INSPIRE TEAM: KRISTA GUENIN

In this series of blog posts we are introducing the folks who are team members and organizers for Inspire 2013 by posting about personal projects and how they have helped us as wedding and portrait photographers. Krista is the owner of KRISTA PHOTOGRAPHY and specializes in wedding and family photography.

Photo by CoCo Boardman (www.kristaphoto.com)

The theme for this year's Inspire Team blog posts is personal projects.  Lucky for me, that's also the theme of my panel discussion at Inspire this year! Passion Projects

I've been a wedding photographer for over 10 years now and while I love photographing weddings, I definitely still wrestle with the "What am I DOING with my LIFE?!" question sometimes.  Capturing memories of a wonderful day in people's lives is a great thing, documenting their families as they grow and change is precious to me, but my heart longs for more.    A combination of my faith and my personality makes me crave working towards a higher purpose, to serve and bless people who are suffering.  And while I could go to on a missions trip with my church and build a school or something like that, I'm not so good at construction as I am at photography.  I've spent the last 10 years trying to figure out how to use my gifts to make a difference in this world, and I'll probably be asking that question for the rest of my life.

Ten years ago, right as I began my career as a photographer, I did go on a missions trip with my church - to an orphanage in Vincente Guerrero, Mexico.  I went down to serve in whatever way they asked - cleaning houses, helping with the kids, serving food, etc.  I also took 40 rolls of black & white film with me, and found myself shooting more than actually working.  That trip sparked something me that has never died out.  Since then, I've travelled to India, Sri Lanka, Belgium, Zimbabwe, and Haiti on both missions trips and working as a Humanitarian Photographer shooting for NGOs and documentary projects.  It has changed me.

Last Fall, a friend who I'd worked with on a project in Sri Lanka contacted me to ask if I'd work as the still photographer on a documentary film about the sexual exploitation and trafficking of low caste girls and young women in Nepal.  I read the testimonies of a couple of teenage girls we would be interviewing for the film, and as I read their stories of being drugged, kidnapped, waking to find that they were enslaved in a brothel in India, tortured into submission, raped numerous times a day for months before escaping... with tears streaming down my face, I knew I had to go.

I met women on this trip who are stronger and more resilient than I could have ever imagined.  I've witnessed first hand the power of redemption, both spiritual and literal.  This is the work that I'm passionate about, this is the reason I shoot weddings and portraits the other 48 weeks of the year - so I can do things like this.  When you care about something - I mean really care about it, and feel passionately about it - you have to pursue it.  If you have a project, or an idea, or a cause that makes your heart beat faster - go for it!  There will always be reasons to say no, or put it off (oh, it's still wedding season. oh, I can't possibly leave my wedding clients for 3 weeks... etc.).  But the longer you put off the things you really care about, the harder it gets to take the first step.