Elevation Raleigh | worship experience highlights

2015 took a totally unexpected twist when we decided to leave our church and begin attending Elevation Church in Raleigh. Ever since Lincoln was born we had kind of felt God pulling us somewhere else, but we weren’t really sure where, exactly and we were quite comfortable where we were, especially with our small group that had been a total blessing to us as newlyweds and now new parents. During my maternity leave I had begun listening to a lot of Steven Furtick’s sermons via podcast on my commute (How to Be Brave, Moodswingers, and Meant to Be are a few favorites. Recently watched #DeathtoSelfie on Netflix!) and we have been longtime Elevation Worship listeners, so when we decided to start visiting some churches in the area it was first on our list to visit mostly because we love the music and energy and had enjoyed visiting now and then since they opened a campus in our area. 
After visiting in September, we both walked out of the worship experience (note: this is what the “service” is called, which used to make me *rolling eyes emoji* a little, but honestly, it is always more like an ‘experience’ than what you think of when you hear the word ‘church service’) and looked at each other and said the same exact thing: “Why don’t we just go here?” (I think I added– ‘for a little while and see if this is for us’ because I’m kind of a commitment phobe.) So, we did.
The next week I visited an e-group bible study with a wonderful group of women of all ages, races, and stages in life (this was a total answer to another prayer which I’ll write about later) and a few weeks later Marshall went to a guys e-group (another prayer, here too) led by one of the photographers for the Raleigh campus. Turns out they needed help on the photo team, as it was currently made up of this guy, his wife and another guy. The criteria for the team was: “has a camera” and they promised me that scheduling was flexible (at the time I was super paranoid about leaving Lincoln in the nursery for 6 hours on Sundays, as he was known for screaming the entire time). So, The Chatterbox was telling me all the reasons why this was a bad idea, and why I was not good enough at taking pictures (Kells, did you SEE the criteria?), and that my baby would be scarred for life being in the nursery for so long on Sundays. Thankfully, I decided to listen to my husband instead and go for it.
There’s a bunch of funny little ways that me serving on the photo team has been such a gift for me. The things I can actually verbalize only scratch the surface. I’ve been wanting to shoot in RAW for years, but I’ve never really actually understood how to edit it because I never edited in anything besides iPhoto. Around the time Lincoln was born they released a Mac OS update that did away with iPhoto and therefore my entire system for storing, editing and sharing photos personally and for clients. Marshall got me the Adobe suite and I learned the basics of Lightroom and Bridge, but I still had a ton of questions (and like, thousands of pictures that were just sitting on a hard drive that my Mac could no longer open…) so I was a bit overwhelmed, to say the least. 
Enter, Elevation photo team. Chad and Amber Langhoff welcomed me with open arms to the team, sat down with me and showed me their personal workflow (even shared their custom Lightroom presets with me) from import to export and how they stored their files personally and for clients and it was AMAZING. They showed me editing shortcuts, shared tips for shooting in low light, answered all of my millions of questions about settings on my camera and lenses and crop sensors, AND as icing on the total cake of this whole thing, like, a week after they met me, they let me shoot with their Mark ii and really big lens. Like, one of those big, long ones that weigh the amount of a full term newborn. It was just, plain amazing. A total gift. A total and completely unexpected and wonderful gift! 
I’ve always loved photography, and know just enough technique to be dangerous, but having the opportunity to work with and learn from such a wonderful team has been an amazing experience. The objective of our team is to document and tell the story of what God is doing at Elevation Church each week. And I love it. As I was crawling around the floor during worship today, sneaking pictures of people with their hands in the air, singing, some tears flowing down their faces I just couldn’t help but thank God for allowing me to be part of something so much bigger than me. I just can’t believe it sometimes. 

In the meantime, Marshall auditioned for the worship team to play bass and was able to fill a need there, so that is what we are going to be doing in 2016. Playing bass, taking pictures and leaving Lincoln in the nursery (soon it will be the toddler room!). Today, the whole team was out of town except for me so I was solo and I expected to be stressed about grabbing every shot  but it was so much fun! I had a great time jumping in and out of everywhere all morning, and Lincoln had a fun time snacking all day and playing all morning. This weekend held record attendance for our campus (717 people!) and we had a ton of first-timers and salvations. The sermon, titled Don’t Skip Dessert was just awesome, a great way to kick off the year.  I caught bits and pieces and can’t wait to listen to the whole thing tomorrow. Marshall was playing bass and you’ll notice that he does not appear in really any of these pictures. In an attempt to remain professional and not take excessive pictures of my handsome husband, it would seem that I didn’t take a single one… 


(If any photo people are reading and are interested to know about gear, today I shot with the borrowed Mark ii (actually hoping to buy it this year from them, eeeeeee!), a variety of little Canon lenses and my Nikon 28mm 2.8 lens. I have a sweet adapter for my Canon body that allows me to use the old Nikon lenses, and it is so rad. The full sensor in the Mark ii is amazing, and shooting in low light (and regular light) is just unreal in comparison to the 50D (my current camera) and my previous Rebel XS. I totally have a camera crush… #iloveyoumarkii)

It’s hard for me to find words that don’t seem cliche or disingenuous to really describe what a privilege being a part of this team is. I love how God thought to use me in this way. I think I always thought that if I asked God to use me, it would result in me living in a hut somewhere in the mission field. It never really occurred to me that he could use me in such a simple way, but that would have a profound impact on my life. To be able to serve in this way is truly a blessing that sets my heart on fire. Being able to witness lives being changed every single week, capturing tears and smiles and dancing while people truly encounter God… is just, unbelievable I think at times. Definitely not something I would have ever thought I’d have the joy of doing. I am inexplicably grateful for the opportunity to be part of a bigger story than this little story of mine. I will not take this opportunity for granted. I will savor and enjoy!

As it is often said at our church, the best is yet to come! 

Weeks that I’m shooting, I’ll be blogging my highlights for that day. 
I’m up for the next two weeks and can’t wait! 

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