Some may prefer the minimalist approach to backgrounds for worship songs (one beach sunset for the whole song,or even the service); but I like to select a background that works with the specific verse or chorus or concepts which unfold during the song.

I am an amateur photographer, so I have about 20,000 pictures from nature, in many moods.  But when the song gets Jesus-specific, I fall short.  A perusal of Internet images yields almost nothing.  I would call most of it Anti-Art.  I think most of it is done by the same people that make New Age dolphin sunrises with saturation permanently set on "Max".  The funky "Truckin' with the Lord" things we scribbled on our transparencies in the 70's were better.

Have any of you had success with organizations that offer royalty-free images for paying into a club (with a come-on of so many free images to entice you)?  Or do they prove to be the same tiresome thing?  Have you produced anything with your own church people and materials?  We're talking fairly low-tech here, no big bucks for environment-creating imagery that turns your church into Yosemite (though I'd love it... I think). 

Feel welcome to share any ideas, joys, experiences and caveats.

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Not the most user friendly site but if it's free images (Creative Commons) you're looking for this site is pretty good:

http://allthefreestock.com/

What kind of images were you after Greg? In the 'bad old days' last year we'd have stuff like spectacular clouds with crepuscular rays shooting through, big mountains with storm clouds etc for those bits.

Etc. (I notice that I don't exactly have anything fitting those descriptions online!).

I have no shortage of things from nature.  It's Biblical stories - Jesus healing someone, or people caring for one another, or actual shepherds (I've used some modern ones - Turkish guys smoking cigarettes, that kind of thing).  So I often use color or some tangentially-related idea, like "Who ami I, that You are mindful of me?" (Psalm 8, and "Friend of God"), I have a progression that starts with a tent caterpillar going around a flower box, then works into my sister and her hubby peering through an opening of a cave, then my granddaughter in silhouette walking alone on a long pier, and then finally her dad and her in a field of sunflowers.  Or I might put the thing in the inner city, with large dark places for text, and relevant signs (One Way, No Exit, etc.) looming out of the murk (you can do a lot for photo-slides with the darkeners and clone tools). Here's a few backgrounds I'm going to try to post on here for association with some of the concepts in a song:  The last could be put at the right side, say, with text as "Water you turned into wine, opened the eyes of the blind..." (Our God) at the left, with perhaps white letters on burgundy background.  If you shade the letters as deeply as the software will allow you, you can put text over a light sky, like the Oregon coast scene that opens the imagination up to heaven at the right of the frame.  The first one, which is the inside of a day lily (I've reproduced it in dozens of varieties of color and texture), can be used with any text that describes beauty.  If I have successive slides of similar idea, I crop and enlarge part so the background doesn't remain quite static, but zooms you in and out of a scene, all the while being sure to keep an attractive and large dark space for white text to be easily visible.  I normally use 40-size font, enough for most vocal lines - and never, ever wrap text, but make each length precise to its environment on the screen.

Toni said:

What kind of images were you after Greg? In the 'bad old days' last year we'd have stuff like spectacular clouds with crepuscular rays shooting through, big mountains with storm clouds etc for those bits.

Etc. (I notice that I don't exactly have anything fitting those descriptions online!).

Attachments:

By the way, those are REALLY fine pictures.  You are great with a lens -- and those you've shown could handle text magnificently!  Well, I might have trouble with the gold-misty tree; but it could be for one or two key lines at the close of the song.  "Forever... forever."

Toni said:

What kind of images were you after Greg? In the 'bad old days' last year we'd have stuff like spectacular clouds with crepuscular rays shooting through, big mountains with storm clouds etc for those bits.

Etc. (I notice that I don't exactly have anything fitting those descriptions online!).

We have a pretty weak projector and a big window right next to the screen, so I don't think I'd be able to use any of these in our situation - even with contrasting "outlines" on the letters, I don't think lyrics would be readable.  We do just do one background for a whole song.

One thing we have going on is that our pastor is into the liturgical seasons and colors:

http://gbod-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/legacy/kintera-files/worship/20...

...and so when the sanctuary is decorated in blue for Advent, we try to use blue backgrounds on the MediaShout slides as much as we can.  Since MS picks up its graphics by "reference" rather than importing them, I've been trying to create a directory of "slides for the current season" - if it's Lent, they'll all have a purplish theme, but then when Easter arrives, I'll just swap in a whole different set of backgrounds (with matching names, like "BG-songwhite1.jpg" as an appropriately dark background for a song with white text) so that we don't have to update all the slide backgrounds each season - by changing the image files, they update automatically.  Not entirely successful at this yet, but getting there.

As far as going out and finding images on the internet, one of the big problems I have is figuring out the copyright status of a given "wallpaper" image.  Since we don't do things specific to songs, I don't need pictures of Jesus, just "something in a dark red 'cause it's Pentecost," and if search on "red wallpaper" I generally find a bunch of things.  If somebody has bothered to put a copyright (or a visible watermark) on an image, I usually skip that one, but I will admit that I don't go to the source site for each image and check on their copyright policy.  And because of our projector issues, I usually wind up pulling the images into gimp (free photoshop) and darkening or lightening them, resizing to 800x600, etc.

By the way, just to brag for a moment... last Sunday I had to swap out our MediaShout computer for the backup machine we keep in the closet (which, fortunately, I had been updating at home the past couple weeks) about 20 minutes before  the first service.  We made it through, although I was sitting there completing the last-half-of-service stuff for the traditional service during the sermon :-) The worst part of the whole process was actually when I tried just rebooting our regular machine and it came back up saying, "Installing update 1 of 97 - do not turn off the machine."  By the time I knew the regular machine wasn't going to work, it was about 20 minutes before service started...

I put in one of the window-blockers that we use for drama (they were good-looking and I didn't ask anybody, just did it one Sunday morning, and it worked).

I do the same in regard to copyrights.  And without photoshop to work on the originals, most of this would be in vain.

I feel your pain.  The very first time I tried multimedia was a musical on the End Times, with appropriate slides, maybe 70-75 slides, behind each song and scene, which I had created by taking photographs from magazines, and my own artwork.  The climax had pictures of Nazis marching prisoners away during the Antichrist scene.  Yup!  A good old Arizona brown-out, which zapped the projector and it went back to slide #1.  I could see, out of the corner of my eye, every single slide reprojected as the operator valiantly tried to catch up to the score.

The background file is an excellent idea.  There is a program, Pro Presenter, that has an intelligent system of separate libraries for song and background, which can be inserted at will; and all slides of any song are visible, with the choruses, verses, etc., color-coded by you, not a machine, so you know what is what.  Except I believe you still have to have a Mac (and a good-sized monitor) to run the thing.

Hey, I know this is old, but I thought I would answer for anyone who might still see this. I am a photographer/graphic design artist who's sister is a worship leader. I became aware of the need for worship backgrounds for worship leaders and pastors whose churches don't have it in the budget to pay for them. I started creating my own backgrounds as a ministry, and give them away as a free resource to worship leaders and pastors. They are available for free downloads on my flickr account. Here is a link to all of my backgrounds, https://flic.kr/s/aHsjC8edsL  and here is a link to just my abstract worship backgrounds https://flic.kr/s/aHsjCXHA7j  

I hope this is a blessing to some of you! Hannah (Sapphire Dream Photography). 

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