In many ways, photography can be a vivid part of your ministry on the mission field. It can be used to break down cultural walls, build relationships, display respect, support team members, and share important aspects of a ministry with the outside world. Here are four tips for making sure your photography benefits your mission trip.
Share Your Pictures
Taking photos on a mission trip can be a great opportunity to bond with those you are serving. You don’t need to speak the same language to enjoy taking and looking at pictures together. Sharing pictures with those you are taking them of is key. This creates trust and can be fun, too. Sharing photos can also be a great ice-breaking activity. You can even hand the camera over and let someone have the joy of taking some shots of you. Once you’re back home, consider printing your photos and giving them back to the people you took them of as a gift. In countries where most people do not have the resources to print photos, or even a camera to take them with, photo prints may be a valuable keepsake for them.
You’re Not at the Zoo
When you’re traveling around the city with your group it is easy to get caught up in the tourist mentality. You may want to take pictures of all the new places, people, and scenes you are seeing and experiencing. However, keeping photos to a minimum, especially when traveling as a group, is important so as not to make those you are visiting and serving feel like they are animals in a zoo being observed. It is important to remember that what you are wanting to photograph is actual people’s homes, jobs, families, and lives. Showing respect to those you come across always involves asking their permission first and only taking photos if they are comfortable with it.
Show Respect When Posting on Social Media
We love that you want to share your experience on social media, however, we also ask that you consider the impact these images have on a larger scale. When posting photos from your mission trip on social media always make sure it meets all criteria in this checklist.
SOCIAL MEDIA CHECKLIST
- Promote Dignity- It’s a unique and wonderful opportunity to hear the stories of people living in another country. Please make sure the items you post do not reflect negatively on them and respect their different cultures and traditions.
- Gain Informed Consent- Respect other people’s privacy and ask permission before taking a photo to share on social media or elsewhere.
- Check Your Intentions- Prior to posting, ask yourself WHY you are choosing to share this photo. Is it to share about the amazing things God is doing through you or others? Post away! (As long as the picture meets all other check points) Is it to gain more “likes” or “followers”? Best to not share!
- Avoid documenting vulnerable and sensitive situations.
- Don’t portray yourself as the hero in the story conveyed.
Have an Assigned Photographer
One great way to prevent the “zoo effect”, is to have a specific person on your team assigned as the team photographer tasked with the job to document the entire trip for everyone. This does not mean that no one else can take photos, but it does free up other team members to focus on more important things. As a group, it might be helpful to designate a photographer for the team whether they are experienced or not.
If you have pictures from a Forward Edge mission trip, don’t forget to share them with us! Email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.