How to begin? The First Steps…

Last Month, we talked about the “Why?” behind starting your church photography team. This month, we will dive into the “How?”.

Every church has a group of amazing volunteers, and within that circle is what is called a “Creative Crowd.” And within that crowd, is your foundation for your volunteer photography team.

I am a part of an incredible church, Elevation Church, based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. And at each of our 17 locations, we have a volunteer photography team. Each team is equipped with a Coordinator, a Team Leader, and a various number of talented photographers who bring in their equipment each day to capture and document everything that is happening, from setting up to prayer huddles to the worship on stage and everything backstage. We document from A to Z, show up 2 hours before the experience (service) and stay an hour after to edit and upload our images. We do give this time to dedicate to serving Jesus, our church, and others and help provide images of what God is doing in and through us at our church so our staff and coordinators can use these on their social media streams and our website to help show others how God is moving and changing lives.

In the world of Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook, we have an huge opportunity to do just that, and do it well through our volunteer photographers. Here are three ways to get you started in building your church photography team…

  1. Throughout the year, hold a class for those people who are interested in joining your photography team. Have them sign up to show them where the heart and vision of the church is and how this team will help move that purpose forward. If a person has a creative eye and equipment that they have been using to pursue that passion, then most likely they have a calling in it. God gives each one of us gifts, talents, and passions to help us pursue our calling. And we can use that calling to help equip our churches with the resources they need to help reach people for the body of Christ. Identify a professional photographer within that group to install as a leader to help grow the team’s knowledge of equipment, editing, and how to capture stories in photos.
  2. I know how amazing the new iPhone 8’s portrait mode is. I’ve seen it. It’s incredible. And it makes us feel like amazing photographers when we use it. However, it’s not quite the equipment that’s going to give us the same quality of images as a DSLR will when we are shooting indoors, or in low light conditions. And know that when choosing your team, the ones who have invested in their equipment are pretty serious about their art and have the knowledge to help train people and provide endless creative ideas. For that reason, photography members must bring each time they serve: 1) A DSLR camera- to capture indoor/outdoor/action/still photos, 2) Laptop- to edit photos while you are at church to get them uploaded as quickly as possible, 3) Adobe Lightroom- the best program to edit and export photos in low and high res, import Metadata, and save photos.
  3. Being a part of the photography team is not only a way to use the gifts that God gave you to serve the church and Him with, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity to connect with other creatives and learn skills from them to help make you a better photographer. Allow your photo team leaders to use their knowledge to pour into their team with training nights and fun outings that inspire their teams to come together and be closer, but also to learn new ways to shoot, edit, and create. Bring in other professionals to give the team inspiration, and feed them! Gratitude is never silent. You have volunteers who are not only donating their time, but also their expensive equipment and talent. Honoring people is what we want our photography team to do for others, and what we want to do for them as well.

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