local News from the U.K. He told the paper's Tara Munkatchy that what he loves about his involvement with PhotoMission is "just the chance of being something much bigger than myself."
Homer told the reporter, "It's great helping to build relationships with Christian photographers throughout the world," and added that he finds it gratifying "to be part of something that is not self-focused -- something that helps other people."
From PhotoMission's beginning, as Wragge, Homer, and Zaman have worked to build it into a thriving international ministry, their own relationship has deepened. They themselves became close despite the barrier of geographic distance, exchanging e-mail for nearly two years without all three ever meeting face to face. Then in December 2002, Wragge and Homer, who had just met each other in person a few months before, were finally able to journey to India for a tour that their co-founder Zaman had arranged for them.
The experience was, as Wragge describes it, filled with "cross-cultural diversity, incredible vistas, and unimaginable photo opportunities." In a PhotoMission report on their India tour, she noted, "Our extensive e-mail correspondence gave us a good level of understanding and empathy for one another as we traveled. Our differences were of little importance, and our similarities were grounded in the knowledge that we share a priceless friendship . . . defined by our faith in Jesus Christ."
That very knowledge is what informs and sustains the international fellowship of PhotoMission. Connected through the media of photography and the Internet, but also through the common ground of faith, the three founders and the more than 60 fellow-photographers that have joined them to date, are forming a global community.
© 2004 Agape Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.