Meet Storyteller Rose Finley

I first met Rose Finley on our Storytellers Abroad workshop in Nicaragua. Rose is such a joy to be around. While she is quiet she does love to laugh.

Rose talking with missionary. [NIKON D7100, 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/6.3, 1/60]

If Rose was not working on her project by herself she was listening. She is a person of few words. You can see her listening with not just her ears but her eyes.

Whenever I talked with Rose I always felt I had her full attention.

[NIKON D7100, 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/80]

You can see during her interview how focused she was with the subject. Rose cares deeply about people and making them feel appreciated.

Rose is getting input on her story from ABWE missionary Evelyn Stone. [Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, ISO 1600, ƒ/4.5, 1/60]

Rose is also very independent. I would have to seek her out and ask if I could help. If I didn’t ask I think she would have not wanted to bother me or the other teachers. She did however ask for help in translation from Spanish to English.

Rose works with ABWE missionary and seminary professor Dave Stone on the translation.[NIKON D7100, 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 640, ƒ/4, 1/80]

Listen to the story that Rose captured of Carol Banda.

If you want to learn how to do storytelling like Rose please consider joining us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storytellers Marissa Dickey and Jamie Gessner

Both Marissa Dickey and Jamie Gessner are ABWE Career Missionaries serving in Colombia, South America.

When Jeff Raymond and I went on our scouting trip to Lima in October we talked with Evelyn Stone the founder of the prenatal center and ABWE missionary where she mentioned that Maricielo had just had her baby just a couple days before we arrived.

We knew right away that this was a powerful story. In Peru abortions are illegal. However, 80% of all women have had an abortion according to Evelyn Stone the director of the prenatal center.

[L to R] Marissa Dickey, James Dockery and Jamie Gessner go over the edits on Maricielo’s story. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [X-E3, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/5, 1/38, Focal Length = 35]

The purpose of telling Maricielo’s story was to show how many women end up coming to the prenatal center for counseling and help.

Listen to Maricielo and her family tell their story.

Both Marissa and Jamie are fluent in Spanish and English. This made it much easier for them to do the story because they didn’t need translators. Can you imagine everything someone says has to be translated and then everything you say is translated. That takes a lot longer to just have a normal conversation.

[L to R]James Dockery telling stories, with Marissa, Jamie and Jeff Raymond during the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [X-E3, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 4000, ƒ/7.1, 1/100, Focal Length = 27]

Marissa and Jamie asked every instructor for input on the story. Then they sat together and tried to take all that input and craft a stronger story. The hardest part for them was cutting parts out.

They realized that while some of the great quotes were powerful they were often repetitive.

When you would hear them talking on the last day of editing they were trying there best to keep you the audience engaged and hoping through telling of Maricielo’s story that you would consider getting involved with the prenatal center.

If you want to learn how to do storytelling like Marissa and Jamie did here consider joining us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storyteller Stephanie Simmons

[photo above is of the seminary night classes that share the space with a school]

Jorge Quintana is a seminary student that storyteller Stephanie Simmons was given to tell his story.

See the story she captured here.

Stephanie has lots of positive energy. She is always smiling.

Stephanie Simmons. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

What I admired the most about Stephanie was her focus. She wanted to learn.

[X-E3, XF55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 5000, ƒ/7.1, 1/100, Focal Length = 300]

When I talked to her about her story before she did the interview I could tell she had listened to the subjects. I could tell she cared for them and being sure she would stay true to the story.

[X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/7.1, 1/100, Focal Length = 36]

Now I love to watch people and just observe them. I noticed Stephanie would be on the edges of the group participating but also listening.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

When the instructors were meeting each night to see who might need more help the next day on their stories, we all talked about how Stephanie welcomed ideas and was so eager to learn.

If you want to learn how to tell a missions story like Stephanie join us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storyteller Jay York

Jay York working on his story for the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 32000, ƒ/6.3, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

I have known Jay York for years. We met at the Southwestern Photojournalism Seminar in Fort Worth, Texas. Jay was using his vacations to photograph for the ABWE.

Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/800, Focal Length = 35]

Many years ago photographers volunteered their time to help ABWE missionaries by taking photos of work around the world that went into a database. During the film years missionaries would have to go to Harrisburg, PA offices and look through all the 35mm slides and get copies to use in their slide shows that they showed to churches and supporters when they were on furlough.

Jay York and translator Andrea Carhuachîn. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 51200, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 62]

During our week in Lima, Peru Jay worked on a story about Elvira Cuevas Bolívar. Here is the package that Jay produced.

Jay worked methodically not only in being sure he understood Elvira’s story, which is much bigger than told in this package, but to work with three instructors Pat Davison, James Dockery and myself.

Jay York’s Story on Elvira Cuevas with Andrea Carhuachîn serving as translator. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2200, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

Jay wanted to understand every aspect of the storytelling process.

Elvira Cuevas – Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 4500, ƒ/4.5, 1/200, Focal Length = 68]

Just a couple months before the trip Jay switched camera systems to the Fuji mirrorless system. Jay shot most of this project on the Fuji X-T3.

Jay York with Elvira Cuevas and her son Chris. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4.5, 1/200, Focal Length = 68]

If you want to learn how to tell a missions story like Jay join us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storyteller Josh Hart

Josh Hart Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0 , ISO 28800, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

Mr. Positivity is how I would describe Josh Hart. He was the first person to introduce himself to me when I first met the group in Lima, Peru. He was eager to learn and had a wonderful smile.

We spent time sitting by his computer and talking about his story on Darwin and Azucena Diaz. He went out and interviewed them and then the next day I was able to go with Josh as he spent more time getting B-Roll.

In film and television production, B-roll, B roll, B-reel or B reel is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot. 

Here is the story that Josh produced during his week in Lima, Peru.

Josh Hart’s story on Darwin & Vanessa Diaz. He is a teacher at the Iglesia Evangelica Bautista “Las Flores” in San Juan de Lurigancho area of Lima, Peru. To the left is ABWE missionary Jon Stone who teaches at the seminary. During our time in Lima Jon was a translator, driver, food coordinator and more for the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640, Focal Length = 28]

Each student had time with their subjects at a meal with everyone when we arrived. The the following day they hung out with them again getting to know them better.

Josh Hart’s story on Darwin & Vanessa Diaz. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640, Focal Length = 28]

Josh loves technology and shot his interviews in 4k. If you are not a geek that just means he shot them video with a very high resolution camera. This way he could shoot the couple side by side and then just zoom in on one person at a time. This made it possible to shoot with one camera but get some variety our of the interview.

While working together shooting his B-Roll I just hung back and watched. Since he had told me what he was wanting to capture I would just add suggestion when he ran out of ideas.

Josh Hart’s story on Darwin & Vanessa Diaz. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640, Focal Length = 28]

The one thing I was helping with Josh on was how to put into words his direction to the couple and translator what he needed next. He could tell them he needed them to walk in a direction, but he was having a hard time to tell them what they should be thinking about when they were being filmed.

“We are capturing you when you come to the church and have to take the taxi and unlock the building. I need you to do this a few times so I can film you from your front, back and side. Just do what you do every day when you make this trip.”

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640, Focal Length = 28]

“I want to capture the two of you doing a bible study together that you talked about in the interview. Find a passage you guys have been working on together. I need you both to talk back and forth.”

If you want to learn how to tell a missions story like Josh join us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Shocking Blog Stats

So I was working on my resume which some clients were wanting when I was asked by a friend about my blog. I had not really put this into my resume.

He pointed out that I had a pretty wide reach. So I started to dig into the Google Analytics. My Analytics includes my website & blog. Most of the traffic is going to the blog since that is new content.

The map above just shows the past couple of years of the countries that have visited my blog. I think the reach is greater if I go back to when I started in 2006, but I changed from blogger to wordpress and lost some of those stats.

192 countries I had visiting the blog over the last two years.

I had over 81,000 new users. WOW! I was shocked. On average when they visited they went to about 4 different pages.

They were translating my page into 151 different languages.

Click on this chart to see it larger

My top ten posts tend to be where people are looking for camera settings or technical blogs. Users were spending about 5:44 on “Nikon D5 Sports Settings”. I can understand why. That camera has a menu that resembles the cockpit of a jetliner.

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

John Wooden

How do you toot your own horn without coming off as cocky? You want to showcase your best accomplishments on your resume so that they are right there in black and white. If you do this right then they will pop out and really help to separate you from the pack. This isn’t bragging but rather helping to show that you truly are the right candidate for the job.

What I discovered in polishing my resume was to find someone who really knows you to review it. It helps if they are good in communications.

What I am discovering is that I have been hurting myself because I was taking for granted some of my biggest accomplishments.

Another huge thing I learned is I was thinking too much about the details and not enough about broad brush strokes of what my skills were beyond just photography.

After a lot of self examination this week I recommend you do the same. Revising your resume is a good exercise to help you know what value to bring to the table. It is a good thing to do to start off the year. It helps you celebrate your accomplishments and evaluate your weaknesses that you might want to work on this year.

Nikon Z6 & Fuji X-E3 Contemporary Worship Service

Photo Above Data [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0 ART, ISO 16000, ƒ/6.3, 1/200, Focal Length = 95]

Contemporary Service at Roswell Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Roswell, GA. [NIKON Z 6, , ISO 51200, ƒ/4, 1/80, Focal Length = 24]

I have owned the Fuji X-E series cameras a few years. I love them. Then I bought the Nikon Z6 to be able to shoot mirrorless with some of my Nikon glass.

Contemporary Service at Roswell Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Roswell, GA. [NIKON Z 6, , ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 105]

I think the Fuji X-E3 compares pretty good to the Nikon Z6. I like that the Fuji X-E3 when you are close to someone will not only find their face but their eyes as well. 

Contemporary Service at Roswell Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Roswell, GA. [X-E3, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 800, ƒ/4.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 300]

Now the Nikon Z6 camera automatically detects the subject and selects the focus area. At default settings, the camera gives priority to portrait subjects; if a portrait subject is detected, the selected subject will be indicated by a yellow border (if multiple faces are detected, you can choose your subject using the multi selector). 

Contemporary Service at Roswell Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Roswell, GA. [X-E3, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 1000, ƒ/4, 1/125, Focal Length = 143]

Just so I could get some photos to use from the service I left the 55-200mm on the Fuji X-E3 and the 24-105mm on the Nikon Z6.

Contemporary Service at Roswell Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Roswell, GA. [NIKON Z 6, , ISO 51200, ƒ/4, 1/60, Focal Length = 95]

No question that the larger full-frame sensor on the Nikon Z6 had less noise. However I was pretty happy with the noise on the Fuji X-E3 as well.

Contemporary Service at Roswell Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Roswell, GA. [NIKON Z 6, , ISO 51200, ƒ/4, 1/50, Focal Length = 35]
Contemporary Service at Roswell Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Roswell, GA. [X-E3, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/3.5, 1/25, Focal Length = 83]

I think that the dynamic range is better with the Nikon Z6. You can see some of that comparison here.

Contemporary Service at Roswell Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Roswell, GA. [X-E3, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 2500, ƒ/4.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 300]

I love the smaller size and weight of the Fuji system. I think the quality is excellent.

I do think that the quality of the images and higher ISO is definitely in favor of the Nikon Z6.

Nikon Z6 vs Fuji X-E3

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM , ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

This is just a quick comparison shooting some ornaments on my tree. First this is using my Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM on the Nikon Z6 using the FTZ Mount Adapter.

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 10000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

With the Fuji I am using the kit lens XF 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4. It is close to the same format when I shot it to compare to the 35mm. 

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM, ISO 16000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/52]

Here I am shooting with telephoto range using the Nikon 85mm.

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Here I cropped in to about 100% 

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 10000, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Overall I think the Nikon Z6 focused faster. I was using the point to focus. I did the same thing with the Fuji X-E3 but there is a little back and forth with the Fuji.

The larger sensor gave a cleaner file and less noise with the Nikon Z6 in my opinion.

What I did notice is that the Fuji kit lens compares nicely to the two sharpest lenses I own for the Nikons.

When it comes to travel I still would prefer to carry the smaller Fuji. I think I give up a little performance to pick it, but less weight.

When it comes to performance I believe the Nikon wins.

Learning to “Peel the Onion” in Storytelling

Stanley teaching at University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii. [top photo by Dorie Griggs, bottom photo by Robin Nelson] [Nikon D810, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 3200, ƒ/7.1, 1/60]
While in college majoring in social work I discovered the power of photography. Specifically, I discovered that photojournalism did the best job I could find in educating people about the world around them.

Before graduating with my degree in social work I had to do an internship in the field. I found an internship working at the mental health center in Kinston, NC.

When counseling a person, I would “peel the onion” as we would say to move from the symptoms to the cause for a problem in a person’s life. Most of the time when someone was suffering it takes them longer to see the root cause of their problem.

While I was in college I was also taking photos for the school newspaper. I saw quickly how a photograph helped “peel the onion” for a community. Mirroring is a therapeutic technique where you repeat back to a client, usually in your own words but sometimes word for word, the idea that has just been expressed. It can literally be as simple as: Client: “I felt hurt and confused.”

I discovered that a photograph was even more powerful than the mirroring technique.

I just finished grading the students in Introduction to Photojournalism Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

More than half of the two classes I taught had never owned a camera other than the one on their phone. I was teaching them the mechanics of photography and also how to tell stories as a photojournalist.

What I discovered is the one skill that they needed more than how to use their camera was how to “peel the onion” of the subject.

Togo, West Africa [Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/200]
The photojournalists that consistently tell powerful stories are the ones who spend more time getting to know their subjects.

I would love to help you if you don’t know how to “peel the onion” of a story. In January I am going to Lima, Peru with a few other instructors who have the same calling to help 10 workshop participants to become storytellers using their cameras.

Each person will work with a person to tell their story. While working on the story they will have one-on-one time with the instructors to coach them each day through the process. By the end of a week they will show to the community a short 3 to 5-minute video that has the subject telling their own story.

I will do this again in March in Trinidad and then this coming summer we will bring the team together again and go to Bucharest, Romania. Maybe you want to join us.

James Dockery enjoys taking photos and showing the boys in the Balkans their photos.

Go here to sign up for our trip.  You can also contact me for one-on-one classes or we can put together a workshop for your organization.

Every Sunday Christians Re-experience Their Story

Siberia—Working with outsiders means listening and being heard, according to Eduard Genrich, of Second Baptist Church in Novosibirsk. People here say they are encouraged and helped by outsiders, but taken advantage of by some. (photo by Don Rutledge)

The order of worship in churches is based on the only full worship service we have recorded in scripture which is Isaiah 6:1-8.

When we start the service the first thing that happens is acknowledging we have come into the presence of God. This is similar to how you start a story and introduce characters.

When we meet God in this moment it will cause us to be reminded of our sin, which is also similar to a story needing crisis/tension. This is where in worship we acknowledge there is nothing we can do and only God’s grace is able to save us. But first we must confess.

This dialogue continues between man and God in worship where after we confess and God has forgiven us, then God is asking who will go. This is like in the storyline where the mentor is outlining to the main character what they need to do to overcome their crisis.

Often this is where the homily/sermon is given that gives us more insights on how to live our lives. This is the direction given to all main subjects in a story that then they go and then live out those instructions.

Emily Wright during the Easter Services at Roswell Presbyterian Church.

Here is the scripture that both Christians and Jews use to create their order of worship.

Isaiah 6:1-8 

REVELATION– verse 1: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

ADORATION– verse 3: “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'”

CONFESSION– verse 5: “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.'”

EXPIATION– verse 6-7: “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.'”

PROCLAMATION– verse 8a: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'”

DEDICATION– verse 8b: “Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'”

SUPPLICATION– verse 11: “Then I said, ‘How long, O Lord?'”

COMMISSION– verse 9: “And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people…'”

Roswell Presbyterian Church

If you look at this order and then compare it to the Narrative Storyline you will see they have a lot in common.

PLOT – a series of incidents that are related to one another, what happens in a story, includes 5 stages (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution)

EXPOSITION – usually in the beginning of a story, where the characters, setting, and conflict (problem) are introduced

RISING ACTION – the part of the story where the conflict(s) develop, in which the suspense and interest builds

CLIMAX – the turning point or most exciting moment of a story, in which the main character comes face to face with the main conflict and a change happens

FALLING ACTION – all the loose ends of the plot are tied up, the conflict and climax are taken care of in this part of the story, and the suspense is eased

RESOLUTION – where the story comes to a reasonable ending and the outcome is resolved

Roswell Presbyterian Church

Here is how I see these lining up
Worship Service Narrative Story
Revelation Exposition
Adoration
Confession Tension/Struggle
Expiation Climax
Proclamation Falling Action
Dedication
Supplication
Commission Resolution

All the stories in scripture have flawed characters who either turn to God for help and are obedient to those directions or they refuse to be obedient. Now many of those stories involve a series of times where well intentioned characters continue to come back to God and ask for forgiveness for not being obedient.

I believe the reason this format is used in worship is that it forces us to process our faith in story form. It continues to remind us that like all characters in a story that we live in crisis that we cannot solve on our own. We need help. In the stories of Hollywood you need THE FORCE in the Star Wars movies to take on your enemies. You go to someone like Yoda to be trained.

New hymnal celebration event at Presbyterian Church [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.3, 1/30]
In the Disney stories like Cinderella she needed a Fairy God Mother to help her.

We are moved by stories because we can relate. While the problems are different, they are problems that the main character, like us, cannot solve alone.

The other cool thing about worship services as it relates to storytelling is that it has a soundtrack. The music in worship services helps to set the tone for stories to be told and as we resonate with those stories we are reminded of the story we are living.