Charity

Hope for Haiti's Children Volunteer Work, 2016 Photo credit: Charles Cruze

Hope for Haiti’s Children Volunteer Work, 2016
Photo credit: Charles Cruze

Some things are inexplicable. Things like this passion and desire to take pictures. Why? Why does that feeling exist in me? Other people have this same feeling too. Why do I feel so passionate about standing out and shining bright? What is it about me?

First, let me just admit that when I think about what I do for a living, I teem over with excitement of the possibilities. I relish the opportunity to love someone through my camera and skills. I have the mindset that everyone I shoot is someone I’m helping. I have a servant’s heart and I can’t wait to deliver an amazing product. They’re always so glad they met me and hired me. Many clients come only wanting great pictures, but their testimonies are such that they leave with confidence in a friend and ultimately, their permanent family photographer. I see my job as a ministry and a joy. This passion is not easily replicated.

I possess this thirst. It’s a thirst to help people feel valuable. It is engrained in me from my younger days and the way I watched my parents being ever so willing to feed and entertain their friends and family in our very meager home. My father would immediately offer our guests food and drink. My mother immediately went to the kitchen to make something (if she wasn’t already there). They’d offer a place to sit, a coffee, a tour of the new project in the backyard. And that warming, radiant, welcoming smile! My father had an inviting countenance about him and a big “laughing” smile that could make an iceberg feel at home in the desert. And let me not forget Jesus-the source of the radiance in our family and in our ways. He wants me to help love people. I do that in this job. I jump at the opportunity to show others what’s in store in my mind. I want them to feel valuable through the images I take of them. I truly have a passion for adding promise to a person or a family’s life through pictures. I see this as a significant trait-one that sets me apart from the crowd. I see my love for stories and a person’s history as an excellent compliment to what I do. My focus will continue to be on stories-big and small-and see where that leads me. I believe that seeing a story coupled with pictures is not only a priceless experience, but it gives the images themselves 1,000 times more depth.

The art of making pictures is an avenue for worship for me. Whatever I create, I can’t deny it and I can’t stop it-will be a testament to God’s glory. I. can’t. stop. it. I had a seasoned photographer once tell me if I would just get rid of all the “spiritual stuff” on my website, that I would get a lot more business. My website is driving prospective clients away. Maybe he’s right, but what he didn’t realize is that what he was telling me to do was to get rid of myself. If I followed what he said, I would lose my purpose and the very reason I have this talent at all. My creativity and ability to see beauty doesn’t exist without this spiritual element. The creativity I have is because it is inspired through prayer and love for the Lord. I can’t deny it. Consequently, I thanked the photographer for his advice but ignored it. I can’t take Jesus out of my job. That recommendation was made in 2007. Since then, I have left my full time job for my photography business and God has been sending me clients every single month. My last sales quarter was the highest it has ever been and since leaving my reliable job, my business has been growing by leaps and bounds. God delivered a promise in a dream. People are spreading the word about me. I’ve done very little marketing and have owned an old flash-based website for the longest time (that I’m finally updating), and my business has still grown at a rapid pace. How has all this happened? God is faithful-that’s how!

My largest desire is to put scripture on people’s walls. I’ve gifted photo prints to clients through the years and I love doing it. Sometimes they call me about a mistake in their order and that’s when I tell them it’s my gift to them. They thank me and tell me how much they love it and hang it proudly on their walls. I don’t plan to stop surprising people with scripture prints. Why? Because I know that scripture is alive, truth is unchanging, and love is always knocking at the door. I want a child or person to see a scripture next to their face and realize how valuable they are to God. The thought that I can be a person that God uses to accomplish this communication fills my heart and feed the purpose for which I believe I was born.

Hope for Haiti's Children Volunteer Work, 2016 Photo credit: Charles Cruze

Hope for Haiti’s Children Volunteer Work, 2016
Photo credit: Charles Cruze

I’m preparing. God put it on my heart to work for Compassion International as a photographer a little more than a year ago during a prayer walk. Since then, I have found that they don’t hire photographers on a permanent basis; they use freelancers. I have kept an eye out on their job postings and it looks like in order to work for them, I need to acquire a lot of new skills. Through prayer, I have found that I have one more option and that is to minister to people right now in the same capacity that I would if I worked for Compassion. While I do this, I am sharpening my skills. I want to make my work so significant that Compassion notices me. I’ll add on new skills as I go and have a keen eye out for openings that fit me. If the call never comes, then my time was not wasted. My photography will have ministered to thousands anyway. I see this work as a legacy to leave my kids, whether they pick up the camera or not. I want them to always know that the root of my business is love. The purpose will be etched in their hearts by watching me work and they will say, “My mom loved people with her camera”, not just “my mom was a photographer”. They will see God’s faithfulness in our finances and our conviction to share our resources with others. These are my goals and God can search for anything selfish in me, I will examine it, and with His help, purge it. I am in prayer daily over my heart and intentions.

I want to start a nonprofit called Purple Jars. There is a Facebook page dedicated to it already, although none of the paperwork has even started. Photography like mine is a luxury. It can’t be afforded by everyone. I can’t cut my costs, reduce my bills, or create more time than there is in a day, but I love to give of it all. I want to be like Jesus who, in his time of mourning John the Baptist, gave of himself and had compassion on a crowd of people needing to hear his message of hope, love, and healing. Unfortunately, though, my food pantry and my mortgage payments have suffered from doing this. Don’t you wish living were free? Consequently, I am putting away a percentage of each sale to help with the costs of gifting a photo session and a few prints to a needy family. Who are the “needy” when it comes to photography? People that want to heal. They have gone through God-sized stories and they want to document the outcome beautifully. I want to do that for them. I want to make them and their situation feel valuable. I desire to place scriptures on gorgeous images I create in their home to help them remember God’s faithfulness. Perhaps their child survived, their son passed away but left a newborn daughter behind, or they have felt great loss and are still in the darkness. They deserve a chance to heal. Beautifully inspired images can do that. If you are wondering, you can give towards this fund, but at this time it is not an official charity. Although my business is growing, it is not at a stage or have the right personnel to support a full-fledged non-profit. Your donation would just be a gift to me personally, and yes, these sessions are really happening and will continue to happen. I keep an account of the donations and what it mainly offsets is my travel and cost of printing. Each family gets a custom session, an 8×10, and 2-5×7 prints along with the digital files for documentation. Their stories are shared on the Purple Jars page. This work is sacred ground. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for this service, please send me their story through email.

Thank you for reading about my heart. If you’re still here, then you must be wondering some things. Please feel free to comment below or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you!

Blessings,
Julizza

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