Look here: a look at the past

March 03, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
Decades ago, there was a kid who loved photography.  He was amazed at how things, memories and faces could be frozen in time in a 2 dimensional medium.  Unfortunately, his parents did not have money to buy him a camera so he set that passion aside and resorted to other things – drawing, selling and making music to name a few.  He did not realize though that so much time had passed and what was set aside was now buried and forgotten.
From time to time, the passion for photography would manifest itself. During his grade school graduation, he asked for a kodak disc camera.  Even if it did not take good pictures, he took it with him everywhere he went. Whenever possible, he would burn film.  Eventually, the disc film became too expensive (and obsolete) and so the passion died again.  In college, he met people who were taking photography as part of their course.  He would borrow their cameras whenever possible and during his wedding, he even made an agreement with his wife that the first thing they would buy from the wedding money was an SLR camera.  So out came the EOS 888 camera.
In the year 2000, while doing corporate event management, he got inspired by Mike Miranda, a photographer who was hired by their company. He bought his first Nikon F60 camera and not long after, upgraded to an F80 and then an F100. He went under the tutelage of Master Photographer Jo Avila. His  first year was spent strictly as an assistant whose job was to clean lenses, hold flashes and to follow the photographer wherever he went. Then eventually, he got the chance to shoot as a back-up.
Eventually, people were calling left and right to invite him to birthday parties, baptism and weddings;  even people he did not know. He was expected to shoot and that was the time he came to his senses and decided it was time to turn his passion into a business.  So in 2003, he sold all his shares in the events company and concentrated on photography.
 That person was me. For years, I tried to contain the passion God placed in my heart but it kept coming back. God does not expect everyone to know how to shoot, but for those who He gifted with the ability to see things in a special way, He will someday ask you what you did to the gift He gave you.
In 2006, with all the accolades and awards given to me, I discovered that passion was not enough. To use the gifts God gave me was just the beginning of everything.  There is also a reason why God gave me this gift, which is my true purpose.  The Lord made it clear to me that I will use photography to share the love of Jesus to many.
From using the name John Mateos Ong, I began using the company name “Imagine Nation” more.  I coined the name because it was a group or nation of people who loved to imagine, pre-visualize and turn ordinary things into beautiful works of art in Jesus’ name. I envisioned it to be the modern day “renaissance artist” who declared the glory of God in every art that we do.
I also wanted to impart the teachings of Jesus specifically in the field or art by creating an apprenticeship program to mentor and help bring out the gifts of people in photography.
To date, there are 10 batches all in all, more often than not composed of around 12 people.   These people walk with me and share with my purpose. This is a purpose that surpasses simply making money and creating great pictures. It is to share Jesus to everyone we meet.
This journey has been an amazing one.  For the past 12 years, I have given my life to these photographers who the Lord gave to me.
I have witnessed them start their career in photography. I have witnessed their  love story unfold and many of them chose me to become their godparent in marriage.  I have consoled with them when their loved ones passed away. I had the privilege of praying for them when they were down or sick.  I had the honor to bid  some of them farewell in their last few breaths on earth. Now this indeed is more than photography! The Lord has allowed my gifting to touch lives. I am glad I said “yes” to this calling. It has changed my life and I pray I have been an instrument in changing others’ lives as well.
Missing Gerdie. One of our Photographers that went ahead to meet our Creator.

Missing Gerdie. One of our Photographers that went ahead to meet our Creator.

So how do you know you are doing His purpose?
First … Doing it energizes you rather than drains you. So if it is  in you, do not stop learning and being excellent in what you do.
Second… People give you the feedback that you are doing great.  This positive affirmation is a confirmation of  your gifting.
Lastly,… You feel God smiling at you with what you are doing. You know that you glorify His Name whenever you do his purpose. It will not be about you. It will always be about Jesus.
So if you are in a search for something more,… if you feel you need a dose of hope, inspiration and finding His purpose, Look Here. Our pictures will reflect stories of miracles, love and the promises of God.  You do not have to look far.  Look Here.


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