The Howell Family Shoot

"To Unite and Fill in the Gaps"

"Nature Haunting Progression"

"Nature Haunting Progression"

        Last year, I set out on a journey not knowing exactly where I would being going or what I would/should encounter on the road. Through my travels, I was able to discover the world, its largeness and fullness of diversity, and that I wanted to write and shoot to share what I experienced with others. Come what may, I was determined to make something of out what I had been given.

       I had an idealistic and vague concept of what The Aerial Jay was to be circled around: "a bird's-eye perspective of the world," a place where people could see things from the top looking down, to get a glimpse of how this world turned and change the way they looked at life because of it. But with that mission in mind, I, honestly, I didn't know where to start. I didn't know what exactly my focus would be to point others too. There wasn't much planning or intention in my shooting. I hadn't written in months. On top of that, I felt like there was a missing element in my work...of which I was uncertain. 

        Working three different gigs definitely makes life challenging to balance. Along with shooting and writing, I work as a barista and as a small group leader with my church's youth group, both of which I enjoy greatly. I had to make sure I gave my all in both workplaces while carving out time to go out/practice shooting or get writing published. I tried to balance the three, but without organization or direction. Because of that, I felt like I was stagnating with little sense of accomplishment. 

         All the while I felt the calling on my life to be a people impactor, perhaps in the counseling, ministry, teaching, or business role. There have been times that I wondered if I should put down the camera and the pen and just focus on people impacting in those capacities as my primary form of contribution. But looking back, I knew that photography and writing I had put out was something that people enjoyed. They were two art forms that I was determined to master despite any hardship. I felt that I couldn't let them go. Not yet. There was still something to be born from it. I just needed to figure out what it was.

        In the mean time, both barista work and youth work put me in the path of hundreds of people from all walks of life. What I experienced in both places was humanity's sense of want...that cry for something deeper. And I could relate to that. It was the common the struggle of humanity to fill in all parts of life.

        In our world there are all kinds of gaps. There are the gaps between countries that are created by conflict and history, the gaps of distance that keep us from connecting with others or experiencing certain things, the gaps between people created by hurt and malice, the gaps in communication created by misunderstanding and noise, and we can't forget, the gaps within ourselves of longing for intimacy, knowledge, and purpose. There are all these gaps that we look to fill but don't always know how. And there's a world of people all around us searching too.

"World Hopping"

"World Hopping"

        Thinking about it all got me thinking about my own gaps. Is what I'm trying to do my attempt to fill in the gaps of my own heart? If that was the case, then I had some real reflection to do. As passionate as I might be about what I want to do - a life of people impacting through travel, writing, and photography - it could never fill me in the way that a life of just pursuing and resting in who God is can. It reminded me that if I have this talent, why not make it contribute to helping get to the same place, help fill in the gaps by pointing to the One who can. It all started to make sense.

        I decided to tie in the purpose and goals for the Aerial Jay with the greater purpose:

To give people "a bird's-eye perspective of the world" to help unite and fill in the gaps culturally, relationally, and spiritually

"The Man in the Restaurant"

"The Man in the Restaurant"

        I may not be able to fill in the spiritual gap with my work or reach out to all 7 billion people as one person serving in a singular community, but I can capture what I see and express the soul of my mission as something that people can connect with. I hope that what I put out will start as a seed that grows into a rooted tree of thought, a framework by which people can see and live.

        My prayer is that this year will be one of changes, taking bigger leaps, and impacting in more meaningful and deep ways. 

- A.J.