Tomorrow I begin teaching my first digital photography class for high schoolers. I’ve poured over and over it, lesson-planned and prepared. After proofreading it multiple times, I still cry when I read this first section of my syllabus:
What is this class about? Why do we do it?
You will have to find your own answer but here is mine; why I do this and why I am here:
I found photography in high school, and it opened up a piece of my heart I didn’t know was there. This piece sought beauty in everything around me and longed for adventure. I was drawn to the contradictions around us, like a crystal puddle in an alley of shadows, or the bright red leaf that sits alone in a parking lot. These drew me in and snapped me out of my zombie-like life of work/eat/sleep. They reminded me how much more there is in this world, and of our Father who made it. Photography was a way that I could capture the meaning behind what I saw, and display it to those around me who may not have noticed it or seen the value. Eric Liddell, an olympic runner, is known for his quote, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” God has made all of us something, and when we find what that is, we feel His pleasure when we do it. I feel his pleasure when I take photographs. I can’t explain it, except that being behind a camera is like being home and I can feel Him smiling.
Photography is art, and as such, I believe you all are artists. It’s true. For we are all created in the image of the ultimate Creator, who has poured His own likeness and His eye for beauty into our souls. We create through nearly everything we do: through how we dress, how we fix our hair, how and what we cook, through our doodling, through the beat we tap on the floor when we’re bored. There is a piece of our heart that pours out beauty into this world in anyway we can because we long to be connected to the Father that put that piece there. I believe art is most satisfying, most beautiful, most pure, when it is done with and because of our God, our Daddy.
You are all at such a special point in your lives; you’re right at the brink. Life lies ahead of you. Beauty and storms, heartbreaks and love lie beyond. You’re picking up the tools you’ll need to run this race and run it well. You’re starting a journey that will end you in the arms of a Perfect Father who adores you. My prayer for you all is that, if I can, I can help you see the beauty all around you. I hope that by the end of this class you will have stories to tell me and pictures to show how you found a Light at the edges of this life that caught your breath and reminded you of Home, our eternal Home. I believe photography can be a great tool to help others see what the eyes of your heart feel. I want to teach you how to use that tool. If photography can be something that you feel God’s pleasure when you do it, I want to open that door for you. I want you to be able to walk out at the end of this class with your head high, knowing Whose you are, and knowing that you have the tools you need to bring that beauty to others who may not have noticed.