RY is Chief Photographer and Communication Designer of 3:16 Creative, at 3:16 Church.

As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words.

A photograph is so powerful because of its unique ability to capture and freeze an exact moment and emotion in time. It captures a part of a story, locks down a memory, and evokes an emotion in the one who encounters it. In the same vein, you’d be amazed at how God can use a photograph to comfort a broken soul, lift up a burdened spirit or ignite joy in a hardened heart.

PICS stands for Photographers In Christian Service and as the name suggests, we serve God through our photography. We provide high quality photography for weekly Sunday services, baptisms, church camps and other various community events.

A celebratory scene during Easter Baptism 2016. Photograph by Austen Chua.

At Team PICS, we don’t just see ourselves as just photographers – we are also storytellers. Taking photos of the church is an amazing opportunity to tell the world the story of what church is all about. A simple shot of people praying for each other, sharing a good laugh, or even the expression of liberation seen in baptisms helps others to see God’s love and have a glimpse of what being in God’s family feels like.

Think about a diamond. To the uninitiated, if you came across one in a cave somewhere, you’d view it as nothing more than a dull rock, not worth anything. You’d likely throw it away.

Pastor Norman of 3:16 Church recites the Lord’s Prayer during service. Photograph by Tay Yi En.

But give that dull rock to a miner and he’d see its full potential. He will take it back for thorough processing, put it under immense heat and pressure, followed by another cycle of processing and cleaning. When all these processes have completed, you have what the world calls a woman’s best friend.

You’d think that God would create diamonds in their beautiful, sparkling form, but instead He hides these gems, waiting for someone to find them.

The lesson here is to first view something, or someone, in its fullest, God-given potential, then invest time and effort to polish it, place it under heat and pressure – and if the diamond is genuine, it will form and sparkle even under these difficult circumstances.

A once-in-a-lifetime feeling. Photograph by Tay Yi En.

Which brings me to my team. If you look at the photographs on the church’s website and social media platforms, I hope you’re assuming that all the pictures have been taken either by professional photographers or at least professionally trained volunteers. But that is far from the truth.

Many of the photographs were taken by volunteers who have never had any professional photography training or experience prior to Team PICS. Some don’t even own a DSLR. All they had was passion, an eagerness to serve God and a desire to learn.

A 3:16 Church Team PICS photographer at work during a prayer session. Photographed by RY.

Being an official photographer, whether in 3:16 Church or elsewhere, may seem prestigious, but the prestige comes with hard work and big responsibilities. The team has to go through on-the-job training and assessments, and have to acquaint themselves with various photography skills and equipment. The photographers had to learn to operate alone and in pairs. Practice is key and a humble spirit for continuous learning is vital.

I am very proud of our team as they have not only mastered new skills, but have also embraced the right attitude.

The team’s passion to serve, dedication to excellence, resilience to pressure and diligence in service have helped them to become the diamonds they are today.

An intimate moment backstage before Church Services gets underway. Photograph by Alvin Tan.