Stories from Big Sandy

Wow! I can’t believe the Big Sandy Conference has already passed! During the Conference, each day felt like a whole week; but now, the whole trip seems like a dream. Regardless of it’s length, it is certain that God’s hand of blessing was upon it. Words could be written without end of the phenomenalities encountered there, but let me just share a few stories of God’s providence from a photographers perspective.

An onlookers perspective of the studio at the Convention Center The book tables ready for the multitudes Chatting on Monday night after a full day of preparation.

First, I should start by saying “thank you” to the IPS trio who showed up on Tuesday afternoon. Without them taking on the photojournalism aspects of the Conference, I’m not sure we could have made the most of our being there. Knowing that the photojournalism was taken care of, I could set my mind on completing the main objectives of the portraiture project. Thank you IPS!

Rain was predicted for the entire weekBut now for the stories. When we first arrived, rain was predicted for every single day of the Conference. Now, for a photographer, that is not a very pleasant thing; water and camera equipment don’t go very well together. We were setting up one studio at the Library when, during a downpour, the equipment at the Convention Center for the second studio got completely soaked from leaks in the ceiling. Thankfully, it was still all packaged up so there was no damage. But I didn’t like the idea of unpacking it. How would I know where to set it up where there would be no leaks? It was impossible to know. We just picked a random spot, set it up, and waited. Well, it just so happened that the forecast for that week was completely bogus. It didn’t rain hardly at all! And even when it did once on Thursday afternoon (if I’m not getting the days mixed up), there were only two leaks near our studio set up: one on the right side, and one on the left. Neither were a problem.

I was often the subject for testing the lights for the correct exposureThe purpose of the studios, and even my presence at the conference, was to help update this year’s ATI re-enrollment forms by taking  portraits of all the students. Now there were a lot of students at Big We took portraits of both students . . .Sandy; over 200, I would estimate. This job of taking portraits was a big ordeal, and I had never been in charge of something of this magnitude before. Hence, I was sorely displeased when, by the end of the first full day (Wednesday), our total count of student portraits was, well . . . no more than 18. Eighteen? Even after changing our strategy the next day, it didn’t seem like we would make it. So, on . . . and families! This was a challenge with families of an average of 6+ kids. Friday morning during the first break, I just announced that “everyone else” come down to the studio. And come they did! We shot over 80 students in that one break, and by the end of the day, we had basically completed our task–just in time.

Another incident of God’s graciousness happened on Wednesday afternoon. I just finished making the announcement that everyone with the last name beginning with C to F come get their picture taken. These next two pictures are completely unrelated to the text; but this first one shows the conductor during the final evening's chior.I walked into where the studio was being set up and was informed that one of the special power cords to the strobes was missing. We forgot to bring it over from the Convention Center: a ten minute walk and at least a 5 minute ride there and back! So, with 5 minutes left, I rushed upstairs to look for someone with a vehicle. There just so happened to be two IMI guys standing This second one is Robert telling stories to the young Bates kids behind stagethere which, to my great surprise, said they had a vehicle! “Could I ask you to take me to the Convention Center and back real quick?” “Sure.” So we were off! But we weren’t off as fast as I would like. As we took our time, I felt myself getting up tight. “Stop,” I told myself, “it really doesn’t matter that much. Relax, and let the Lord work it out.” And work it out He did, for we got the cord back just in time.

“Providence has at all times been my only
dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us.”
— George Washington

Sunset on our way back to Illinois: pretty much the last picture I took


  1. Esther May 9, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

    Praise the Lord! He is faithful! Thanks for sharing with us James!

  2. Donald May 10, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Those are some encouraging stories. I’m glad that you have them written down here and I like how you included the picture of Robert and the Bates’ children! We don’t have to be children though to see the value of a testimony, because “the works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein” (Psalm 111:2).

  3. Daniel May 14, 2009 at 5:26 am #

    What fun stories and great pictures! I can’t wait for Nashville!

  4. Mom May 14, 2009 at 7:15 pm #

    God is faithful. We just all need to learn to “… be careful(anxious)for nothing…”

    I also was touched by Robert with the children.

  5. Michael May 16, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    That quote from George Washington at the end is spectacular – because so is the One we depend on. Way to let the Lord be your commander, James! Keep it up. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” we sing; its also sweet when our walk lines up with our talk 🙂 Then you have a testimony.

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