We are thrilled to have our current series of Gospel Songs paired with a set of photos by photographer Benj Haisch.
What is the first photo you ever remember taking? Any good?
In 2005, I went on a 3 month trip to India with YWAM and it was my first experience with a camera that I can really remember. I had 756MB of memory on a little point and shoot for the entire trip, but that trip is really what sparked my interest in photography in the first place. I blogged those photos a few years ago if anyone is interested. I’d say I did a decent job of only showing the one’s that aren’t terrible.
You have an ongoing Instagram series called “This Week at Church,” that is super intriguing considering the diverse crowd of people you attract. Tell us a little bit about why you do it.
Before I was a photographer, I worked doing music and media at a church full time, which meant that I had lots of opportunities to talk to people of my church, but had lots of other friends in ministry at other churches. I loved getting together with those friends periodically and hearing what’s going on in their churches, what they’re learning, and how things were going with them. It made me wonder what else everyone else across the country and world was being impacted by, so I started posting little “nuggets” [as one of my pastors used to call them] onto my Instagram under the #thisweekatchurch hashtag and then started encouraging others to do the same. Like you mentioned, my audience is fairly diverse, so I often try to keep things simple and easily consumable with song lyrics, short verses, or quotes I heard at church, studies, or interactions with others that week. My goal with these is to share small bits of God’s great love for us to those who don’t believe and to encourage and remind those of us who do.
What role do gospel songs play in your life?
Music in general has been an enormous part of my life for as long as I can remember. I memorize music very easily and often have a song stuck in my head. That means for me personally, I have the opportunity to continually remind myself of God’s goodness and grace to me through song throughout the day. One of my favorite things to do is what I consider to be gospel song studies. I’ll take every line of a song, figure out what concept it is trying to tell me, and look up some of the passages in scripture where that particular concept is talked about. On a corporate level, I also feel that playing/singing/listening to gospel music together with other believers is incredibly unifying, people coming together and proclaiming truths of scripture in unison. I love it.
How often do you find gospel songs or even music in general influencing you as a photographer?
I’m often traveling solo for my work over weekends, meaning I miss Sunday services more times than not. Because of this, I’m super thankful for the resources like podcasts and great gospel centered music to take with me. Travel can be an absolute pain, but long flights and car rides can often be incredibly meditative for me. When I’m out scouting locations, I’ll often bring a set of head phones as well. I feel like music and photography can easily go hand in hand for me. I feel like I actually have slight synesthesia in that many songs have a very particular visual feel/mood/color/aesthetic to them, so I’ll often try to match the music I’m listening to my surroundings.
As a photographer with a large and growing following, what is the main thing you hope people take away from your art?
With my work that I put out there on social media my big takeaway would hopefully be to the things that ultimately matter in life. Especially with things like my #thisweekatchurch posts, I feel like photography has been what has given my permission into people’s lives via this little rectangle we keep in our pockets. The posts aren’t typically massive paragraphs, but I’m hoping that a solid photo will stop someone from quick-scrolling long enough to see a glimpse into what ultimately makes me tick.
Any last words?
I’ll just end with saying that one of the biggest things I hear from believers who follow me in real life is how they love how I share my faith online, but they’re too scared to do the same thing, worried that it will affect their business/career. It’s just a bummer for me that people seem to keep something that is such an important part of their lives completely hidden other than maybe a “saved by grace” line in their bio or something. People share all sorts of content about all of the other things they experience in life, why should faith be any different? For my audience, I just try not to get too preachy and like I said earlier, I try to keep the content fairly “consumable” by the masses. Thanks!
I’m a big fan of coffee dates with my wife, the great outdoors, hiking, good music, sunny days, last minute trips, and Apple products. I love Jesus, my wife, photography [obviously], playing music, traveling, experiencing new cultures, my family, and helping others. Visit benjhaisch.com to check out my work.