Aaron Chang started surfing in the late 60s when he was 10 years old. His father helped him to purchase his first surfboard and also inspired his love for photography. While it wasn’t necessarily love at first try, Chang’s appreciation for photography grew as he watched his father teach summer sessions on photography and learned how to expose prints at the Boys Club. His love for surf photography started when he broke his ankle and couldn’t surf. His friend’s father loaned him a Super 8 camera. When they got the film back, he became enamored with watching his friends surf and setting it to music. It would become the thing that fired him up about photography.
In addition to being an award-winning photographer, Chang has also been the Senior Photographer for Surfing Magazine for 25 years. His work has enabled him to travel to more than 50 countries. His work has been featured in many publications and network television. We talked five years ago with photographer Aaron Chang about how he has seen his work inspire others and what inspires him.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” Psalm 19:1-6
Chang shared with us how some of his photography has inspired change in people.
“Initially, I set out to shoot surfing because I loved surfing, I loved the energy, I loved the ocean. In that process, I discovered the world and that I really loved the world As a photographer, you often work shooting photos to try and capture and convey the things that you’re seeing, messages, or impulses that you have. Over the years, I’ve come to figure out that my message is to be a hope filled message that we live in a spectacular placed filled with beauty and wonder. And, it’s been quite remarkable. I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘This particular photo changed my life. It caused me to get out of what I was doing and go travel around the world.’ I’ve had people tell me that certain photographs impacted them so much that they made major life changes as a result of seeing that photo.”
While many photographers capture poverty and suffering, Chang chooses to focus on light and water in his photography. He opens up on why he does that.
“With photography you can choose to see almost anything. If you want to see the worst of humanity with a camera, it’s very easy. If you want to see the best of humanity, it’s very easy.”
“since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20
Chang opened up on what inspires him the most.
“My mission is to document the beauty in life. If I can cause people who view my photographs to stop and ponder the wonder of God’s creation, I succeed. We are, as all things in this world are, such marvels of design and artistry. I see things daily that remind me of the overwhelming perfection that is God. That we are children of God, created in His image and loved as he loves us, unconditionally, inspires me to share this message through my art.”
Be an inspiration. Whether it is photography, artwork or service, each of us has been entrusted with gifts and talents. Look for ways to use your gifts to point others towards God. It can be capturing nature through photography, writing a verse that inspires you in calligraphy, or knitting a quilt for someone in need. Pray for God to show you who you can bless with your art or service. While your gift or talent might not be a part of your job or daily life, take time to pursue it. It is often through those things that God reveals himself more to us and uses us to impact others.
Take time to be inspired. Often we get caught up with the details of life and forget to take time to spend time marveling God’s creation. Set aside time this week to enjoy nature. It can be a hike on a trail, sitting under the stars, or skipping rocks on a lake. Find a time where you don’t have to rush to be anywhere. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal more of Himself to you. Reflect on Psalms or other verses that talk about God, creation and his love for us.
Share what inspires you with others. It can be an inspiring verse, graphic or video, the Internet is full of encouraging material. By simply sharing something on your platform, many can be see and potentially be encouraged as well. If you are afraid of what others might say or are hesitant, pray and ask God to give you faith and show you what to share. The great part is that you don’t have to be a professional artist, photographer, videographer or musician to do this. Just make sure to attribute the credit to the creator.