You know what is pretty awesome about a project trip experience for me? I am never off. Not for one minute unless I go to sleep or everyone else does. And I LOVE it.
The point of sending a photographer on a project trip is to document the whole experience. I take that seriously. So for nearly every minute of our waking hours, my camera is never more than arm’s length from me. I may sit down to do some editing or journaling or begin the downloading process, but I am always ready to grab it and shoot if something, anything happens.
On our year-long trip around the country I noticed something ironic about photography: in working hard to make sure no great moment goes undocumented, the photographer does not really experience those moments fully. It has happened to me on past eMi trips as well, and before we left the US I found myself quietly asking God to help me experience the whole thing as He wanted me to, even if that meant I had to sacrifice some great images.
I have an oddly photographic memory for my photographs, meaning I can recall shooting pretty much every single image in my Lightroom library, even though I may not remember the moment very well. On the day we were to give our project presentation, Alicia asked me for an edited version of an image she was using for the first slide. I took one look and confidently told her that was not my image. I had no recollection of shooting it. Alicia, however, was certain it was mine because she got it from my memory card. I told her I could clearly remember the moment, those children, their laughter, and me laughing with them despite the language barrier. But it had to be someone else’s photo. I thought I was not shooting then. I was enjoying it.
In fact, I was sure I was missing a LOT of good images from the week because I had spent more time living it than shooting it. And as this dawned on me I forgot all about asking God for that precious experience and suddenly panicked because I had ONE job: document the week. And I was certain I had just failed. I popped my memory card in my computer and scrolled through quickly, looking for that image Alicia wanted. And there it was, amid about 872 others. When I had time after we got home, I scrolled through all of them and realized that I had a lot of emotional recall on all those moments.
And I thanked God.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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