God and Art Series: God gives artist hope with photography

With the onset of summer and family vacations, it seemed appropriate to interview a photographer who takes pictures of places. Kim E, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, a photographer, a writer, and a teacher, owns Road Ahead Photos on Etsy. In the future, if you see Kim as identified by her picture at right, you'll definitely recognize her because she "always has a camera in her hand."

"I have loved photography since I was a small child," Kim says. "There was just something about trying to capture a moment . . . a special image that I didn't want to forget. I can't remember a moment when I did not have a camera in my hand.

"One of my favorite things to take photos of is the outdoors and nature. I especially love photographing the ocean. There is something so majestic about it. I learned as a small child to look at life as I was looking through a camera lens - there is so much beauty in this world that God created! I also have a passion for classic cars. I love angles and corners and love trying to grab an out of the ordinary photograph. My camera . .or cameras - I have two - usually go everywhere I go. They are a part of who I am," Kim says.

As she grew up, Kim took photography classes in high school  was on the yearbook staff. She was also trained to teach dark room photography at summer camp, which she did for many summers. "Nowadays I have moved on to digital but I still love the joy that comes with watching a photograph appear in the chemicals," Kim says. "I also took around 15 units of photography in college when I couldn't decide on a major."

Kim has known Jesus Christ since she was eight years old and has considered her life an adventure, although it hasn't been perfect. "I grew up around the Christian Camping Ministry and started working in camps when I was 13," she says. "In college I received my degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing. Unable to find a full time job I went back into Christian camping in my home town of Big Bear Lake, California. During this time I taught Outdoor Education and found myself suddenly traveling to a variety of camps up and down the west coast and even spent 9 months working at a Christian camp in Australia."

After getting laid off from a camp in Oregon, Kim went back to school in order to obtain her teaching certificate. She then began teaching in California and suffered two more lay offs. "I was devastated and unsure if this was the field God wanted me to go into," Kim says.

Unable to find work, Kim packed up her belongings and moved to New Mexico where her parents were located.   "Immediately I was offered a job as a Kindergarten teacher at a small Christian school in the inner city area of Albuquerque. The job was an hour drive one way but I took it! For six years I was known as 'Miss Kim kindergarten teacher.'  I loved every moment of time there. I have stories and memories that will last a lifetime." 

In the spring of 2011 everything changed for Kim when officials at the school announced that the school would close because of financial reasons. "After six years of teaching I found myself once again without a job.  Those next few months were very difficult and it took a lot of trusting on my part. I had to believe that God still had a plan for me."

In fact, the verse that got Kim says got her through those difficult times was Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.

"I held onto those promises. Little did I know how tough the next few months would be. I sent out over 800 resumes and applications and was not able to find a teaching position for the 2011-12 school year. I had to trust that God would turn this into something good . . .that he would get me through to the next step," Kim says. "I wasn't quite sure what to do as I was unable to find a job anywhere. In January I decided to branch out on my own and started my own tutoring business so I could continue to work with the children I was missing. I also went and got a business license for photography. My passion and desire to take photographs just came back ten fold. A friend of mine that I worked with in Australia many years ago, Hannah from Bananaorangeapple, encouraged me to open up an Etsy shop to sell my fabulous photographs. So, in January of 2012 with the support and love of friends and family I did!

"I'm still not where I want to be and finances have been tight but I'm so thankful God has given me this time. He has gotten me this far and I know he will get me to the next step as well. The name of my shop comes from the fact that you never know where the road ahead will lead! I'm looking at life as an adventure and am excited to see what path God is going to lead me to next! I have a blog, Adventures on the Road Ahead where I share my story, my testimony and my journey. I pray I can be an example to someone else who is going through tough times," she says.

Kim's photography can be found on her Etsy store, Facebook page and her blog. She is also participating in local craft fairs. "This past fall I received a phone call from my local Sam's Club asking if they could use one of my photographs on display in their photography department. Here is the photo they are using:
Hot Air Balloon in the Clouds. This photo is being used as an example of their photos on canvas. There are five of these on display in five different sizes. They told me that this is the first time they had ever chosen a photograph from a customer. I was very honored!"

To other artists, Kim emphasizes that they should never give up. "We don't know what the future will hold but you need to trust and believe that God has a marvelous plan ahead for you! Things will get tough but don't let those down times bring you down and make you feel that your work is insignificant. You need to keep moving ahead on the path that God has laid before you. You never know what kind of exciting adventures you will discover when you take that first step," Kim says.

In the future, Kim would like to teach again. She would also like to return to school and take more photography classes. "Photography has really become my passion as of late and I can't wait to see what will happen next!" she says.