A couple months after we got married, we went to India. (Not something we'd planned on doing right after becoming newlyweds, but we had no idea at the time that we'd be getting married so soon). We went with a group of 16 of the best of people--young & wise, older & wise, young & hilarious.

We had a whirlwind 24-hour layover in China, and then ended up in Kolkata, where worked at a church called the Grace Community Center. Spent several days teaching computer classes, English classes, and getting to fall in love with and wrangle kids in their daycare or "creche" for children (many of whom would be running wild on the streets while their parents were at work if not for the church's ministry). After a few days of that, we went to the Sundarban Islands, where it feels like you've stepped back a couple thousand years, and where some people have never seen a single person with white skin; We did street evangelism there--preaching, skits, lots of singing (even some beautiful Bengali songs we had learned), a call to faith, and prayed with them and then passed out Bibles & stickers for the mobs of kids at the end.

Having managed not to get bitten by one of the terrifying bugs found in the jungle area hostels we stayed at, and unfortunately/fortunately not having spotted a Bengal tiger, we made it back to the city. Back at the church, we started into the Vacation Bible School--mobs of excited and listening beautiful faces, lots of singing, flannel graphs, skits, crafts, and chaos. Some of the hardest work I've ever done. In between everything, we had some time for exploring Kolkata (the Victoria Memorial, Mother Teresa's house, etc) and plenty of thrilling bus rides.

It's been something hard to explain, like most out-of-country, eye-opening things. Thankfully, Peter made this video, which is a way to show people who've asked "how was it?" a little bit of what it was like. Since "it was amazing! and a lot of things!" isn't the most helpful of explanations. I always feel like, with a trip, you can either tell someone everything, or you can just say "it was good." Most people do not want to hear everything, but "it was good" doesn't exactly do it justice either. Therefore: videos and pictures. It was also the kind of trip where so many completely foreign things were happening all the time, that it's hard to actually process what's happened until later, which I don't think I have quite yet. 

It was challenging, it was exhausting, eye-opening, it shocked our cynicism with the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in the people we talked to. I wanted to bring home about 25 kids, and will never forget their joy and generosity--especially Puja, who kept bringing me candy and flowers from her home in the slums. So thankful for an once-in-a-lifetime trip with such an amazing group, and for the opportunity to fellowship with the most hardworking and servant-hearted Christians in the church in Kolkata. 

Growing Stronger

We live in a fast-paced time. With smart phones, twitter, instagram, facebook, and all the other social platforms, news travels fast. Information in general is produced and shared faster then ever before. As a society, it seems if things break, it’s easier and faster just to replace it and not bother with trying to fix it. Again--why waste time, we spend literal minutes surfing from webpage to webpage gathering a plethora of data.

Let me elaborate--in terms of your abilities and skills I think it is very similar. We start taking music lessons, and when we feel we are not getting there fast enough, we stop and give up. When we start working out and don’t lose those 50 lbs in two weeks, we give up. We start a job that we are passionate about, and when we don’t feel we are growing or not at the level we want now, we throw it away and replace it with something new. We are not always passionate or “in love” with the things in life (i.e work, music lessons, art lessons, relationships). If you persevere and nurture and invest time into those things, instead of just replacing them, you will actually grow and be more rewarded.

First off, I take a lot of pictures (if you don’t know that, you have not surfed my web page). In so doing I gravitate towards other great photographers' work. They inspire, help educate, and even further my skills as a photographer. Sadly, all the reading and portfolio viewing also frightens, frustrates, and discourages me in my work. I see their amazing work and then look at mine and feel like my work is garbage.

How can this be--my photography is getting “better”, yet I feel I am getting worse? My Dad once told me a story of an art professor, who on the first day of class told everyone to draw their best piece of work, then put that work in their binder. Most of the classmates were proud of the work they did. After the year was over, he had them do the same assignment using all the new skills they had learned over the course. Then he had them all take out their original work in the beginning of the year and compare. To no one's surprise the latter was much better than the first. Yet some were not happy with their second piece--yes, it was better, but they felt it did not meet their “new” standard. This is because their “eye” had developed further than their skill level. This is not bad in itself. Having a trained eye and knowing what is “good” work is very helpful, but it can just be very discouraging at times.

Similarly, like the students in class, I felt way more proud and excited of my work when I first started out in photography. Today I look back and am sometimes shocked I even thought any of those pictures were “good”. It’s not to say I am never proud of my work, but I am sometimes my toughest critic. The moment you ever think you have “made it,” or achieved the level of perfection, is when I think you have lost. Skill is something we always continue to grow in, so keep learning. Don’t get discouraged--instead, look back on your old work and be encouraged that you are still moving up the skill chain.

I debated showing you this below album because I think it’s so bad, but this is one of my first wedding albums and weddings I have ever done. I have it displayed in my room to remind me of where I have come from, to help remind me to keep on growing, keep pushing, and keep trying harder things. “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” Peter Marshall


I long to create images that express a true emotion for the viewer. I was captivated with this aspect of photography and this is what drives me to push on. I have a vision for that picture, now I strive to make that vision a reality.