Friday, December 7, 2007

Coming home

I came across this church on the way into Dallas from DFW. I think it is called Trinity Ministry Broadcasting. There were a bunch of buildings in the complex along with a virtual realty tour and a production facility. I spent a couple days shooting it.

The first day I parked a mile away and lugged my equipment across a series of medians and gullies. I was convinced the church had a ton of security and did not allow any one to photograph let alone park nearby. The next day I just parked in the church parking lot and walked around.

Shooting landscapes means you spend alot of time waiting for light. Often I will have to wait for a couple hours for a shadow to move or for the sun to get where I like it. In Dallas it got me thinking about my own church experience.

As a kid I was in a boys choir for 10 years at an Episcopal church up the street from our house in Baltimore. I was raised an atheist and spent the $10/month I was paid on candy and Dungeons and Dragons figures. My brother and I would go into the church so he could play the massive organ while I photographed him. He went on to get a Phd in Music theory and I can still barely carry a tune. During rehearsals and performance the choir leader would always make wild hand gestures at me to indicate it might be best if I sang more softly or better yet mouthed the words.

Many years later I found myself at a different church: The Oakland Coliseum. My girlfriend at the time (now wife) and I had decided to" take a break" and I was in a world of pain. I was lost and was searching for something to hold on to. I saw a billboard on the highway saying that Billy Graham was coming for a three day revival. In the Bay Area you are more likely to have some one admit to having a special relationship with a farm animal then admit to being born again.

I sat way up high on Mt Al Davis, hundreds of rows above the field and waited for him to speak. I had to sit through Christian boy bands , rock-bands and the worst: Christian rap. Finally way down on the filed I saw a man with silver hair whizzing toward the stage in the passenger seat of a golf cart. The Reverend Billy Graham.

He was an amazing speaker and told the story of his religious conversion as a boy. He told how he found Jesus and how it changed his life. He then invited any one of us 60,000 poor souls who wanted to turn his life over to Jesus to come forward. And slowly like little ants approaching an ant hill I saw hundreds of people moving foreword. And I felt the pull. Here was an answer to all my problems and here were all these other people who seemed to think Jesus was the answer.

But I couldn't do it. I had no connection to Jesus and never considered myself a Christian nor had I ever read the Bible.

So I climbed off Mt Davis, got back on the BART and over time repaired the relationship with my future wife. Years later we have four children and some kind of faith in something out there.

Sometimes when I am driving alone through the central valley coming back from LA I turn on AM radio until I come across a preacher talking about Jesus and I feel the pull and think about those ants heading home to the hill...


bob said...

nice. do you show this type of work in your advertising portfolio? or just the more commercial looking people/composite work?

Troy House said...

Amazing post Thomas!

Darrell Eager said...

I've noticed on many of your posts showing some of your raw 4x5's there's a brown stain around the edges, almost like a chemical stain. What's that from?

Robert Holmgren said...

Thanks for the heartfelt posting. We struggle to come to terms with the reality of our temporal nature as if it was a part of our DNA coding. said...


It is funny you ask. The plan is to start including some of this new work in the portfolio .I am anxious to see how it is recieved.


That is just the plastic sleeve the film is contacted through.

Robert and Troy-

Thanks for the props.

chris said...

I remember my friend Randy, he was the most naturally gifted muscian I had ever met. All four Beatles in one man. He was on a major christian rock band label and had his own crazy hotel stories that usually went something like; cookies and Coke/Pepsi, bible readings, group prayer and goofy jokes late night at dennys over Moons-over-my-hammy.
He had taken me to a massive concert, turned church retreat...There was incredible energy, people everywhere looking towards there neighbor with good cheer. At some point there was the call to the stage for those souls that needed to be saved. The call of the ants.
I rememeber most Randy starting to tear up as I resisted, at some point he grabs my hand and asks me to join him in prayer at the stage.
Randy was / is a good guy. I am not, nor am I saved.
Thanks Thomas for the great shots and sharing your thoughts.

bob said...

its been my experience that the art buyers + other creative types enjoy seeing it, but the clients don't get it and just wonder why you're taking photos of nativity scene in front of a church...

Prayerfully Yours said...

Thomas, God is calling you...what will it take for you to respond? We are all given those obvious times in our lives where God clearly calls, He wants us all to Know, Love and Serve Him. I can here in your beautiful story, that you long to know Him in your life, that He has given you chances, don't be afraid. Be blessed, let your family be blessed. Go to Church, Read the Bible, Pray, and Praise Him for the Talent He has given you. Do it today...God Bless!