In Inter-America, First Adventist Photographers Conference Trains Communicators in Cuba

Group of photographers and church members during the second day of the Adventist Photographers Conference held in Cárdenas Adventist Church in Cárdenas, Matanzas, Cuba, Sep. 1-2, 2017. Image by Abel Márquez/IAD

September 7, 2017 | Cárdenas, Matanzas, Cuba | Libna Stevens/IAD

Abel Márquez, IAD communication director, speaks during the conference next to Dayami Rodríguez, communication director for the church in Cuba. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

Dozens of eager Seventh-day Adventists from across Cuba and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean convened for the Adventist Photographers Conference last weekend at the Cárdenas Adventist Church in Cárdenas, Matanzas, Cuba.

The event, a first-of its-kind sponsored by the Inter-American Division’s (IAD) Communication department in collaboration with the top church leadership in Cuba, brought training to the more than 80 in attendance. The goal was to teach the participants how to become more creative with visual communication in fulfilling the mission in their local churches and communities.

Presentations on creativity, photojournalism, storytelling, cinematography, advertising photography, and more were part of the two-day conference, held Sep. 1-2, 2017.

Dan Weber, communication director for the church in North America. Image by LIbna Stevens/IAD

“Our main objective was to provide training and a space for Adventist photographers in Inter-America to exchange ideas with the great artistic potential of local photographers in the cultural context on the island,” said Abel Márquez, communication director and main organizer of the event. The event was supporting an organized initiative organized locally to boost photo sharing across the church in Cuba, he said.

“They can see with their eyes and learn next to expert Adventist photographers outside of Cuba to better contribute to the church they love and serve,” said Dayami Rodríguez, communication director for the church in Cuba.

For most [people in Cuba], it’s nearly impossible to have access to the internet and learn about photography and visual communication, said Rodríguez. “There’s hardly any available spots for internet connection and it can cost 50 pesos for just one hour of connection,” she explained.

“With an average monthly salary of about 150 CUC pesos, and costs of about 13 pesos [or $10 US dollars] just to send an image of 2 megs through text, it’s really hard for them [photographers] to share and improve their skills and learn from others,” said Rodríguez.

Attendees during the conference on Sabbath, Sep. 2, 2017. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

The conference also provided an opportunity to organize an Adventist photographers association on the island to better support the church in communicating events and activities to members and the surrounding communities, explained Rodríguez.

Carlos Regueiferos traveled nearly 700 kilometers from his home in Santiago to attend the conference. Regueiferos, like many other attendees, had to travel up to 20 hours to the event.

At 53 years old, Regueiferos has been supporting himself and his family by taking portrait photos ever since he was given an instamatic camera in the late 1990s. He’s saved money and now uses a Nikon digital camera that has helped his business and helped document the growth and community impact that takes place at two Adventist Churches he leads as head church elder in Santiago de Cuba.

“I want to document more programs at church, not only with photography, but with video as we have been challenged during this conference,” said Regueiferos who loves taking pictures and is passionate about serving the church. He has made plans to put a team together to better cover the initiatives and activities in his church and the community it impacts.

Carlos Regueiferos of Santiago de Cuba traveled nearly 700 kilometers to attend the conference in Cardenas. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

“It’s all about using the talents and tools we have at hand to benefit the church,” he said. “I just want to continue being an instrument for God and His church.”

Honing those talents is what will propel the church to be more informed island-wide, said Rodríguez. “It may take us a little longer to communicate but we have a good communication system working through our conferences and churches and feel better equipped to move forward with our mission of sharing the hope and the love of Jesus.”

The church in Cuba puts together a digital bulletin and a printed news bulletin that is distributed with the Sabbath School quarterly materials throughout the island four times a year.

The conference also provided an opportunity for an additional television production project training across the island after the event, explained Márquez. Hope Channel Inter-America, with its collaborative initiative to support media centers throughout the IAD, is lending HD equipment for the church’s media center in Havana.

Abel Márquez (right) presents Pastor Aldo Perez, president of the church in Cuba and wife Dayami Rodríguez, the new equipment for upcoming programs from Cuba to be featured on the Hope Channel Inter-America network. Jorge Diaz (3rd left) and Lizbeth Elejalde of Montemorelos University look on during the presentation. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

The television project will showcase stories and testimonies by church members in Cuba through a reality type production that will be featured through the Hope Channel Inter-America network, explained Márquez.

Sam Neves, associate communication director for the Adventist world church, encouraged Adventist photographers during the event to answer the divine calling of serving the church.

“You must use your gift to fulfill the mission God has given you,” said Neves. “Don’t cross your arms with the gift God has given you…you’re a creative disciple, use your gifts.” Neves encouraged attendees to share that passion and involve younger people and children in church to develop a new generation of creative disciples.

Developing a new generation of creative disciples is what Pastor Alexis Vázquez, 27, of Costa Rica will take back home after the event. Vázquez ministers to three churches and a group, and is the communication director for the church in North Costa Rica, where in addition assists as the webmaster, graphic designer and video editor. Getting to know the technology needs in Cuba made him realize how it may be taken for granted back home.

Pastor Sam Neves, communication director for the Adventist world church. Image by Gregorio Vázquez/IAD

“I want to take the same vision to photographers back home to focus on transmitting the message of hope and salvation through their photographs and videos,” said Vázquez, who was one of six from Costa Rica who attended the conference.

“This event sets the tone for future events like this one, which obeys the strategy we have of integration and convergence in communication,” said Márquez. “Its about motivating creative disciples to use their profesional, technical and creative talents to fulfill the mission of the church, sharing the message using all kinds of means of communication.”

Conference keynote speakers and presenters included: Sam Neves, associate communication director for the Adventist world church; Dan Weber, communication director of the North American Division; Abel Márquez, communication director and Libna Stevens, assistant communication director at the IAD; Jorge Díaz and Lizbeth Elejalde, professors at Montemorelos University; as well as Fabricio Rivera, communication director for church in El Salvador.

To view photos of Inter-America’s Adventist Photographers Conference, click HERE

This post is also available in: French Spanish

Categories From the Headquarter, RSS English | Tags: | Posted on September 7, 2017