Guest post by Julie Deuink
Instant Polaroid camera. Remember those? I had a Polaroid camera back when they were new and cool—point the camera, push a button, and a fuzzy, out-of-focus picture emerged from the camera. It was always amazing to me, watching the picture develop as I waited, a wonderful capture of the moment just experienced. Back then, before digital photography, seeing your picture in moments, not days, was really something special!
While the students involved in the photography camp held by Silent Images and Church at Charlotte this summer didn’t use Polaroid cameras, the memory of those developing Polaroid pictures provides a connecting visual for me.
The camp week began with a welcome to a group of students who were diverse in every way. Girls and guys. Middle school and high school students. Introverts and extroverts. Members of our church and not. Public school, private school, home school. In every way, each participant was unique and individual. The picture before me was just out of the camera, blurry and fuzzy.
Devotions each morning, followed by instructional lessons prepared the students to engage that learning and take pictures using their creativity and talent. As an adult chaperone for the camp, I enjoyed the opportunity to observe and interact with them, seeing firsthand their progress as the days progressed. Their creativity was stunning. And gratefully, their progress wasn’t limited to their photography skills. Shy students opened up. New friendships formed. Racial lines blurred. Trust developed. Creativity blossomed. And like those old Polaroid pictures, each student was developing – coming into focus—before my eyes.
I’d like to say that I saw the finished fully-focused picture by the end of the week. But the process of developing takes time. Every participant of the camp learned details about photography and exhibited creativity capturing mundane objects in fresh and innovative ways. The display of their talent will be in our art gallery soon. But more importantly, each one also heard the truth of a sovereign God intimately aware and engaged with every detail of their lives, a God willing to meet them in the moment with saving grace. I hope each of them also experienced Christian community, a feeling of belonging, of love and encouragement in their accomplishments and in their struggles. That was our goal. Not just learning about lines and lighting, focus and perspective, but experiencing the love of Jesus through His people. So yeah, my old Polaroid provided me a wonderful lesson. We are each like a Polaroid picture, slowly developing. The beautiful, fully developed image is there, waiting to emerge. May we, as a church, choose to see those around us with a sense of wonder and expectation.
Photography from these young artists will be on display in the Church at Charlotte Gallery beginning August 21. The Through Our Eyes exhibit shows the city of Charlotte and its vicinity from the perspective of the students who participated. An opening Gala Event will be on August 21 at 6:30 p.m.