Sunday, May 15, 2011

On new photos for the ward directory

Submitted to the chairperson of the communications committee in my singles ward:

One of the reasons I was called to be on the communications committee was so that I could put some of my talents to use for the good of our ward.

Our lesson today in Elders Quorum was on the subject of talents and how we can and should use them. I shared a thought that I learned from Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way." To paraphrase: Our talents are God's gift to us. Using our talents are our gift back to God.

This evening I home taught Bonni Duncan who spoke about the desire for consistency in regard to member photos in the ward directory. Hence the use of a plain white wall behind our members as we took their ward mugshot. Were this any other ward, I might agree with that.

But this isn't any other ward.

This is a ward created in the spirit of what practitioners of Judaism call "shidduchim." In other words, match-making. You remember the song from "Fiddler on the Roof," right? ;-) Of course, in LDS practice, we do not have "matchmakers" (though I'm sure we've all met some obnoxious married member--often a relative--who tries to take on that role), but we do cary on the spirit of the shidduch only in a more subtle and nuanced approach. Taking our member photos outside with natural light and varied backgrounds complements such nuance.

When we prepare a new ward directory, it shouldn't just be a collection of mug shots--which is pretty much what we have now--these should be portraits. Not glamor shots. Nothing unrealistic but something that is pleasant to behold. Something that shows that we aren't just cataloging the members as if they were livestock, we're spotlighting them. We who hold the cameras should be doing our best--using our talents--to make the subjects of these photos look not just recognizable but beautiful. Any schmuck can point a camera at a person in front of a blank wall and push a button. I'm not that shmuck--and no one else on the communications or photography committees should be either--that's why I insist on creating portraits when it's my turn to take new member photos and I'll be glad to do the same for any member of the ward who doesn't like the mug shot that they have now. I already took the liberty of replacing my own ward photo with one of my professional headshots. I think it's much more flattering than the head-on, smirking, almost goofy-looking picture I had before.

When someone in the ward is trying to put a name and face together and they turn to the directory, their reaction shouldn't be, "Ugh"--that's the reaction I had to my directory photo--it should be, "Wow! I want to meet this person." With the numbers in the ward growing so rapidly, a lot of people are going to be turning to the ward directory to get to know each other. We should do our best to make sure that they are represented with a photo that they like, instead of just a last-minute identifier that doesn't look any different from the picture on their drivers license?



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