Now give me your real smile :)

houserHave you ever had your picture taken at church? Not the kind where one of your congregation’s ubber talented amateur photographers is snapping pictures at the annual fish fry or holy humor Sunday service, but a professional picture for a new church directory?

At the church I’m currently serving we just went through the time consuming yet joyous occasion of having a professional company come in and get as many people on our membership roles photographed. It took an overall time frame of about 4 months to get a team organized to help out with the undertaking, to call all the members on our roles and even the ones who aren’t members but attend regularly or consider us their place of worship in order to schedule a picture appointment, to recall everyone to remind them when their appointment was, to actually take all the photos, and then to compile the rest of the directory with fun photos and lastly to make sure people’s information for the directory was all accurate. WHEW!

I wonder how it is across the state when it comes to thoughts on directories though, and would love to hear what you are thinking in the comments below; because most of the folk up here in the Northeast corner of the state thought of this endeavor as a necessity that would help log the history of the church for some future generation to look back on rather than a current tool to be used by the congregation now.

Lucky for me the photography team that had come to take the pictures of these dutifully posing North Eastern Iowans heard one of the folks talking to me about this and said in response, ‘I see it differently.’

As I and that particular congregant and the other photographer and the woman sitting at the table helping folks to sign in and the other two families that had come early looked at her, she continued that statement with an understanding of a church directory that only a photographer would have. She said, to all of us now listening, ‘when I take pictures I always say smile, and then take the picture. But THEN I say, now give me your real smile…and I take another picture. I do that because we as a people are really guarded about our emotions-especially our true happiness and it’s 9 out of 10 of you all that pick that 2nd photo because it captures something about you that you know is genuine but that we see very rarely-your true happiness as you laugh or smirk or grin widely at my statement. So church directories do way more than just log history-they help to capture something legitimate within a church and its people that may otherwise be overlooked.’

Photographs; whether they are for the church directory, for your walls at home, to be given away to family or to be kept tucked in your wallet or purse are meant to capture a moment so that right now that moment from the past can be re-lived.

Church directories are a good tool for keeping historical documentation that some future generation can look at…this is true…but they are meant to be for the now, they are meant to help us see one another in a more legit way. They are meant to give people the chance to start to know others that they sit with in church that they maybe don’t know all that well. They are meant to give us a glance at someone’s true happiness so that we can be looking for it in person, so that we can try to help facilitate what brings it on, so that we can live into it and be truly happy with them as well.

So smile :)

Now give me your real smile :)


Pastor Samantha Houser, Waukon Zion UCC and Iowa Conference Program Support/Adjunct Youth Ministry

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