"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Portrait #15—The Sleeping Beauty

Posted in 50 Portraits Project (2013), Photography, Portraits, Preemptive Love Coalition by matt on Saturday, April 13, 2013

A photo of The Sleeping Beauty, a little Iraqi girl recovering from a lifesaving heart operation.

An Iraqi girl sleeping after her lifesaving heart operation. Tikrit, Iraq

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A year of 50 posed portraits with only one light; a project designed to improve my camera work while blessing the people I encounter. You can see older portraits here, read the rules of the project here, or leave a comment below with your feedback.

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Portrait #5—The Translator

Posted in 50 Portraits Project (2013), Friends, Photography by matt on Saturday, February 2, 2013

A photo of my friend, the translator, in Najaf, Iraq.

My friend, the translator, Najaf, Iraq

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A year of 50 posed portraits with only one light; a project designed to improve my camera work while blessing the people I encounter. You can see older portraits here, read the rules of the project here, or leave a comment below with your feedback.

A Shooting In Fallujah

Posted in Good Causes, Photography, Preemptive Love Coalition by matt on Friday, January 11, 2013

A photo of the roadsigns from Baghdad to Fallujah and the rest of Anbar Province.

Sorry, that headline probably gave my mother a heart attack.

To clarify: I’m in Fallujah, Iraq for our 15th Remedy Mission, and I’ve enjoyed several photo/video shoots with the local staff, the families, etc.

The stereotypes and rumors aren’t in short supply when it comes to this part of Iraq—many of which might just be true. My Kurdish friends in the north and my Shia Arab friends in the south pretty much all assume people only come here with a death wish (or because they think I’m CIA), but my experience of the city so far hasn’t lent credence to that fear.

Granted, we’re staying in a dorm room inside the walled-in hospital complex that has guards surrounding it and we aren’t allowed to enter the city, but most people have been courteous—even friendly—to us.

I think it’s interesting how Iraqis in the south, center, and north have similar fears based on one-off anecdotes from the news and rumors they’ve heard from friends as we do in the West. I had Iraqi friends tell me they were canceling their trip to California because of Hurricane Sandy—nearly five thousand miles away!

Everyone feels afraid of the unknown sometimes—don’t think I’m smug in how I view Westerners, Iraqis, or anyone. I have all kinds of preconceived notions that help and hurt my interpretation of the world. My prayer this week, though, is that GOD would provide me with the notions of Christ—how does he view the people of Fallujah? How can I line myself up with that perspective?

If you’re reading this, I’d invite you to pray for me and for yourself; that the Lord would give all of us eyes of compassion and enemy-love—even if it means doing things that seem risky.

And, as always, thank you for standing by us as we work to minister to the people here. Your partnership means more than you know!

Much love,

Matt

P.S.—One of my favorite things about the ride into Fallujah was getting to go in an old-school ambulance!

A photo of the Iraqi ambulance that I rode into Fallujah.

Em’s Graduation Shoot

Posted in Friends, Portraits by matt on Saturday, December 22, 2012

A photo of our friend, Em, in Parki Daik in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Our friend, Em, asked Cayla and I to celebrate her liberation from high school with a little photo shoot. We hit up our city’s prettiest park right around golden hour and took a bunch of shots, and it ended up being so much fun that I thought I’d share it with you.

I consider this my first actual portrait gig because Em’s family paid us with several bowls of outstanding homemade chicken noodle soup (and, of course, their great company). It was a really nice time—especially since they’re about to leave for a 6-month period of travel.

A photo of our friend, Em, in Mother's Park in Iraqi Kurdistan.           em.graduation.tree
I had planned to use my little flash/softbox set up for a lot of it, but the light was so beautifully warm that I just had Cayla hold a homemade reflector and bounce sunlight into her face for almost all of the shots.

I also deliberately tried different amounts of light in each shot; some are more contrast-y, others more warm and blown-out. It was fun having someone as sweet, patient, and photogenic as Em because it allowed me to experiment. I big thank you to my sweet wife, as well—she had all kinds of good ideas for posing and placement in the park.

The photos weren’t anything spectacular, but considering all we used was a camera, card board, and tin foil, I’m really pleased with the outcome!

A photo of our friend, Em, in Parki Daik in Iraqi Kurdistan.           A photo of our friend, Em, in Parki Daik in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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An Idea Worth Living—Jeremy Courtney’s TED Talk

Posted in Friends, Preemptive Love Coalition, Videos, Videos By Others by matt on Monday, April 16, 2012

I re-watched Jeremy’s TEDxAustin talk the other day and felt compelled to share it with you. I’ve tried to stick to an every-Friday posting schedule—and even then my writing here is marked by brevity—but here I’m deviating (though this will still be brief).

This video simultaneously explains what we do and reminds why we do it, and, since several of you are recent subscribers, I thought it’d be good to share a little more about our work in Iraq.

Within the organization, I’m the resident blogger (thus the brevity), social media maven nerd, PR handler, photographer, etc. etc.

Nutshell therein: I get to use words and images to make people care. It’s a sweet job.

And the man in the video is the jefe, a good friend, and one of the most awesome people I know (and I don’t “awesome” easily these days). So if you’re still reading this, WTFrag? Go watch the video already!

(And then pass it on!)