Every year, the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference provides the opportunity for photographers all around the world to interact and engage with professionals who believe photojournalism is a calling and the act of bearing witness is important. We look forward to a time of learning, growing and fellowshipping with one another.
The genesis of the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference grew out of a desire for photographers working in the Southern Baptist agencies around the country to get together, share our work, stories and support one another. There was a small band of us back some 30 years ago and we treasured the fun and support when we got together. As our little group grew we wanted to expand the fellowship and gathering with other photographers. From the very first the deal was that our egos were left at the door! The conference grew organically, attracting others by both the spirit and the level of professionalism.
Today as the conference keeps expanding we come together to hear about other’s adventures, spiritual challenges, growth and blessings. We learn that we are not alone in our journey. We receive encouragement, prayers, and gentle counseling. Many of us experience an “Ah Ha” moment at some point during the conference. SWPJC is a gathering of both the experienced and the budding photographer. Each learns from the other.
One of the most meaningful parts of my journey as a young photographer was the other photographers and editors that took the time to mentor and help me. My first “real” job as a photographer was with the International Mission Board. Staff photographer Don Rutledge and Commission Magazine editor, Dan Beatty, spent many hours looking at my work and offering guidance. If I can approach the level of time and commitment to other photographers on a similar journey I will feel like I have made a contribution. I owe much to these gentle men.
Some of my favorite time at the SWPJC is when we are just sitting around talking with each other – both the joking and laughter as well as discussing the struggles we have had and sharing our hopes and dreams. I love huddling over a cup of coffee and finding out what’s been going on with my long time friends. One-on-one with students and young photographers has it’s own reward. The combinations of interactions and connections made are restorative to the spirit.
SWPJC continues to offer an environment of caring and learning; a coming together of photographers who want to make a difference with their work and strive to serve.
It may sound odd to seek the Lord at a conference, but SWPJC is no ordinary gathering. It’s a place where I enjoy fellowshipping with His people, get a perspective on how photography is a vocation AND ministry, and commune with Him as I walk on campus.
May I invite you to join a host of CIPers and other photographers at SWPJC… I’d enjoy meeting you and praying with you.