What can I say about this group of people? These are people I never expected. People I never thought I could become so close with in such a short amount of time… People that meet weekly to talk about photography, about Jesus and share life together… I’d say, why didn’t we think of this sooner? This community has changed my life.
The first time Vision Collective met, there was instant connection. I mean we all love photography, sure, but these people weren’t just photography lovers. These individuals wanted to use their passion of photography to acclaim the name of Jesus and allow real relationships to form through pictures. It’s so exciting to see Jesus working through this craft.
This group…I love these people. The idea of Vision Collective is so simple – people doing what they love and just doing it together.
I remember in June of last year, fighting the idea of starting a group. I didn’t think I was capable, or that me of all people could start something like this. I am the type that gets really nervous talking in groups bigger than five. I told myself that I could never do something like this. I told myself that I would look stupid, that I’d screw up…I’m thankful those lies didn’t win. Thank you Jesus for not letting those lies hold me down.
God kept telling me that I could. He didn’t let me forget about this photography idea. He did not give up on me even though I really wanted Him to. I wanted Him to forget the whole thing. (funny right?)
It cracks me up to think that I thought God would just forget about it. Well, he sure didn’t forget. He kept pushing me until I finally shared my idea with my husband and sister-in-law.
When I finally shared my idea and spoke it into existence (instead of it just being in my head) things started to come together and I gained more confidence in the idea.
I didn’t feel paralyzed and felt that I could now be held accountable by my husband and sister-in-law. I will never be able to explain my greatfulness of their dedication to seeing me through the proper steps of planning and prayer.
Six months of planning, planning, planning… Then on January 28th, our first meeting… I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It made perfect sense. It was easy to have real conversation with people I met 2 minutes prior.
To have people feel like instant friends was so driven by God. That’s the only explanation.
I started this group because I felt the nudge to do so and because photography is such a huge part of my life. I saw that there weren’t many creative communities in the area. I wanted to do life with other photographers, to learn from them and bounce ideas off of one another.
I wanted community. I felt a lack of it in my own life. God answered that prayer and worked on me in a ways I didn’t expect. He gave me Hannah, Ryan, Kristen, Tina, Delana, Kaitlyn, Jared and Mario. These people are so special to me.
God wasn’t asking me to join, He was asking me to start. I’m so glad that I eventually did. I’m grateful that our God constantly runs after us and equips us with the things we need.
Remember how I said I was an anxious person? That first meeting I was the polar opposite of my anxious self. I had God-given confidence, allowing me to present my ideas well and with clarity (happy dance)!
I wasn’t nervous. I just talked about what I loved: Jesus and photography. I still almost tear up when I think about those first stories we shared at our first Vision Collective meeting.
So what about the members of this group? How can I even start to write about them? These are some of the coolest, most passionate people I have ever met in my entire life.
They love this little thing called photography, but they don’t stop there. They use photography as a service to others. The coolest combination, right?
My friends are my prayer partners and they are constantly looking for ways to help. They are servants. The ideas they shared that first night at group are ingrained in my brain:
“I want to use photography to tell people that they’re beautiful.”
“We want to be actively involved in the homeless community in Carbondale and use photography to help.”
“I want to take pictures of people that can’t afford it and give them prints for free.”
“I want to learn more about my camera so I can do newborn shoots.”
“Let’s use photography as a tool to help other communities flourish and start over.”
“I think photography can be used to serve the SIU campus and join together it’s artists.”
“I want to be in community with other photographers, serve Carbondale and glorify Jesus through all of it.”
How awesome are my friends? How inspiring are their ideas? God has given them each desires that we are now celebrating together! As a community, we get to join in on every step of the process! Different, yet with one focus.
Thanks to my friends for pushing me to be better in my craft, better in my service and better in my worship.
Pray for us that we will continue to stay true to our vision, exalt our Creator, share the Gospel and meet more and more creatives in Southern Illinois!
We look to Jesus as our ultimate creative. Look around us! Have you seen Giant City or Ferne Clyffe?
Vision Collective trusts that God will always be working in our area! We love you, Southern Illinois!