(all images copyright 2007-Zave Smith)
It was a warm summertime Sunday morning. I found myself in the pews of the First African Baptist Church. This church was founded in Philadelphia, during the year 1809 with its present building dating from 1906. I was there to photograph the service for an exhibition that was going to open in just seven days at the African American Museum of Philadelphia. This was not a lot of lead-time.
Though I had seen many depictions of Black Baptist services in film and on TV. This was my first live experience of an evangelical nature. I was excited to be there. Most of my work is advertising with a few feature editorial projects mixed in. Most of the time I am working with models and a crew, most of the time I am working from a layout and a script. This particular Sunday it was my camera, a couple of lenses and a desire to capture the essence of an unfamiliar service without getting in the way.
Being open to opportunities for creativity has been one of the strategies that has kept my eye fresh and has helped me grow as a photographer. Not all opportunities come from advertising work. Occasionally visual opportunities arise from an unexpected phone call from someone with no real budget. It may be a passion for a project that is infectious or a cause that is just that will convince me to take on the work. Often these unusual projects force me to work a bit differently than my normal routine, often these projects also force me to think and to see differently. Often, this new way of working will add to my repertoire of creative skill. This project was no different.
I hope you enjoy these new images.
A sincere thanks to Craig Johnson of Talisman Interactive for inviting me to participate in this project and to Reverend Griffith and the Congregation of The First African Baptist Church for welcoming me into their Sunday Morning Service.