Confession #151: I was a fraud

Mission Trip Photo

This photo of me was taken sometime in 2012. I was assisting a mission team who was hosting a remote clinic in a village nearby. I wanted a picture taken, probably for Facebook, who knows. So naturally I went to the nearest gathering of children, placed myself in the center, put my arms around them as if we were best friends, and asked my husband to take the shot.

Years later, I find myself embarrassed behind this picture. I mean, do you notice that I am the only one even smiling? I didn’t stop to talk to these kids. Never played with them. Never even asked them their names. I don’t know if they were seen at the clinic. I don’t even know if their parents minded that I randomly took this picture of them.

This picture looks good. I look like a happy missionary loving on poor children. It is newsletter worthy for sure. But I feel like I should confess: it’s a fake. I was a fraud. This picture was taken IN ORDER TO look good, not to show the actual good I was doing.

Flipping through my Facebook and Instgram feeds, I see pictures like this one often. And I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that the missionaries in them are genuine. That before and after the picture came laughter and play and hugs and love. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder: How many times are children and poverty used simply as backdrops for good pictures?

Going on a mission trip? Let me encourage you to not be like the former me. Don’t take pictures for the sake of good pictures. Take pictures with purpose. Take them with honesty. Take them with people whose names you now know. Take them as if Facebook and Instagram weren’t actual things. Take them because you love the people and want to share their stories (and have asked to) and because you want to forever remember their faces. Then, I can guarantee, your pictures will be full of smiling children who think you’re amazing rather than the children in my picture who thought I was just plain crazy!

For another post on photography rules while on a mission trip check out THIS POST.

And join me on Instagram to see more pictures of my life in Haiti…messing up, learning a lot, and confession it all as I go.

~ Jillian

3 Comments on “Confession #151: I was a fraud

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