I had the pleasure of photographing the Lutheran World Federation’s 12th Assembly in Namibia earlier this year. One thing I’ll take with me from that experience, is a moment of realization shooting evening service on the third day.
Starting out in photography, I worked hard to try to understand the principles of light, contrast, what causes flare, and so on, so as to achieve the technically best photos possible – those that are sharp, noise-free, and well-defined.
Specializing in photographing church contexts, however, I find perfect lighting conditions rarely apply, and what happened in Namibia was no exception. The worship tent was dark, very dark, but with strong light sources in select places, providing light to the altar and stage, the choir and musicians.
This was the third day, and so I had already shot most of the straightforward angles, and found the more convenient spots for a clean shot. So how could I find new perspectives, renew my photography shooting the same environment day after day?
I decided to drop the idea of perfect angles and convenient light, and to start looking at my photos not from a perspective of perfect-ness, but of whether they’re actually interesting photos of life at the Assembly.
It turns out these are some of my favorite shots from a dozen days of photography.
But what is more, going through my files from other occasions, I’ve since found interesting photos I had rejected, hid away in a drawer, based on technical standards that may not actually be what photography should be about.