My Best Picture

I was recently going back through my images from Jordan’s shoot and stumbled upon this gem.  I was immediately struck by her simple pose and all of the hands holding her up.  A simple test shot, taken as I prepared the lighting and as the final touches were performed on her dress.  

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than talented!  

There is a part of me that feels this is one of the best images I have ever shot.  I have often said that I wasn’t satisfied with my photography when I started Anything Can Be.  I have even said that dabbling in fashion photography, weddings and family portraiture was a meaningless pursuit.  That is probably more of an indictment of my own work rather than the industry as a whole.  There are some fashion images or wedding images that are extremely powerful and meaningful.  I have a number of friends who find great comfort and strength working in those fields.  A beautiful wedding image or family portrait,  no doubt has a place and purpose.  Doesn’t change the fact that my work in those fields oftentimes made me feel empty, like I wasn't utilizing my talent for the right purpose.  I am proud of that work, it helped me become the photographer I am now.  But I was still searching for meaning in my work, I wanted more.  I really believed that my talent could be used for a lot more.  

So back to Jordan’s image and the purpose of this post!

I see hope, sacrifice, strength, courage, fight, determination, legacy and love when I look at this image.  I could never say that about much of my photography prior to this project.  Despite the pain that racked her body, Jordan insisted on standing up for her photo-shoot.  It took three people to hold her steady.  It took her a half hour to get dressed.  But she insisted on standing up.  About 2 weeks after this image was taken, Jordan passed away…

A lot of people are going to share statistics about pediatric cancer this month.  I will probably share a few of those things as well.  They are important, they raise awareness, they help fuel funding.  That in turn will eventually lead to a cure.  But statistics don’t tell the whole story.  They don’t shed light on the human side of the fight.  

My hope is that this image and others like it can help you dig deeper and find the courage behind the numbers.  Let those feelings stir something in you, let that fester for a bit and realize that this cause is important and that you can do something about it.  Maybe it is hard to talk about, but burying your head in the sand won’t help or change anything.  So stand up with these kids, stand up with Jordan and lets do something together.  

FINDING HOPE By Jennifer Van Leuven

FINDING HOPE By Jennifer Van Leuven

I started Anything Can Be with the desire to give people hope.  But what is hope, what does it mean for us when we go through hard times?  Does hope exist when we face enormous trials?  I think so, but don't take my word for it.  I asked Jennifer Van Leuven mother to Ethan Van Leuven to explain what hope means to her.  Just so you know Ethan passed away from cancer last year.  So if anyone can talk about this subject, it is this incredible mother and incredible woman.  She and her family are one of my heroes! 

Ethan {Batdoctor}

We try and have as much fun as possible at every photo-shoot.  But sometimes, the kids just don't feel good.  In the case of Ethan, he just didn't want to take pictures!  Frankly I can't say that I blame him.  He is fighting cancer for goodness sake.  Because Ethan loves batman, we decided to bring in Batman to help out.

I let Ethan take some pictures of Batman!  He really enjoyed that!  Image courtesy andCopyright Ethan 2014

I let Ethan take some pictures of Batman!  He really enjoyed that!  Image courtesy andCopyright Ethan 2014

Ethan liked posing with Batman as well.

Ethan liked posing with Batman as well.

Needless to say, we had some fun and were able to capture some good shots.  I was able to finish the final image prior to Ethan's passing.  I am so glad that he was able to see himself as Bat-kid.  I like to think it gave him courage and strength to face his last days.

Speaking of his last days, he has some pretty special moments prior to his passing.   His family wanted to enjoy some holidays with him one last time.  So the community gathered together and helped his family celebrate, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all within a week.  It was a testament to the strength and impact a community can have when one of their own is struggling.

You can find out more about Ethan's story and journey here.  

YOUR DONATION WILL GO DIRECTLY TO HELP A CHILD JUST LIKE EthanREALIZE A DREAM

Marley {Soccer Player}

Marley is a special addition to this book as she has not only fought cancer and overcome the disease but she is living her dream of playing soccer in college.  I wanted to included Marley and her story in the project and the book because I wanted to show examples of people who have defeated the disease and who are living their dreams.  The purpose of this project is to inspire hope in everyone that this disease can be beat, that hope exists no matter what and that dreams do come true.  Here are a couple more images of Marley!

Caimbre {Mermaid}

I had a blast shooting Caimbre's images!  She is young but full of personality and spunk!  She was not afraid to pose in her mermaid costume at all.  It may be because she is used to performing in front of others all the time as an awesome dancer.  In order to create the underwater image we had to get a little creative.  

Using a blow dryer to create the effect that her hair is flowing in the water.

Using a blow dryer to create the effect that her hair is flowing in the water.

A couple quick hair flips also helps!  She has the most incredible hair.

A couple quick hair flips also helps!  She has the most incredible hair.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to deliver Caimbre's image to her personally!

YOUR DONATION WILL GO DIRECTLY TO HELP A CHILD JUST LIKE Caimbre REALIZE A DREAM

Sophia {Librarian}

Sophi was the consummate professional during her photo-shoot!  She was just happy to be the center of attention.  When I asked what Sophi's dream was her mom couldn't really think of anything.  But she did mention that Sophi loved to read.  I loved the idea of her imagination coming alive as she read a book.  Because I was an avid reader growing up I really related to Sophi's dream and wanted to create something really special.  Her image was easily the most difficult image to create for me.  I went through numerous revisions and different ideas until I settled on this final composition.  Here are few of my rough draft failed attempts!

I liked this location but in the end it just didn't feel right.

I liked this location but in the end it just didn't feel right.

I came really close to using this background with the tree.

I came really close to using this background with the tree.

This was my first attempt at a composition.  I ended up circling around and using this background in the final image but you can barely see it.

This was my first attempt at a composition.  I ended up circling around and using this background in the final image but you can barely see it.

YOUR DONATION WILL GO DIRECTLY TO HELP A CHILD JUST LIKE Sophie REALIZE A DREAM