In September of 2012, I was contacted by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation (childhood cancer charity) to photograph a VERY special boy (and his family) named Matthias. You may recognize this foundation for their head shaving events. Matthias was chosen to be ONE of FIVE of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Ambassadors for 2013 because of his journey with cancer. At 3 1/2 months old Matthias was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both eyes and had to undergo six months of chemotherapy treatments and various other procedures. Because the tumors were vast and growing, he had to have both eyes removed before his first birthday. Now, he has the most beautiful set of prosthetic blue eyes and lives a cancer free life full of joy and adventure.
I’m not going to lie, I was SOOO nervous for this photo shoot. I had a long list of specific shots to capture and my subject was blind?! I’d never photographed a blind person, let alone a blind four year old child. How would I ever get him to pay attention to me? He won’t be able to fall for any of my tricks because he can’t see me! Well, guess what. I was dead wrong. Upon meeting his family, I knew all was going to be just fine. Matthias was very sweet but also just as ornery as any other four year old boy. I was able to use my handy dandy “reverse psychology” most of the session to get him to stay involved. His lack of vision did not stand in the way of him acting like a seeing child. In fact, I was astounded at the things he COULD do!! He could go up stairs, jump off them, ride a bike, use a sit and spin and even climb a rock wall at the park. Seriously?? Many children with perfect vision are not even capable of all those activities. And don’t get me started on his intelligence. I’m sure part of his success is due to his fight for life from birth but the other part is most definitely from his amazing parents pushing him to the limit in every way. They do not use the excuse that his disability is a reason for weakness and over protectiveness. Instead, they face the harsh reality that Matthias HAS to live a big world full of a family and a future of people who can see. They don’t want him to miss out on opportunities because he never tried or said “I can’t”. SO with great encouragement they push. And guess what?
Look at these beautiful blue eyes…. they were crafted after his mother’s eyes. Right here I think we were probably talking about fire trucks and sirens.
He made it to the top of the rock wall into his mother’s arms.
Their family chose to have their photo session at Cool Creek Park. We went down to their favorite part of the creek where the boys love to throw rocks at the metal beam. Matthias has a heightened sense of sound and gets a kick out of hearing his rocks hit the beam. They are also the type of people NOT afraid to get dirty if it means they have fun doing it! Definitely my kind of people.
Magnus and Matthias have a lot of fun together just like any other set of brothers close in age. They love and argue their way through life.
I think Matthias has a heightened sense of touch too. He was in HEAVEN!
I have been inspired by Matthias and his family. I left their session motivated to challenge myself and my family for more. If Matthias can do it and overcome his challenges then so can I! Thank you Matthias for showing me up!
Please take a moment and visit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website and the Ambassadors page where you will find Matthais and four others who have been touched by childhood cancer. I’ve also linked this great video that shares how St. Baldrick’s Foundation is fighting to conquer childhood cancers.