“Lights, camera, action!” Not quite, but we look at City Harvest Church’s very own men in black as they move about unseen, silently producing startling images of church life.
Contributed by Gary Sim
And contrary to what you might believe, this doesn’t distract someone like Goh Yock Kiang, a district pastor in the church. Rather, it assures him that the photographers of the CHC Photography Ministry are there “capturing the moment.”
Sharing at the ministry’s Appreciation Night on Jan. 14, Goh emphasized—coincidentally this is also the ministry’s motto—how important this was. “If you were not there to witness a particular moment, then that moment is lost,” he said. However, the moment can be captured and retained in a photograph.
Indeed, the CHC Photography Ministry serves as the eyes of the church, helping to document and publicize the different activities of CHC and all its ministries impacting Singapore and the world.
Chief photographer Michael Chan says, “Our goal is to inspire and touch the lives of those among us, through the images we capture.”
Having the ability to take photos is one thing, but Chan maintains that being in the Photography Ministry goes beyond taking snapshots. He explains, “More than just taking lots and lots of photos of everything around, we want our photos to strike a chord in everyone who looks at them.”
“That’s why we always depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us to take such photos that impact lives,” he adds.
|CN PHOTOS: Daniel Poh and Michael Chan
THE IMPACT OF A PHOTOGRAPH
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The Photography Ministry knows how important this is. At the dinner, Chan reminded all the photographers of the Bible verse, Genesis 15:5, in which God gave Abraham, a vision, or an image if you will, of how many descendants he would have. So whenever he was discouraged, all Abraham had to do was to look at the stars.
“Our photos can help believers focus on the promises of God to them. When they are discouraged, they can be reminded of God’s promises and goodness,” says Chan.
He recalled a huge Reinhard Bonnke crowd poster in a prayer room during CHC’s early years. “We would always look at the poster and pray, asking God for growth and revival. Now we are a very big church, and I’m thankful to that photographer who took the picture,” Chan shares.
SHOOTING IN THE DARK
Taking photos during the different services is still an art—of not being seen, yet being able to be at the right spot to capture the right images. Chan notes that even as services or events carry on, the photographers take great pains not to distract the speaker or the congregation in any way in any part of the meeting.
“That’s also why we wear black,” explains Chan with a laugh.
Yet, the ministry has to grow with the church. From its humble beginnings of one or two people, the ministry has grown to almost 70 strong, which includes professional photographers, lecturers, executives and even teachers.
The use of the photographs have also evolved, and are now utilized for a wide range of purposes like the various posters and brochures, the CHC website, its affiliated organizations, the church magazine Harvest Times (which stopped publication in January 2010) and now City News Weekly. There have also been times that the guest speakers have requested for their photos taken in CHC as well.
City News Weekly has opened a whole new world for many people in the ministry as it involves news photography, a very different aspect altogether. “So it’s a good thing we have a couple of professionals with us to teach us the ropes,” says Chan.
Presently, there are five teams of volunteers shuttling between Jurong West and Expo for the different services on the weekends. There are also various events and activities both within and outside the church that the ministry has to cover.
“In a way, there’s also a lot of on-the-job training,” notes one team leader. “We can teach them the basics of photography, and give them as much guidance as possible, but in the end, it’s always about experience.”
The ministry has learned a lot through its own experience, from moving out from under the umbrella of the TV Ministry to a ministry on its own, and through running a news room for the past two Asia Conferences. At any one time, there were at least 10 photographers about, covering the various talks, events and sessions.
Yuan Wenling, the head of the ministry hopes that it will grow to 150 volunteers this year. “It doesn’t matter if you have no background in photography. As long as you have an interest, you can be used by God in the ministry,” Yuan encourages.
The Photography Ministry is open to all—anyone can join as long as he or she has a working camera and a heart for serving.
“We’ll teach you the rest,” says Chan with a smile.
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