Posts Tagged ‘ Photography ’

1000 Words Aren’t Enough

We easily accept that a picture can be worth a thousand words.  But how often do we stop with the thousand words it speaks?  What about the rest of the story?

I took my camera to Soi Cowboy last week for the first time, trying to get some images for awareness-raising efforts.  And I hated every second of it.  As someone that usually enjoys being behind a lens, this threw me for a loop.

I hated looking through a lens at that place; I would much prefer to look in their eyes and hear the stories of the women we meet rather than “capture” the scenes that can’t possibly come close to telling the real stories of the past or dreams of the future.

I realized going there with a camera was risky.  I was risking looking (and feeling) like I was reducing women to subjects and statistics rather than affirming their worth and value.  Beyond that, I feared what reaction I might get to the photos.  I feared that others might see the photos and pass judgments.  Or even worse, that people might simply react with pity, shake their head and go on their way.

Either way, I realized that I’m terrified to take photos of the hard stuff because I know all too well how easy it is to stop with the “thousand words” and not bother to find out the rest of the story.

As uncomfortable as this makes me, I was reminded by someone I respect that it’s a turmoil we have to face.

I have the privilege of working alongside some incredible people and a handful of ministries that are committed to getting to know both stories of the past and dreams for the future.  Most of these people were moved at some point or another by the reality of the injustices we saw – whether it was through a photograph, a video, or seeing it in person.  “Seeing” it offered an invitation to enter in.

I guess that makes the turmoil worth it.  It’s my hope that any images used from this shoot or any others would not evoke judgment. Or pity. But that they would be an invitation for others to be moved with compassion to come and find out the rest of the story.

Tomorrow we’ll be attending a full day networking event with Thai Christian business leaders and a number of local non-profits. It’s an opportunity for Thai leaders to better understand what God is doing in the country and for ministries like The Well to find committed, local leaders to partner in our efforts.

We would love your prayers for God to move in the hearts of those at the meeting — that they would be compelled to want to learn the stories behind the images.

Whose Daughter?


Come and See

A dear friend of mine, Amanda Goolsby, flew in to Bangkok from DC last week laden with photo and video gear ready to help us capture some of the stories of those we work with at The Well.  We wanted to give a few women an opportunity to share a bit of their story, their vision for their community and country, and share with other Thai people how they might be able to be a part of what God’s doing.  Though we’re hoping to develop more documentary-style videos in the future, we want to use this footage in the near term to reach out to the Christian business community in Thailand at an upcoming networking event.

Amanda and Jim and our makeshift video shoot set in the Bangkok heat.

The goal is to not only raise basic awareness of the issue and the needs of the ministry, but to move Thai leaders into action in an area that has been long-neglected by Thai Christians and non-Christians alike.

We didn’t script anything.  Jim asked some simple questions and the women took it from there.  And boy did they take it!  I couldn’t help but be inspired by the strength of their passion in imploring their Thai neighbors to get it.

One of the women we interviewed touched on the fact that sexual exploitation, poverty and so many other socioeconomic issues are simply accepted as a reality in Thailand.  Though some will recognize that there are indeed problems that need attention, few are willing to truly see, understand and be moved to action.

And in her words, that’s not ok.

This was the message for her Thai neighbors.  It wasn’t a plea for pity or even for resources, but was simply an invitation to “come and see”.

She invited people in to see their life.  She seemed to want the Thai people to not only know poverty exists, but to see and understand it.  To not only know exploitation exists, but to look in the eyes of someone that has been exploited and abused and know them.  To know their story.  To know their hopes and dreams for the future.

And then, only after seeing and knowing, to be moved by compassion to take part in what God is doing.

It’s one thing to recount stories of what we see with our Western eyes, to hear these stories with our Western ears, to be moved to share our Western resources.  None of those are bad things; we’re called to be moved by compassion by what we see whether it’s next door or halfway around the world.  And believe me, we need as much awareness and as much action as possible from wherever we can get it.

But, we know that for real, long-term transformation to take place here, this vision has to be taken up and carried by Thai leaders.  For that reason, it gets me excited to see Thai women sharing with and challenging Thai leaders on their home turf.  I couldn’t help but get a glimpse of hope that this is a game changer.

Shane Claiborne wrote in The Irresistible Revolution that “when worlds of poverty and wealth collide, the resulting powerful fusion can change the world.”   I’m hoping for a great collision and a powerful fusion here in Bangkok as Thais are given the opportunity to “come and see”.

So thankful that Amanda was able to come and share of her time and talents!  Praying that technology and logistics work out for us to be able to maximize the communication value of their stories and the challenge they issued.

PS… If you’re a videographer and might be interested in coming to hang out with us for a while, let me know. 🙂