February 14, 2007


I posted last week but, I had a wonderful opportunity to use the talent I have been blessed with to bless someone else's life in a way I won't fully comprehend.

A dear friend of mine asked me if I would come and photograph a dear friend of him and his wife named Levi. Levi had been given days to live as he has several irremovable tumors in his brain. He is 27, married, with 3 little ones. The youngest was born the day before he had his first surgery to remove a tumor that was outside of his brain. 4, 3, 8 months.

It was the hardest shoot I have ever done. There is one chance to get images that will become absolutely priceless to these little children when they become adults. Having gone through losing a father I know how priceless images of me with him are now.

When I got there, I was told he was in the backroom. I know what my friends backroom looks like and it is no place to take a portrait worthy of what I was asked to do. His family was there (they had flown the 20+ hours from Australia) and his sister insisted that he did not want to move.

I rushed home to get lights and different cameras. I had come early enough to scout it out, set up a chair next to this wonderful light coming in.

Needless to say, when I got back, he agreed to come out and sit in the chair I had set up. The shoot went great. I was using my Twin Len Reflex camera which is a camera you look down into. I lost it half way through as I was looking down on the ground glass as his wife embraced him for their individual portrait.

It hit so close to home. He is me. He is young, married, has a family. The only difference was that when I walked out of my friends house, I had a certainty in my mind, that I would wake the next day healthy and with my family.

I shot this on Wednesday of last week. Levi made one last request. He and his family flew out Friday afternoon to go back to Australia so he could leave this world where he started it.

Life is so delicate. I hope that this Valentine's Day I can stop this fast paced life and realize that.

To me, these are some of the most meaningful images I have ever created.


Clairissa said...

This post made me cry. How beautiful those images were. Life just isn't fair. What a sweet family. thank you for sharing.

Terese said...

Wow, what a hard moment. Your photos and words are inspration.
(P.S. Remember me from July 2002?)

Rebekah said...

This story just breaks my heart. Gives me a little perspective on all the things I take for granted. The images are truly beautiful! Something the family will always cherish. Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan Canlas said...

terese...I totally remember you!

Lets see, when you came to book, your dad gave me a really hard time. Then, I can't remember where you got married but the reception was at the Alpine Art Center. Your husband was dancing and did some kind of flip and totally busted his chin or lip. I totally remember.

The funny thing that I remember the most is driving back from your reception. Looking at the sky and thinking how pretty it was and how vast Lehi/American Fork is/was. I now live right there off the highway on the westside just north or Thanksgiving Point.

Anyway, how did you find me? Its been some time.

This story is really heart wrenching. I got an update today that they are still in Australia and he really has not gotten out of bed for the last 2 days. I am not sure of much other than what I hear periodically from my friends where the shoot was done.

Life is so delicate.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonathan,
I totally understand where your coming from. I had a similar experience last year.

I cried the whole way home to my wife and kids. That wedding is one that will live with me forever.

Your photos of that family are really moving. What a wonderful gift you have given them. Your photos will forever help those children come to grips with the lose of their dad.

Well done!


Anonymous said...

those images are crushing.
i am such a softy when it comes to children and their fathers, because i am a father of a three year old. how moving and priceless these images will always be for those kids.
i love the first shot - a patriarch of his family.
the shots of his children are a haunting reality that one day their dad will be a memory, and yet the touching hand on shoulder shows that he is always present.
great job. and thanks for shaing.

Erin said...

these are beautiful. this is a wonderful thing you've done for the family.

Kate Benson said...

*chills* they are all beautifully done Jonathan... what an opportunity.

Allegra said...

Jon, as always, your work is amazing but these images are just heartbreaking. Thank you for being there for them.