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  • Volunteers gather to set up and to prayer over the upcoming worship experience.
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When you ask a 16 year old kid, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" You don't often expect that dream to stick. Well for me, it did.

I dreamed of traveling the world, using my camera to tell the stories of people that God was using in all types of church, ministries, and NGOs.

I first became enamored by cameras and photographs when I was 16. I watched photographers like Sean, Candice, and Cheyenne moving around Elevation Church as volunteers. One day I simply asked, "Hey, would you care if I just followed you around one day to see what you do?" None of them minded and from there, I started soaking in anything and everything a photographer that had been in it longer than me (which was literally everyone) would offer. My first day as an Elevation Church photo volunteer, Sean handed me several thousand dollars of camera gear, showed me a few simple modifications I could make and set me free. (What was he thinking?!?) We reviewed those photos at the end of the service and he told me I had a few good ones. (Whew! And I didn't break anything.) That was the first of many critiques I would open myself up to. I've learned that anytime you can get someone wiser and more experienced than you to offer you some feedback, you should always take that time. You definitely don't have to take to heart every word, but each time you should walk away with action steps to get better.

Throughout high school, I invested in my first 'real camera' with the help of my parents, and I kept getting around photographers in any learning situation I could, whether being a test model, carrying lights or second shooting. I was hungry and willing to learn.

My next adventure sent me off to college at Gardner-Webb. I chose to study Photojournalism and World Religions. These two coupled together for a super fun college experience. I spent four years learning about people who believed different from me, how to listen to understand, how to ask questions, and how to capture each person's story uniquely, through the lens I carry.

The last few years since graduation, the Lord gave me some amazing opportunities to be on the frontline of ministry, learning about caring and leading people. I served in a full-time volunteer coordinator role at NewSpring church. I cannot trade that experience and the relationships that have formed through that season for anything.

Here I am, staring down a new season of life. I know that now is the time to step and make my move.

Since the beginning of it all, I've loved photography. I've loved seeing each person's work through the lens of my camera and capturing extraordinary things that are so easily missed by the normal eye. I've love bringing life into simple stories and situations. I've loved stepping into a person's space to capture their expression. I've loved telling the stories of how God is working through His people.

The Lord has solidified the vision He placed in me as a 16 year old kid over the last few months of making this decision. My vision is to use my camera as a tool to connect ministries, churches, and organizations, through their own stories of what good is being done, to sponsors that only need to hear about them; also to use my camera to photograph the extraordinary beauty of everyday life through weddings and portraits.

In the days to come, I am going to be finalizing my mission statement, my vision, my goals, and my website. Through this journey I hope to always be learning and always growing. I seek to openly share my adventures and my struggles. I hope that you will follow along and see what is in store!

Welcome to the adventure!

Jessica Marie

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