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  • WELCOME!

    Welcome to the blog! If the banner doesn't make it obvious enough I'll just spill the beans and let you know that we are a full time husband and wife wedding photography team. We love life, God, weddings, and if you slide over our names to the left you'll note a few other things we love.

    We are based out of Los Angeles, and when I say that, I mean our studio is right in the smack dab center of downtown. However, if you start browsing through the blog history you will soon note that we shoot weddings all over the country and world. We put a lot into making our images so I hope you enjoy checking some of them out!

    If you're up for having a great time at your wedding, and our photos have the look you are going for, then feel free to shoot us a note and we would love to chat some more!

    - Lukas and Suzy VanDyke

A Dedication to my Canon A-1 35mm SLR

This blog post is dedicated to my trusty old Canon A-1 35mm SLR.

Dear Canon A-1,

Your are the first SLR camera I could call my own. I remember back when I just started to understand what you were. I only had $100 to spend, and I rescued you from a pawn shop in Van Nuys. That was where our relationship began. I remember the wonderful feel of pulling your film advance lever with my thumb after each photo. The touch of your retro 70’s strap around my neck. The soft sound of your silk shutter sliding back and forth at different speeds. The clack of your mirror as I began to understand photography. I loved the excitement of adjusting the focus on your lens, turning all your dials and seeing the results. I remember the joys we shared as you took all my film and showed me what I could create. You were there with me when my life in photography began. You were even the first camera to take a picture of me with my now wife. I know we don’t spend as much time together anymore, and I know I have let you get a little dusty. But I also know that we will always be friends, and we will remember the good days when photos were fresh, ideas were new, and the world was yet to be conquered. Let us never forget those emotions and continue to live them. Thank you Canon A-1 for being there for me in the beginning.

Your friend

– Lukas

February 4, 2010 - 9:06 am

Brian & Monica - I still haven’t figured out how to tell my 30D that my first love was and always will be my Nikon FG. It’s mad enough at me already for bringing a Mamiya RB67 home a year ago. I just might end up threatening it…something like, “You remember what happened to 20D when he refused to love the film? That’s right, I got you. And where’s 20D now? Yup…he’s the backup. Now there’s a 7D patiently waiting to replace you, so you better be real nice to the filmies, or you’ll be at the back of the bag in no time.”

February 4, 2010 - 10:11 am

Ben - Good stuff. What’s not to love about full-frame 35mm? There’s a reason that even the original Canon 5D’s still command a premium price. A giant viewfinder is an amazing thing. Kudos to you for learning on a film camera. The amount of poor shots I made in my early days makes me glad I started with a DSLR (Rebel XT) . I’m hoping Canon will combine a 5D with a 7D and make something amazing..

Contrast Concepts: Another Preview

Ok I know I just posted a preview three days ago. But seriously I have been having so much fun with this! This video has been sitting on my harddrive for eight months and I’ve been dying to get it on my site. So I’ve been sitting at my computer all day the past two days editing away! I shoot with all Canon Mark III’s which sadly don’t have a video option. But my good friend Deborah loaned me her 5D Mark II for a couple days to do the interviews. Although it’s obviously not my first choice for a work camera, I’m LOVING the video features.

All said, here’s another little clip from the documentary I’m working on. It’s a story of the Contrast Concepts shoot last summer. It will end up being built into an expanded part of the LEARN section on my site! All coming soon. This clip is of the adorable and talented Suzal!

Can you do ministry with photography?

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked “How can I do ministry with my photography?”. In fact I think it’s something that many Christian photographers think through at various levels. I would love to just post a quick paragraph with the answer. But I don’t think it’s a quick answer. So buckle up for a little bit of depth into my thoughts on the subject.

Here’s a paraphrased version of an email I received yesterday:

Like you, I’m a photographer. I enjoy it and have done several paid gigs, but I’m not looking to make it a full-time pursuit at this point. I love the Lord. He is my supreme desire and even when sinfully I put other things before Him. I “want to want” Him to be my sole desire. I know you seek to honor the Lord in all you do, so I’m hoping you might be able to share some wisdom that you may have gleaned.

The other day I built a shelf to house all of my photography gear. As I was putting my gear away, it struck me how much stuff I actually have. Like you, I shoot with the Canon 1D, have multiple 2.8, “L” series, and prime lenses.

I’m somewhat struggling a little with knowing just how to honor God with all of this equipment. It is my desire that whatever I do, whether eat or drink or take photographs, that it brings glory to God.

I tend to be a bit of an extremist and balance doesn’t come easy for me. I know the answer isn’t “Ok, your a Christian photographer, so you can only use a cheap point-and-shoot”. But I also don’t want to covet gear.

I guess I’m just looking for any insight that you’ve gained which really helped you to do your photography as unto the Lord to honor Him.

Maybe answering this question would make a good post on your blog. I’m sure others could be wondering the same things as well.

Thanks

Ben

First of all let me say I think there are a lot of ways in a lot of different areas of life that you can use photography for ministry. However, for the sake of brevity in this post I’ll just focus on photography within the local church. First I would like to address how it could be a hinderance, followed by some really practical ways it can be used for effective ministry. As time permits in the future maybe I can address some other areas.

When I first started out doing photos for my church, it was just me and a point and shoot camera taking lots of photos at all the events, retreats, and my friends. After every event I picked out all my favorite images, put them on a CD and gave them to the church website people. Sometimes the images got put online and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they got put in slideshows and sometimes they didn’t. It’s been ten years since then, and very few people remember any of the photos. A few of them got used for a 40 year anniversary timeline for our pastor. And occasionally it’s fun to look back and reminisce about old times. I even remember one person telling me he found the church website and saw some of the photos and it made him want to come check it out as he was looking for a church. Ten years ago when I went on retreats I would spend most of my time taking photos of everything that was happening. I was somewhat involved in the retreat, but very distracted.

On a completely different level, at one point during my college career I decided to make a point to meet as many new visitors as possible on Sundays and make them feel welcome. I went out of my way to find people who looked like they didn’t fit or were new and introduced myself. I tried to be their friend, remember their name, and even took a few of them out to coffee. Ten years later many of those people still come up and remind me how I was the first person to really reach out to them and make them feel welcome at church and help them get plugged into the body. Now when I go on retreats I won’t bring my camera. I will really try to spend time getting to know people, talking about their spiritual lives, and ministering to their soul.

In all of the above cases my motive was to serve Christ and the church. But when it comes down to it, people’s hearts and the GOSPEL are what really matters. To my shame I think there were points in my earlier life where I was just taking photos to feel like I was “serving” and use it as an excuse to avoid the real ministry. The more difficult ministry of sharing the gospel and caring for people’s souls. Yes photography or any other skill can be used to the glory of God. But as you look at your time I think it’s incredibly important to evaluate where you can be the MOST effective, and spend more time doing ministry which will last through eternity. It’s just a guess, but I think caring for someone when they are in grief, or sharing the gospel with an unbeliever will last a lot longer in the eternal realm than some cool photos of Bible study retreat.

All that said, I think there are some effective ways you can use photography for ministry. However, some of those ways probably aren’t the most fun type of photography. In fact, effectively using your photo skills for ministry can sometimes just be tedious and boring. As you evaluate how to use your skills a good general rule of thumb is to ask yourself: is this a NEED which will help spread the gospel, or am I just trying to create a need so I can pigeon hole my desire to take photos into it? (Stop here and rethink that last sentence until it makes sense)

On a practical level, here are a few needs I have found at my church to use photography. The list isn’t exhaustive but it’s a start:


Portraits:

Missionaries- Most missionary families need good updated photos of their families almost every year to update their prayer cards, missions letters and websites. This is an easy and effective way to help them.

Address Book- Many ministries will have a church address book. It’s nice to have photos of everyone to match the name. But if you do it I would make sure to take on the work of organizing when you take the photos as well as categorizing and naming all the files appropriately. Don’t create a nightmare for the secretary by handing her a disk of unnamed unedited files in huge resolution to sort out and format.

Pastors- At larger churches it’s nice to have good uniform photos of the pastors and other leadership for the website so people can match a name with a face.

Families- Many families would love to have photos of their kids. But they can’t afford to buy a camera or to get professional ones taken. It can be a great opportunity to show them you care and develop a real friendship.

Event Coverage:

Church Events- Like a mentioned above I often think taking photos at various events can be more hinderance than help. But our church uses a number of photos I have taken from church events for wall posters, slideshows in the visitor center, and various brochures. Just make sure to sort, rename, and edit all the photos before you turn them over. Most secretaries don’t know how, and don’t have time to use Photoshop.

Conferences- For conferences I do live photo coverage and post images on the website a couple times a day during the conference. I get lots of emails thanking me from people who couldn’t attend. It adds another dimension to the live video/audio stream. They will also use the photos for the conference website and other promotional material they send out throughout the year. The key is to make sure there is a need. If your church doesn’t have a website for the conference, and doesn’t send out brochures than there isn’t much point.

Missions Trips- I’ve also done a lot of photos on missions trips. But I think the key to making that an effective ministry is to ask the missionaries what they need photos of. What do the need for their newsletter/blog/website? Make sure to get photos of everything they need, and then pick the best few, edit and categorize them, and mail them a disk ASAP. Missionaries are super busy and don’t have time, energy, or the knowledge base to sort and post process the 17,000 photos you took while you were there.


I go to a very large church and personally know more than a dozen professional and amateur photographers. Some of them for whatever reason don’t ever take a single photo for the church. That could be because they are too focused on other ministry, or it could be because they don’t care to minister. Others take photos of anything and everything, but they don’t format them, or they never give them to the church, or they even distract people from other things more important. However, there is a group of a good number who have multiple ministries, and one of those is taking the time to do some of the above with excellence. I think that is real ministry.

For me, part of becoming a full time photographer was that I would always have professional equipment to do ministry with. But there is a place for excellence as an amateur as well. I know two people in particular at our church who didn’t buy the most expensive cameras or lenses out there. But they bought equipment nice enough to create some great images. I see both of them striving in the sometimes tedious areas they picked serving with consistency and excellence through their photography.

I hope that answers your question Ben. Please feel free to leave comments if anyone has any other thoughts on the subject and I will be sure to reply. Also please forward this on to anyone else who you think might be interested in the subject.

January 31, 2010 - 9:07 pm

Ben - Well, I’m not that Ben, but I have thought extensively about this, and have come to some conclusions. Like you, Lukas, I try to minister to the people in the congregation with my photography. In the past that has been doing family portraits, photo booth type setups at events, and submitting portrait sessions for auction to support missionaries. I’ve also done a couple of weddings for church members at reduced prices.

However, I’ve been focussing less on how can I use this within the church, and more on how can I use it to further the gospel outside the church. Our church is located in a city that is very much about art and music. There is a huge music scene with small bands and singer/songwriters. We’ve been able to use our building as a venue for several concerts that helps us to build relationships with some of those in music in the area, by networking through the individuals within our church who are actively involved in music in our city.

We are now organizing a sort of “creative” team, that will include music, and various kinds of art (including photography and graphic design). We have a number of projects in the works, and are thinking through ways to engage the lost of the city through art, and specifically the way a shared passion for various kinds of art might lead to relationships in which the gospel can be preached. One specific idea we’ve had, is to highlight certain businesses and people in the area that are doing unique/interesting things either with business, or volunteering, or sports. We’d do a series of portraits, as well as interviewing them. We’d have a blog setup to publish the stories. The main goal would be developing relationships between members of our church, and many key individuals in the city.

So, while any use of my photography can be done “to the glory of God”, I’m working on using it a little more explicitly for the kingdom.

February 1, 2010 - 7:48 am

Ben - Well, I am that Ben. Thanks for taking the time and giving such a thorough response. I’ve been praying about this for the last few days and have come to the same conclusions as your post. I’ve decided to talk to my Pastor and let him know that if they have a need for a photographer, I would like to serve in that capacity (or any other area for that matter). I know the yearly photos for the directory are going to be taken soon, so perhaps that can be something. There are also many other events that the church puts on, both for members of the church and the community, so that could be something as well. Lots of opportunities it seems. If I get used in this capacity, great. If not, that’s ok.

February 3, 2010 - 9:09 pm

Camnio - Ben, your article reminds me of the first person ever to raised from the dead in the book of Acts. It was a lady named Dorcas, who wasn’t one of the apostles, who wasn’t even one of the biggest speakers and just simply a woman who made clothes. Yet God chose a woman who was great at her skill to demonstrate His power.

February 3, 2013 - 9:49 pm

Lance Russell Puckett - Wow, that was a wonderful article. Thank you so much and God Bless. If you get a chance I would really appreciate if you checked out my page. http://www.facebook.com/icapturelife Hope you have a blessed week!

September 15, 2013 - 9:45 pm

Kelvin - Excellent post. I have been having similar questions as Ben. I feel the same way as you do regarding how sometimes photography takes the photographer out of the real action of an event. But what I most agree with is the questioning of the NEED. Personally, I think sometimes photos of church events are taken for the sake of having photos and are never put to any use or that sometimes they just benefit the already church going families.

Thank you for sharing.

November 15, 2013 - 1:21 pm

Frank - I am looking for ways to use photography as a tool for outreach. If you have any suggestions, that would be helpful. One way I have used that has had some success is when I am traveling and meating people at popular locations I ask them if they would like me to take there photo. Then I get there email address to be able to send them there photo. When I email them there photo later, I also include my testimony of how I came to Christ or one of several other testimonies that could relate to giving God glory for His creation in relation to what we both experienced there. I have a number of testimonies saved in a PDF format. This makes is very easy to just use it as a attachment. When the situation is different, I just create a new one and then save it as a PDF and add it to the others for use later.

November 15, 2013 - 8:15 pm

Frank Quinlan - I am looking for ways to use photography as a tool for outreach. If you have any suggestions, that would be helpful. One way I have used that has had some success is when I am traveling and meating people at popular locations I ask them if they would like me to take there photo. Then I get there email address to be able to send them there photo. When I email them there photo later, I also include my testimony of how I came to Christ or one of several other testimonies that could relate to giving God glory for His creation in relation to what we both experienced there. I have a number of testimonies saved in a PDF format. This makes is very easy to just use it as a attachment. When the situation is different, I just create a new one and then save it as a PDF and add it to the others for use later.

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