Ministry and Photography: Area Man’s Passions Lead to Juried State Exhibition

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT) A Punxsutawney man’s passions for his ministry and his photography go hand-in-hand and have taken him to many amazing places.

(Photos courtesy of Kyle Yates Photography)

Kyle Yates was born and raised in Brookville where he grew up with an appreciation for the natural beauty around him in the area.

Following high school, he went to college in Florida where he earned a degree in ministry; however, he also discovered another passion. He had already learned a bit about film editing in high school, but in college, he became interested in photography.

He had a camera at the time, but it was a film camera, so he asked for a digital camera from his family for Christmas the next year. He received a nice Kodak camera, and his journey then began.

“I went out and took a photo of a sunrise that I really liked, so I showed it to one of my professors. He forwarded it to the vice president of the college, who, without my knowledge, submitted it to a local art show,” said Yates.

Before he even knew what had happened, he received a call saying he’d won first place in a competition he never even realized he had entered.

While he was already set on his ministry major, Yates took some communications classes in college, from classes on photoshop to classes on radio and ended up declaring a minor in communications.

“God moved in me and said ‘You were good with editing film in high school. I’m going to move you into media and communications.’ It’s strange how God married ministry and media together for me,” explained Yates.

Following the losses of his father and grandfather, Yates received a small inheritance, and while he used some of it to pay down debt, he was also able to set aside some of the money for his first professional camera. He was determined to teach himself everything he could about High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging.

“I primarily take photos of everything that honors and glories God,” he notes. “That could be nature, architecture, marriage, families. I call it a paying hobby. Yes, I have a small business, but my first job is as a minister of the Gospel.”

Yates currently preaches at the Scotland Avenue Church of God in Punxsutawney, while also maintaining his own photography business for most of his landscape and artwork photos, and booking through Everlasting Productions for wedding and similar-type photography.

While he enjoys an entire range of photography projects, Yates says one of his favorite things is doing nature photography in a lot of the beautiful places in the region: Freedom Falls and Potter Falls in Venango County; Rapp Run Falls in Clarion; and Clear Creek and Cook Forest parks.

Kyle Yates waterfall

He’s also enjoyed a recent project involving the Jefferson County Courthouse.

“With the Jefferson County Courthouse turning 150 this year, I’ve gotten to photograph more of the courthouse. The commissioners have allowed me into some rarely seen parts of the courthouse to take photos.”

He not only travels all over the region taking photographs, but he also gets to travel to a multitude of art shows around the region, as well. He shows his photographs at art shows from New Castle and Oil City up through Titusville, as well as the Laurel Art and Photo Show in Brookville and the Art in the Park Show in New Bethlehem, and a range of area fairs.

He also travels outside the local region for some very special events.

Yates is contracted to take photographs for the American Veterans’ Center (AVC) in Washington, D.C. He not only works as a staff photographer along the parade line of the Memorial Day Parade but also is able to take photographs at American Valor, which is the closing event of the American Veterans Center’s Annual Conference and an Emmy-winning televised program that shares the stories of America’s greatest heroes.

Kyle Yates AVC

Through his work for the AVC, Yates has met a number of celebrities and real American military heroes, including Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, the last living participant of World War II’s Doolittle Raid, who passed away just last year.

“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of interesting people through that,” Yates noted.

Even with his busy schedule with his church and his photography, he still finds time to continue submitting his work to shows and competitions, as well.

He has submitted to The State Museum of Pennsylvania’s annual “Art of the State” juried show every year since 2014. He had a photograph juried into the statewide competition in 2015, but hasn’t had another accepted again until this year.

He was recently informed he has been juried into The State Museum of Pennsylvania’s “Art of the State 2019” for a black and white photo of the remodeled Indiana Theater in Indiana, Pa.

Indiana-Theater_Kyle Yates

“I was kind of surprised,” Yates said. “I’ve submitted some of what I think are some of my top photos, and they didn’t get selected, but this year, I just threw in a photo of a theatre that is now a church, and they chose it.”

The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation invite artists and artisans to submit applications to exhibit their work each year in Art of the State exhibition which boasts a tradition of presenting highly creative art chosen by a distinguished panel of jurors.

The exhibition will run from June 23 to September 8 at The State Museum in Harrisburg. Artists will compete in five categories: painting, work on paper, photography, sculpture, and craft. An awards juror will determine the prize winners in each of the categories.


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