There are many organisations that help pediatric cancer patients in various ways, but there is nothing quite like Anything Can Be — a photography studio, started by Jonathan Diaz, that creates images depicting the patient in a scenario where their wildest dreams have come true.
“I wanted to tell stories that mattered [and] that could inspire, and help other people,” Diaz told Business Insider. “I am fascinated with children’s imaginations — they tend to believe that anything is possible, they are so optimistic. I wanted to help these kids believe in their dreams.”
Anything Can Be helps these children see themselves as courageous and strong, rather than stuck in a hospital bed. Diaz hopes that if these children can visualise themselves in their dreams, it will help them, in some small way, to fight their battle with cancer.
Whether it’s becoming a princess, dunking a basketball in front of hundreds of fans, or fighting crime as Batkid, Diaz has helped make some of their wildest dreams come to life.
Diaz first started this project with his own children, building scenes out of their imaginations. He soon realised that he wanted to tell stories that could inspire and help other people.
Once he came to that realisation, he got in contact with children battling cancer with the intent of making their lifelong dreams come to life through photography.
Diaz works with patients battling all kinds of cancer. Bri, pictured below, suffered from osteosarcoma but has since won her battle with cancer.
Each image is a composite made up of multiple photos. Diaz's approach to each shoot varies depending on the strength of the child. Some of the photo shoots are done in the child's home because he or she is too sick to leave the house.
To help get the children inspired and muster the energy for a shoot, Diaz sometimes brings surprises on set, like a costumed Batman or a beautiful white horse.
Diaz uses about 10 different images for the final composite. Using so many different images allows him to create depth and make the final product look and feel more realistic.
Despite the odds of survival, the children that Diaz works with still think about their dreams and their futures.
Many of the children Diaz works with have been fighting cancer their entire lives. Cami, pictured below, was fighting cancer since 2010. In 2014, just a few months before this image was taken, Cami was told she was cancer-free.
'The happiest part has just been the opportunity to see the kid's faces when they see themselves in their images,' Diaz said.
For many of the children he has worked with, this photo shoot was one of the last activities they participated in before they became too sick or passed away.
Some of the children are so sick, it's extremely difficult for them to hold themselves up. Jordan, pictured below, was in so much pain that she couldn't stand on her own, but that didn't stop her from posing for the image. Three assistants helped to hold her up so they could capture this moment. Jordan insisted on standing for this image.
Jordan died about two weeks later. For Diaz, that's the toughest part of doing a series like this, but he says he remains inspired by the children's optimism.
'(Throughout this project) I have learned that there is hope to hold onto no matter what circumstances we face,' Diaz said.
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