This guest post is brought to us by Ron Offringa. Ron is one of my oldest friends, we just happened to start our friendship while he was one of my students. Check him out on Twitter or his work at the Android blog Droid-Life.
I love taking pictures with my iPhone. It’s super easy to use, and best of all, it consistently takes incredible images. I’m regularly blown away by how much detail my phone’s camera is able to capture. I’m also blown away by all the apps that are out there to edit and enhance photographs. Outside of the built in camera and photos apps, I regularly use Instagram, Path, Flickr, Over, Frontback, Snapseed, Big Lens, and Camera Noir to take and enhance the pictures I take with my phone. On top of all of those apps, I obsess about how to manage and store all of the photos I take.
This past year I’ve been learning as much as I can about film photography. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures with my iPhone, but I wanted to try using film. My dad gave me my mother’s old Yashica MG-1 and I started shooting. The Yashica MG-1 is a rangefinder, which means when I look through the viewfinder I’m looking above the lens, not through the lens. Almost everything on this camera is manual, including focus, ISO settings for the film (which is called ASA on the camera because it’s so old), advancing the film, and aperture (how much light goes through the lens and hits the film). In fact, the only thing that I can’t control manually is the shutter speed.
It’s a lot of fun to use, but there’s a big risk involved with film: I never know what kind of photograph I’m going to get. If my settings are wrong then the moment will be lost and I won’t be able to do anything about it. On my iPhone (or any modern digital camera) I can instantly see what my photo will look like and adjust accordingly. On my iPhone I can tap to focus instead of lining up a small yellow diamond in the rangefinder to determine focus. On my iPhone I can also take hundreds of photographs in a short period of time, whereas my Yashica is limited to the rolls of film I have with me. So why would I want to use the Yashica if the iPhone is so much easier to use and lessens the risk of losing a moment?
I think that kind of question is similar to asking why someone would want to read about theology or go on a mission trip or ask for more gifts of the Spirit. Isn’t going to church on Sundays enough? It’s easy to do and there’s really not much risk involved.
If you try to learn more about theology then you might find yourself changing your mind about what you believe. Worse yet, you might learn some things that change the way you love and worship God. If you go on a mission trip then you might feel guilty for living in America and owning a smartphone. If you ask the Spirit for more gifts then you might have to actually use them in ministry situations.
The truth is, I could keep taking great pictures on my iPhone, but if I never learned how to use a ‘real’ camera then I would probably have never learned about things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, lighting, and more. I wouldn’t be able to become a better photographer and I certainly wouldn’t learn to value capturing a specific moment in time.
The same is true with our religion. If we just show up to church and never pursue the depths of God, then we won’t grow in our relationship and love for God. Things will just stay the same. We won’t continue to become like Jesus through the work of the Spirit. That doesn’t mean that if you don’t get a Masters of Divinity, get a passport, or speak in tongues that you don’t love Jesus, but if we aren’t always moving deeper into the mysteries of God then we can’t say that we’re really pursuing him. We can’t say that we truly love God if we don’t spend time getting to know him and doing the things that he has called us to do.
No matter where we are in our pursuit of holiness, there is always room to grow. There will never be a day when I can set my Yashica MG-1 down because I’ve learned everything about photography. I’ll never take all the photographs. We need to continue to pursue God with everything we have. There are risks involved, but he’s worth it.