Since I was in High School, I’ve been involved in an organization called Young Life. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up! It’s an awesome faith based organization that has staff and local groups (called clubs) in over 100 countries world wide and is all about doing life together with students of all ages and walks of life. This spring I had the opportunity to help lead a trip to the Young Life camp in the Dominican Republic, Pico Escondido. For some stories and posts from our trip, take a look at our team blog here.
The month of March, especially in Michigan, is almost always dreary and gray and wet and cold. It’s usually my slowest month for photography, and it’s always one of my most discouraging months of the year. Not only was this trip to the DR a life-giving experience for me as a Young Life-er and a lover of travel and culture, but it was a refreshing time as a photographer.
Part of my role as a team leader was to photograph the trip and our experiences in the DR. It was so amazing to use my passions and gifts in such an adventurous time! I first used a DSLR camera on a trip to India in high school, and it was love at first click. Photographing the colors, the faces, the ever-churning sea of people and cows and rickshaws and palms… all these things stole my heart in India. I got to be that photographer again in the DR a couple weeks ago. Victor Hugo wrote, “to travel is to be born and to die at every instant.” No, taking photos doesn’t mean that I get to forever hold onto the new experiences I’m born into through travel. The scenes of school kids we drove by in the bus, the homes I peeked into as we walked down the slender sidewalks, the smell of the humid jungle we hiked through to find the waterfall, the feeling of my small soft plastic cup in my fingers full of steaming dark Dominican coffee… Those moments must die as soon as they’re born because there is life and a whole world in them that I can’t take away with me. But photographs remind me of the new life I had in those moments, and the ways that I am forever changed by them.