Thursday, January 31, 2013

Urbana 12 - Join In Night

This Urbana, we tried something a bit different, something we have never tried before; a Join In night.  The idea is that the participants of Urbana 12 would be given an opportunity to join with a ministry in providing the assembly of 32,000 medical kits to be sent to countries in Africa to support the work of World Vision Care Givers as they love and care for their neighbors who can't care for themselves or lack the ability to find care.  The goal was not so much to feel like we did something great (although that feeling was there) but morose to actually partner with these Care Givers and learn from them.  Shortie, the Care Giver I followed in Swaziland even came to admonish our efforts and pray with us.  (See more about her story here.) Below is a short summary of the evening that a coworker put together:

The photos below were taken on this Join In night where I had a lot of work showing.  I was still able to shoot photos and still enjoy the event.  It was quite surreal to walk around and see all our planning actually happening.

See this post here for the story behind the above 25 Portraits I took in Swaziland:

See this post here for the behind the scenes look at the Swaziland trip.

The photo below was taken shortly before the photo above...and as you can see, I was a little ecstatic at what I was seeing.
Photo by Adam Jeske

Friday, January 18, 2013

Swaziland Part 3 - behind the scenes

The Swaziland video projects started like most good trips, we went in with a plan that was almost completely demolished once we were on the ground.  Many of the stories we sought out to capture did not exist or were not accurate for the people we were interacting with.  We scrapped all but 2 of these projects (the Caregiver video and the 25 Portraits) and created 6 more as we found them.  A bit hair raising at times, but fun none the less.  "Why plan in the first place," I sometimes wonder...but our original plans pushed us in the right direction for the videos we eventually come back with.  Some dropped in our laps, while others were a bit harder to draw out.

The main video to come out of the project was a profile on Shortie, but we were also able to create several other videos that showed daily life in Swaziland, the type of people that are in the communities, how some of the kit products are used (and needed) as well as a case study in how an organization like World Vision needs people from many sectors with many skills to even place these kits in the hands of the Caregivers.  Hopefully this last lesson hit home and people feel validated that God can use their gifts and talents for His Kingdom.

Leading the team was a great honor, and a very humbling experience.  As I lead more, I realize leading is not about having all the answers (or even knowing how to do everything) but more about making what needs to happen...actually happen.  My leadership style (although still forming) has become one of collaboration; where I pull on many opinions and insights to make a decision for the next steps.  On this trip, this skill was invaluable as I relied on everyone's role, and their abilities to pull off what we did.  

I trusted my twentyonehundred teammates; Amy and David to shoot what needed to be shot in order to gather the visuals for the story. And I was no where near disappointing, in fact...more like proud.

I relied on Sandra (the Urbana Worship Leader) to play the "front woman" and allow us to observe and find the story as she interacted with our hosts.  (She was such a great person for the job, a family GAVE her a chicken, a huge honor!)

I relied on Nikki (Urbana Program Director) for insight into how the stories we were gathering fit into the program, as well as our many brain storming sessions to decide which stories to pursue.

I relied on Dana and Debbie (from World Vision) to fill us in on the World Vision logistics and help entertain people when we needed time (and quiet) to get our story.  

And I relied on Bongi; our driver, fixer, translator, narrator, "pilot", and way we could have done it as smoothly as we did without him.  

It was amazing to see everyone come together to do whatever was need to be done for whatever came our way, a true example of team. Holding umbrellas for the camera (and not ourselves) back massages, long waits, sacrificing a jacket for someone (me) who forgot his, and more I probably do not know about...

It was hard to fathom why I was chosen to direct, as there were several others on the team that are far more qualified and experienced to lead this trip.  But, talking with them, they pointed out that I was the only one that understood both sides to the trip; the video side, and the Urbana side.  I was thankful for the opportunity to grow.

A hearty "siyabonga" out to the other way we would have produced the 8 shows that we did without all our efforts.

(L to R: David, Amy, Dana, Bongi, me, Sandra, Debbie, and Nikki.)

See Part 1 for more about the Caregiver video and part 2 for more on the 25 portraits.

This project was never about aim is to just offer with what God has gifted me with.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Swaziland Part 2 - 25 Portraits

While my main role was to direct the Swaziland Video projects, I was also there to do some photography. (Directing while photographing has been a great combination for me lately, a lot easier than shooting video and photography.)  This time, a specific project came out of the photography, a series of portraits portraying families in Swaziland. The idea was to print 25 life sized portraits that would represent the 25 touches each medical kit has the potential of reaching.  "25 pairs of gloves, 25 touches of love and care."

The idea was to take these portraits in front of peoples homes, not only to show a sense of place and context but also to give the feeling you were walking through a village, meeting these people.  An overcast day or two really helped this.  But when the sun came out and created harsh light, I was thankful to find doorways that faced away from the sun to create great shade.

During the Join In night, participants walked through a corridor of these portraits as they entered the dome to pack their kits.

To be honest, as I was shooting in Swaziland I was not thinking about the massive audience, just the photo...which made me panic a little as I watched 17,000 people walk through the display.  This is one of those projects you need to pinch yourself to make sure your not dreaming.  "Really?  17,000 people are viewing my work? And it is helping them understand!"  I will never have an art show that will exceed this many eyes, but I am not sure if I want to "show" my work as art, I would rather have my work be useful for something more educational.

See part 1 for more on the Cargiver video and stay tuned for part 3 for some behind the scenes action...


Friday, January 11, 2013

Swaziland Part 1 - Caregiver

On the 3rd day of Urbana 12, the participants walked into the dome to find that we were doing something a little different; a "Join In." We were going to pack 32,000 medical kits that contained hard-to-find supplies that volunteers would then use to bring care and comfort to many people who lack basic care and/or are unable to find help.  We wanted to not just have the Urbana Participants build 32,000 medical kits, but also learn from those that use these kits what it is like to "love thy neighbor," and "care for the least of these."  We then introduced Urbana to Shortie, a World Vision Caregiver that uses these types of kits to show love to her neighbors.

This profile above was shown to the Urbana participants to illistrate to them who they were to Join In with, partnering in the ministry of caring for those that are not able to care for themselves.  Afterwards, Shortie herself came on stage to thank Urbana personally (see that here) and she was greeted with a standing ovation.

photo by: Sean Hsueh

The participants heard a great testimony from Toby Capps, a pharmaceutical rep who helps provide low cost supplies for the kits, see that here.  They then proceed to pack these kits in shifts...including Shorty herself.  I swelled with pride and thankfulness as I just walked the dome, soaking in all that was happening...and occasionally lifting my camera to capture a little of the feeling.

Toby, Shorty, Faith, and Steve Haas (World Vision VP)

My largest project this last year was directing this Swaziland video project.  I lead a team of 7 others for an 11 day tour of the country.  When all was shot, and edited, we captured 11 stories for the Join In night at Urbana 12.  While most of the videos that we produced are not stand alone, a couple can be...enjoy.

More to come in part 2 and part 3 on the process of capturing these videos and my role as Director and Photographer...


Monday, January 7, 2013

Urbana 12 Video - Mr Eddie

Several months ago, I embarked on a solo trip to NY City for a video project. You can read that original post here.  But I was also able to glean a very usable alternative video for the recent Urbana Missions Conference as well as what i went to capture.  The video below may start out the same way as the original, but it goes in a completely different direction, a direction is fueled by a story that the participants at this recent Urbana studied the morning before they saw this;  read Luke 14:15-24, then watch:

Mr Eddie- Banquet from InterVarsity twentyonehundred on Vimeo.

Because we were already intimate with the themes and purpose of Urbana, I was able to recognize a key metaphorical (as well as literal) idea while filming Mr Eddie.  Talking with Mr Eddie as we shot helped develop themes and explore more avenues to pursue, namely his (now famous) last quote about hunger and wanting to be at the Banquet. The video may seem like I just shot him all day and he came up with all this by himself (well, a lot he did) but talking with the subject off camera usually can yield many new ways a video can lead.  In this case, it was during a subway ride.