Friday, January 28, 2011


This is a young lady from a very small village in Haiti.   I was so moved and inspired by her that I had to turn on my camera.  I didn't want to cause a disturbance, so I just recorded from my lap, with the lens turned her direction from underneath my arm.   It was a beautiful moment to see her Praising God without inhibition.  To this day I still feel like I learned so much in those precious few minutes.  On the outside, the music and instruments were far from perfect.  But, on the inside!  I can only imagine it must have been the most beautiful sound in all the world to Jesus.

As most of you know, writing about Haiti, even a year later, has been next to impossible for me.   I just haven't been able to bring myself anywhere near those feelings and emotions.  Maybe because I'm scared of them? I don't know.  
But, I read this quote the other day from one of my favorite childhood authors, and it's really given me pause.
"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." — Louis L'Amour

I live in America, more specifically in the heartland, north of the Bible Belt, where sometimes the praise of God can seem more akin to a can of Spam rather than the juicy, grilled filet mignon that I read it to be in the scripture.   There is such contrast between a human being in love with the notion and the window-dressing of Christianity and one who is simply given over to Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, who really believes in the King of Kings, that He saves us, that He loves us, that He desires so much for us.

In our churches today there is this amazing phenomenon where instead of praising God with all of our heart and soul, the sound booth perfectly queues up a taped recording of someone else, doing that for us.   We see kids marched up to the front for the latest program, or adults 'leading' us in worship.  We hear outstanding musical numbers, full orchestras, with these invisible voices of other choirs and kids who are singing angelically in tune.  They are excited and jubilant and really quite remarkable as the sound is pumped beautifully through the loudspeakers.   Meanwhile, here in real time, our lips are barely moving.  Something resembling a dying chicken is being emitted from our throats, a whispered, almost audible tone coming from our lungs, and we serve this up to our praise.  

Right now it's mostly the children's programs and the special music, but how long until it's just the way we worship?  Those kids grow up, and they teach their kids, right?  How long until worship dies, and how soon will the church that is built upon those masks die with it?

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy"
Psalm 98

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Clara Grace

7lbs. 3 oz.
20 inches
Born to the proud parents, Michael & Angela,
on December 15th, 2010 at 11:05pm

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lisa & Darin

these two got sooooooo very very cold! But they toughed it out and plowed through the snow with us all the way.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dan Elliott Weddings

It took a little longer this year to pick the brides to showcase, but we've finally got overhauled for 2011.
A little cleaner this time around, softer edges and a little more flow.


I've been thinking of this word alot lately.
What is it really?
Is it a cross between what we want, what we desire, what we assume, what we expect, and what we perceive?

And then, after you've sifted down to what you'd call a reasonable definition, sculpted in your own mind, what would be your life, ideally?

I'm beginning to wonder if we can't use the idea behind this word to understand what's most hidden about ourselves, things about us that aren't seen on the surface.

Ideally, I'd like to shoot and provide for my family throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall, and then ship down to Haiti over the winter to do God's work.  (I've reserved this spot for you to interject your smirk or your laugh, or your Amen....)
In images, in building, in relationships, in discipling, in conversations and friendships, in serving and loving, I want to walk the way I think Christ would, not if He were in my shoes, but if I were in His...

But what does that really reveal about me?

Most days I completely fail.  Yet, still it's what I find in my core.   People here hibernate with the snow, or they migrate just like the honking geese that fly over my window every October and November.  It would seem ideal, that if I'm going to serve, if I'm going to be useful, this would be the time.

The bank would flatly disagree, and understandably so.  I need to use this time to strategize and plan for advertising, to reinvent myself, and bottom that mortgage.

But when I start to think of what God, the creator of the Heavens and the Earth, might have planned for me, ideally, what good works He may have prepared in advance for me to do, I get the sense in His economy, the picture may look entirely different than mine.

Did He create me to ho-hum through life, to migrate north and south, honking all the way?  Did He put me on this Earth so I might live a long and fruitful life of making timely payments on the mortgage?
Did He bring me into being so that I might just survive, get by, squeak along?
Or could it be that I'm here for something more? Something of greater value.  An eternal investment toward the everlasting, instead of paying down the note on something that is just withering away.   It all winds up in the garbage dump someday anyway, doesn't it?

My challenge in the coming days is to step outside of my idea of ideally.

Maybe, playing the game will change once I change the way it's played.

Here is a montage I put together of a little girl that I met on my first hike up into the mountains of Haiti.  You'll see in the video there's a few shots of me giving her things, a necklace, some hair ties, soap, things like that.  I had to take them back from her a few hours later, because I found out that she is a slave to one of the families up on the mountain, and they were just going to take them away from her as soon as I left.  It was the first time in my life that I met someone who actually believed she was 'less-than' everyone else.  My heart has been broken for her ever since.
I don't know that she's ever been afforded the idea to think of what her life might be, ideally.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day One

Imagine if we could see life this way...
the span of our time here on this Earth, in the breadth of a couple of minutes. The fear to stand on our own two feet, then the will to push out and bet the farm, given a slight nudge.
The determination, the constant moments where we lose our balance and plummet down to the ground, just when we think we've got it all figured out. How hard it is sometimes to get back up, and yet, after years of practice, it begins to get a little easier. We have to plant our feet just so...push with this muscle that we never knew we had, and strive. Then, someday, once we've earned our bruises and we have the aches and pains to prove that we've lived, maybe we'll know what it feels like to fly.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


This is Wylie.
I love shooting her. She is one of the sweetest girls I've ever met, just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She has natural talent, and loads of it. She knows exactly what I'm looking for with every pose and angle, and as Kari puts it, she just knows how to move.
Wylie won Ms. Photogenic at this year's Teen SD pageant, and with us, for shooting in crazy subzero temperatures, kneeling down and laying in the snow, even scooping it up with her bare hands to blow a few flakes at the camera, she wins our 2010 Toughest Girl of the Year.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Winter Bridal Special plus Erin & Joel

We're a little behind this year... haven't even had a chance to take down the Christmas tree yet (yes, the fire hazard grows a little more serious every day)
So without any further delay, we offer our Annual Winter Bridal Special.  
Free engagements to any weddings we book between Jan 1 and Valentines (Feb 14).
Happy New Year!

Here's Erin & Joel, braving the cold for some wintry engagements