Ukraine Fall in Love Workshop
During my time in Ukraine I taught a Fall in Love Workshop and challenged 6 photographers to dream big, capture the eternal beauty of love and share it with the world around them. Like young trees planted by the river I see these people one day bearing fruit that will give their countrymen hope, faith, and love. It is amazing how powerful an image can be! Pictures of people intimately in love will be reminders to Ukrainians that love is stronger than communism, more powerful than the grave, and able to bring new growth to the devastated land that has been their home for almost a century. We spent a few hours discussing the philosophy and the purpose of photographing people in love. I challenged them to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses. We looked at the gifts given to them and I charged them to not compare with others, but to invest everything they had in humility with faithful sense of obligation to use what they had been given.
We finished off the day photographing a young married couple who haven’t had professional photos. They were in-love, sweet, but awkward; perfect for a workshop demonstration. It’s easy to capture people that glow in front of the camera and expose the place from which their love flows. Most people think that everyone on my website are models. I get clients all the time that tell me, “we are not photogenic like the people on your website.” I laugh and explain that the people on my website said the same thing.
Let me introduce Bogdan and Mira. I didn’t know much about them before they showed up. I didn’t even know who was showing up until hours before they did. Mira spoke English, but Bogdan couldn’t grasp a word I said. He seemed embarrassed and increasingly awkward because of it. I demonstrated to the class how I work to break down those awkward walls from before we go outside and I shove a camera in their face. Mira translated a few words and we stepped out into freshly falling snow on a very typically boring Ukranian street.
We started out in front of some apartment buildings and I asked Mira to take Bogdan across the street and cuddle him in front of the beautiful wall. She sarcastically blurted out, ‘Beautiful?!’. I laughed and explained that the contrast is what will make the wall so beautiful once they express their love in front of it. From there we had a small below freezing photo adventure that lasted only about a city block before we all fled back into the warmth of the office.
The students were deeply inspired and I greatly anticipate the contagious change that will affect their homeland and its beautiful people! But even more so, I was inspired, filled with awe at the amazing adventure of life that God has me on. Eight years ago I struggled with giving up ‘ministry’ or missions to become a businessman. I have been blessed to learn all these years that ministry is a state of the heart, not religious duty or work. I swelled with joy at the opportunity to bless these people who aren’t that much different than myself; dreamers, lovers, photographers, fellow ministers of the beauty of love that images communicate to a hurting world.