Saturday, February 6, 2016

Tornado Clean Up and A Photo Shoot

Forever it's probably been a year...I submitted some pictures to the Church's website to be considered for use in some of their publications.  I also sent an email expressing interest in being a Church Service Missionary Photographer.  And then nothing happened...the pictures I submitted were approved and that's pretty much it.  I didn't get a response to the email or the application I sent, so I just assumed they had all the CSM Photographers they needed, and I forgot about it.  

And then last month, someone from Salt Lake called asking if I was still interested.  (He actually called me a few times right before Savannah left on her mission and left a few messages, but I completely blew him off because I had zero time to even think about anything but getting Savannah to Germany...oh, and selling a house.)  In January, I had more time to listen to him explain what they were looking for.  Honestly, it sounded to me like they were mostly interested in pictures of people (people reading scriptures, people going to church, people working, cooking, playing together.)  And I don't typically take pictures of people.  At least, they're not what I would prefer to take pictures of.  In the couple of years that I've been doing this, I've managed to limit my photography scope to rural America and abandoned buildings, and I rarely stray from that.  I mentioned that to the nice man on the phone and told him I didn't think I was what the Church was looking for, and he suggested that I submit about 20 photos anyway and let the Church decide what they were looking for.  So I did that last month...and heard nothing for three weeks.  And because in my head, hearing nothing always means rejection, I assumed that I wasn't what they wanted and I stopped hoping for an email from Salt Lake.  

And then on Monday, I got an email from someone in the Church's Social Media Department.  She said that they had reviewed my images and thought I had "very good potential to become a missionary photographer," but they wanted to see a little more variety.  (That means they want more than barns and flowers and hay a person or two in an occasional shot would be a very good thing.)

Fortunately her email coincided with an upcoming service opportunity in our ward this weekend.  Last month when those tornados hit the DFW area, a lot of homes and farms were destroyed.  There are still trees down everywhere and tons to clean up.  The wards in the area have taken Saturday shifts to try and assist all those people in clearing debris from their homes and property.  This morning about 40 people from our ward went to a little ranch in Farmersville called Rama Llama.  The sweet lady who owns this place lives by herself and raises llamas to be herd guardians on sheep farms.  How cool is that?  During the tornado chaos, she lost most of the outbuildings on her property and several huge trees...and also two llamas.  The clean up would have been impossible for her to manage by herself.  What an amazing thing for her to watch 40 strangers show up in yellow jerseys to help her do what she could not have done on her own.  She was immensely grateful.  

And I had the opportunity to capture the whole amazing day in pictures.  Here's what it looked like...

This is Megan's "friend" Joel, by the way, and I only included this picture in here because he looked like a beast hauling all that farm wood around today.  Such a great kid.  We just adore him.  

Hopefully there's enough variety in these shots that I'll have a chance to be considered for that missionary photographer opportunity, but if not, it was still an incredible way to spend a day.  How grateful I am for a church that promotes service, for kids who are willing to work hard, and for a great reason to get out of bed early on a Saturday morning and magnify a few talents.

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