A mission to share

Brian Slawson is a senior majoring in photography who also works as a student photographer for UWM Photo Services. He is passionate about using his skills as a photographer to give back to others. Brian has recently been on mission trips to Missouri, Mexico and Hawaii to build homes. He took his camera to capture his experiences, resulting in powerful photos. (Read more about the trips below the slideshow.)

Brian says inspiration from his photography instructors at UWM has driven him to take his love of photography wherever he goes. “Because of the motivation and encouragement from my photography professors here at UWM, I’ve been driven to do series work and find ways to incorporate photography into all aspects of my life,” he says.

Slawson credits the UWM film department for giving him the technical and editing skills he’s used to create video.

You can check out more of Brian’s work by visiting brianslawsonphotography.com.

About the trips

Joplin, Missouri

On May 22, 2011, a tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri killing over 120 people and leaving over 400 injured. The tornado flattened whole neighborhoods. Some 2,000 homes, businesses and school were destroyed.

In August 2011, Brian and two friends traveled to Joplin to help rebuild. They stayed at a local church, and met a group of volunteers from different states. During the day they helped rebuild a damaged house, as well as gave out food, toiletries and cleaning supplies to victims. At night they roamed the city and photographed the heartbreaking destruction that used to be people’s homes.

Acuna, Mexico

Although you hear a lot about Mexico in the news, you don’t hear about Acuna. Acuna is located near the border of Del Rio, TX, and is not a typical tourist location. There are many areas of extreme poverty with limited electricity and no indoor plumbing.

In late September 2011, professional photographers from all over the US came together to form a group called PhotoServe. This group partnered with a ministry called Casas Por Cristo, and together they built a house for a family in Acuna, Mexico in less than a week. They also made a photo album for the family, which the family had never had before.

Wahiawa, Hawaii

In mid-January of 2012 a group from the River Church of Delevan, WI partnered with the ministry Love As Jesus Missions to go to Wahiawa, Hawaii for a week.  In Wahiawa the group worked with the organization Surfing the Nations to help do work projects on site, feed the hungry, help with children’s programming and produce a music video. They also spent time meeting local people of Wahiawa, hearing their stories and learning about their culture.

The music video was intended to help reach out to local youth.  A group of young dancers called the Galaxy Invaders only had cell phone quality videos prior to the professional quality one that was produced for them that week.  Brian and his brother had the vision for this, and with the help of the team, the video was made within only two days. You can see the video here: http://vimeo.com/35589290

Brian is thankful for financial and prayer support from his family and friends for all of these mission trips.

Stay tuned for where he might be called to  next.