Seminar to teach students missions photography skills

Students are encouraged to write letters in encouragement of students going on mission with Baylor.

By Meghan Hendrickson

Baylor students can learn how to share their mission trip stories and the stories of those they meet through photography at a workshop next week.

Baylor Spiritual Life is hosting the Mission Trip Photography Training Seminar from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Bobo Spiritual Life Center. Snacks will be provided.

The seminar is free and open to all students, not just those who are going on mission trips this year.

Adam Velez, missions awareness ministry associate for Spiritual Life and first-year Truett Seminary student, is facilitating the event and said he hopes it will help students learn how to better share their stories.

“The ultimate goal is to encourage not just mission trip participants, but everybody to see the gift of photography and relating messages across cultural barriers to partake in those experiences together,” Velez said.

Dr. Michael Korpi, film and digital media professor, and Baylor alumnus Wynne Elder, a photographer in Midland, will serve as guest speakers for the event.

Holly Widick, coordinator for Baylor missions who is in charge of public relations for the event, said the two guest speakers are both professionals and experts in sharing stories visually. Widick also said she hopes to apply their “wealth of knowledge and experience” to her own experiences.

“Students will learn how to capture stories rather than just faces and landscapes,” Widick said.

Lovettsville, Va., junior Emily Jones is planning to attend the seminar.

“The goal [of the seminar] is to better equip students for capturing moments and the essence of their mission,” Jones said, “so that they can share that with friends, family and even strangers once they return home.”

Jones is not going on a mission trip this summer — like the 232 members of the Baylor community who will be serving on 12 mission trip teams in eight countries — but said she hopes to learn photography skills she can use in any environment.

“It will be fun to practice the new things presented in the workshop even in everyday life for the rest of this semester and as [photography] opportunities come up over the summer,” Jones said.

Velez and Widick said it is easy for students to go on a mission trip and take hundreds of photographs, but it is challenging to filter through the photographs to discern what is worth sharing with others.

“This seminar will not only focus on how to take good-looking pictures on mission trips, but how to take pictures that are ethically good and good for the people displayed in them,” Widick said.

Velez gave a photography ethics example of a person walking down the street in another country, seeing a group of homeless children and getting right up in their faces with a camera to take their picture. He said this is as if you are stealing a person’s identity before you even know their name.

“Imagine if someone were to come visit Waco,” Velez said. “You wouldn’t want someone awkwardly flashing a camera in your face.”

Velez said he thinks this seminar will be useful to anyone who is interested in taking photos or videos on mission trips, vacations or in everyday life.

Velez said he believes “missions” means not simply going on a mission trip overseas, but “living [one’s] identity as a Christian and allowing that to transform [one’s] entire life.”

“Missions is a way of living out and expressing your Christian faith,” Velez said. “Christianity is not just about a personal relationship with Christ, but involving the communal aspect in that.”

Widick said she encourages students to take pictures on their missions experiences this summer so they can share them with the Baylor community this fall.

“We will be hosting a missions photo gallery and contest for them to display their photos and stories,” Widick said.