Many people have asked the question, "What is your favorite image?" I always respond by saying that the question is the equivalent of asking a mother which of her children she likes the best! There are, however, some images I prefer for their artistic value and others for the message they depict. When the project was being planned, I felt that some of the images needed to be included for specific messages, although I did not believe they would be purchased as fine art. I was wrong as I have been surprised by the diverse selection of images that have been purchased as fine art and as posters.
Since the time that the initial concepts were developed and followed by the creation of the images, I believe that God has opened my eyes to a depth of my understanding beyond their initial message. This "revelation" happened recently with "Ragamuffins," the image of Jesus with the children.
Each image was created as a way of depicting a message of Jesus I wanted to share. "Ragamuffins" was developed to explain why Jesus said that, "to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must come as little children (Mark 13: 13-16). As we study the scriptures and see how His Word is intertwined throughout the Bible, we come to understand that Jesus spoke of this same "condition" in the first of The Beatitudes which began His "Sermon on the Mount" - referring to the "poor in spirit," or, like little children, those who were humbled to receive the gift of "the Kingdom," recognizing it was not a gift they could give themselves or achieve on their own.
Using the Sassi di Matera in Italy as a backdrop - an area that would look the way we would imagine 1st Century Jerusalem - we selected children from the region that would be both appealing and diverse in appearance. One of the children, the girl in Jesus lap, is dressed in modern-day clothing, a style we developed to link the relevance of each image to our world today.
Trying to photograph one child is often difficult. Directing four children in a photograph is nearly impossible; that is, unless you have the creative mind of God art directing. So, for about an hour after the shot was set up, I encouraged the children to move about, while getting our actor to interact with them. Our actor, Sergio, loves children and, within minutes, developed a report with the children that allowed them the confidence that they could trust him. It is the same desire of our Heavenly Father.