Taking Pictures of Angels

Can you believe some individuals are actually paid to take pictures of angels? In fact there are five photographers who have been granted three-year stints to take as many pictures of angels in the air as they possibly can! I’m not kidding.

I don’t suppose telling you I read it in the news helps a whole lot. So let me quickly add that the angelic photo subjects are the Blue Angels, the crack U.S. Navy flight team that performs its high air acrobatics for gaping (and sometimes gasping) crowds the world over. Five Navy petty officers are granted the privilege (wait till you read what they have to go through before you agree it’s a privilege) of sitting in the cockpit seat directly behind the pilot of that trademark blue and yellow-streaked F-18 Hornet. Their mission? Capture heart-stopping images of the six-fighter jet team of Blue Angels in twirling spinning action.

Want to enlist for the chance? All you need is a working camera and a working faith in the combat veteran pilot who’s sitting in front of you, executing split second decisions at 700 mph while flying in formation with three other blue and yellow fighter jets roaring beside you six inches away! You’ll also need an iron stomach, because during spins, turns and other maneuvers you and your pilot will experience 7.5 times normal gravity, turning your 10 pound camera into what feels like 75 pounds in your hands. And by the way, Blue Angels pilots and their cockpit photographers do not wear g-suits, “designed to keep someone from passing out by pushing blood toward the head using inflatable bladders in the legs” (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/photographers-capture-landmarks-skylines-blue-angels-35124758). Because of the very tight maneuver formations, the pilots must maintain total control of the flight stick without being interfered by the bulky suit bladders. And so both pilot and photographer to remain physically fit and learn breathing techniques to avoid passing out. Navy photographer Andrea Perez, who has thrown up and passed out in the back seat, observes: “‘It helps to be focused on the lens and not worried about what is going on outside—whether the ground is above your head or whether you are spinning in circles’” (ibid).

So much for the Blue Angels, but what about the White Angel that flies in formation with you 24/7 (see Matthew 28:3)? The angel that, according to Jesus, was assigned to you at birth (see Matthew 18:10). The angel that, according to the psalmist, has been your personal guardian for just as long (see Psalm 34:7). The angel the Bible describes as “a flame of fire” just beyond the veil of human sight (see Psalm 104:4). What about your celestial companion right now, standing beside you as you read these words? Will you ever be close enough to take that selfie with him?

In this year’s devotional book, Maranatha, Karen and I read this week: “Every redeemed one will understand the ministry of angels in his own life. The angel who was his guardian from his earliest moment; the angel who watched his steps, and covered his head in the day of peril; the angel who was with him in the valley of the shadow of death, who marked his resting place, who was the first to greet him in the resurrection morning—what will it be to hold converse with him” (314). To come face to face at last with this Being who has selflessly devoted every waking (and sleeping) moment of your life to provide supernatural care and protection exclusively for you—can you imagine the thrill of meeting your Angel one day!

The only greater thrill will be to come face to face with the King of Angels, whose nail-scarred hand on the day you were born pointed your angel to you with this two-word mission: “Save him” “Save her.” The King and His angel—one day sooner than you think you will be in the presence of both. And can you imagine the pictures you’ll be taking!