For Sam Richmann, photography isn't just a hobby, but a way to give back to others.
Through photography, he hopes to serve as a voice for the voiceless in other countries.
Next month Richmann will participate in Youth With a Mission (YWAM), a discipleship training program for the arts. While YWAM has several different programs for people with different skills, Richmann's program is called PhotogenX and focuses on photography.
Richmann, who finished school last year, leaves April 3 for Kona, Hawaii. There, he'll spend three months completing the lecture phase of the program. Every day, Richmann will attend classes, lectures and seminars and complete homework assignments.
"I'll just be like, really focusing in on my own spirituality and my relationship with God and just finding myself," he said.
After completing the lecture phase, Richmann will spend the following six months to a year doing an outreach phase. He is unsure where he will go.
"That whole time while I'm there, I'll just pray about it and see where I feel like I should go, and then I choose which country or countries... that I'll go and do all that," Richmann said.
During his outreach phase, Richmann hopes to use his photography to help others and "culturally transform" people.
"We sit back here in America, and everything's great. I mean we are so spoiled living here. And nobody knows really how it is and how these people are feeling. We just see, oh these people are struggling... They don't have the means to speak up for themselves all the time," he said. "So I want to go and through photography kind of show that and help through that be a voice for them and then bring it back to everyone here."
Richmann said he has always loved taking pictures, because it allows him to "capture the world."
"It's more of an outlet to bring the world in a different perspective to people and a way for me to share my heart with others and to bless others too," he said.
Students must apply to participate in YWAM. The application process includes writing essays and getting letters of recommendation.
The program is geared toward adults ages 18 to 30 years old. About 70 other students from all over the world will be in Richmann's program. Richmann will live in a dorm with other students during his stay.
"It's a super awesome cultural experience," he said. "It's a super tight community, all with like one goal, so that's exciting."
In the future, Richmann plans to make a documentary about his travels and the people he meets.
"The gist of it would just be showing the hurt in the world, showing the beauty in people without masking any of the pain that they're feeling, and making everything that our society has hidden up and kind of put under the rug visible," he said.
Through the documentary, Richmann hopes to inspire young people to follow their dreams.
"Anything is possible, don't be held down by the place that you're in because there's a huge world out there and nothing can hold you back from what you love to do," he said. "And if you follow what you love to do, you'll always find a way to survive from doing it."
Richmann's photography can be seen at gasmaskphotography.com or on his blog at onthecornerofhereandthere.tumblr.com.
To raise money for his trip, Richmann will put on a donation-based spaghetti lunch March 24 at 12:30 p.m. at Canyon Chapel, 720 W. Sheridan Ave. The lunch will include vegetarian or meat spaghetti, bread and salads. To-go boxes are also available.
More information about Richmann's trip or ways to support it is available at (928) 853-4912 or firstname.lastname@example.org.