SEARCH THE BLOG
A few weeks ago I had the absolute honor of photographing Douglas with his beautiful family. Douglas is currently suffering and enduring through ALS, the same disease that claimed my dad's life back in July. I was first contacted by Douglas' sister in law, Alejandra, after seeing the blog entry I dedicated to my dad after his passing. This is what her email said:

"Hello Amelia,

I would first like to extend my condolences for the loss of your dad.  The decision for him to express that he "did not have ALS" was the best one.  Focusing on life and the positive is always a better way to be.  

It was brought to my attention by a fellow blog reader...The reason it was brought to my attention is because I have a Brother-in-law with ALS, Douglas.  Douglas was diagnosed in Jan 2006, ALS is slowly taking him and lately he has been in and out of the hospital.  As I read & cried through your blog post about your dad, I realized we haven't taken any family pics of my brother in law.  In addition, my husband (brother of Douglas) is always talking about the legacy we have as human beings.  He felt and related to your words.   If its not too personal for you, or overwhelming,  we would like to inquire about a family photo session with my brother in law.

Please let me know if and when you are available.  

Again, my best to you and your family in continuing your father's legacy."

I was so touched by Alejandra's email and immediately agreed to schedule a portrait session with Douglas and their family. I knew that this would probably be a difficult thing for me to face, but in a way I was happy to do this in honor of my dad.

I arrived to at the location. I said a quick prayer then found some courage to pull myself and my emotions together so I could focus on the job that lay in front of me. Douglas kept catching my attention with his eyes, even though he had lost all ability to speak and express how he was feeling I could read his thoughts through his eyes. I read that despite his condition he was happy and absolutely loved his family. I could see his gratitude toward those around him that served him day in and day out. I could see that he was a courageous soul. Douglas is now going into his fourth year of ALS.

d_001.jpgd_002.jpgAlejandra and her cute little family.
d_003.jpgDouglas and his cute little family, his daughter was especially adorable.
d_004.jpgd_005.jpgd_006.jpgNothing compares to a bond that is shared between brothers. I was touched as I watched Douglas' brothers lift and carry him around. They did it selflessly and happily.
d_007.jpgDouglas and his mother, she seemed so loving and gentle.
d_008.jpgMy favorite shot of the day on the right. I knew how hard it would be for Douglas to smile and he did it without hesitation.
d_009.jpgI use to say that my dad was the strongest man alive for having to endure ALS, and now that my dad has gone onto another life, I gladly pass the torch to Douglas. It was humbling to be in the presence of someone so strong. Thank you Douglas for letting me be a small part of your amazing journey through this!
74 Comments
Add A Comment Send To A Friend Trackbacks
Kristy said:
WOW. These photos are gorgeous and both your story and theirs are incredible. Thank you for sharing.
(11.19.09 09:28 AM)
Lyndzee of EP said:
AMAZING
(11.19.09 09:36 AM)
sean said:
this was so touching. The Title made it all the that. I hope everything goes well for them. great photos btw as all ways.
(11.19.09 09:36 AM)
Heather Brown said:
Thank you for the sweet reminder. You have a way of capturing stories through the photographs you take... I am proud of you!
(11.19.09 09:36 AM)
Jeramy said:
Thanks Amelia for reminding us how great life is--what a beautiful family! Douglas has an amazing sparkle in his eyes!!!
(11.19.09 09:37 AM)
melissa said:
Wow Amelia, this post has me in tears. Beautifully writte and gorgeous pictures. I tip my hat to the strongest man alive...to Douglas. My family and I recently had a huge fundraiser for ALS and it was great to see all of the people who were willing to lend a helping hand for the fight against this disease.
(11.19.09 09:41 AM)
Paula said:
Wow, the emotion brought forth in this blog post is astounding. You captures something truly inspiring and special.
(11.19.09 09:45 AM)
joanna said:
this is amazing.
(11.19.09 09:59 AM)
Quin said:
This is super touching Amelia. Thank you for sharing your heart and these wonderful images.
(11.19.09 10:00 AM)
brooke bowland said:
wow. the power of your post is something i cannot put into words. what an amazing session...your writing brings me to tears. thank you for reminding me and so many others how precious life and photographs truly are. you are amazing.
(11.19.09 10:04 AM)
mandy said:
Wow Amelia, thanks for sharing that. I'm sure it wasn't an easy family to shoot given the circumstances... but you did it!! A beautiful job as always.... and a beautiful family.
(11.19.09 10:06 AM)
Heather James said:
Amelia, sharing your gift and this story is so uplifting. I'm sure your father would be so proud to see that you've given this family a time to celebrate and remember how much they all love each other- no matter the difficulties in life. Douglas is a strong man!!!
(11.19.09 10:14 AM)
Rick Fernandez said:
I don't comment much on blogs but I do read them often. However, sometimes there are posts that move me in such a way that I feel I need to say thank you. The days in my life seem to travel faster than I can hang on sometimes. After reading your post my daily life stopped long enough for me to think and realize how important it is to appreciate every second of it. So, thank you for the gift of time Amelia. Thank you for taking your time to impact mine. Thank you for introducing me to such a wonderful family that I have never met, yet I will never forget. Most of all thank you for gathering up enough strength to photograph this family after your recent loss. In my book, you are currently one of the strongest women alive.
(11.19.09 10:15 AM)
Heidi R. said:
I am sure you already know what an AMAZING gift you have given this family with these beautiful images. I don't know them or what it means to live with ALS, but I am so touched by the joy and love that is emanating from these photographs. I am so happy for them that they will have these to remember the love by forever. What an amazing job we have as photographers! Kudos to you, Amelia.
(11.19.09 10:15 AM)
heather said:
what heroes... all parties involved and what a grand smile! (all typed through tears).
(11.19.09 10:16 AM)
renee said:
Thank you for sharing this. It's a beautiful post honoring two very special men!
(11.19.09 10:18 AM)
andrea said:
What a beautiful family and a wonderful gift you gave them. Wishing Douglas the strength and joy he needs to get through everyday.
(11.19.09 10:27 AM)
Jill Brady said:
Kenny and I were just talking about how it's been four months (today - wow!) since your dad passed away. And then you post this. It was hard for ME to get through looking at these - I can't believe you got through shooting this. (I'm glad Jason was there to assist you.) Beautiful images. Beautiful family.
(11.19.09 10:28 AM)
alice said:
Beautiful story and images! Lovely that you have passed the torch... I only wish it was a torch that is no longer needed... praying for a cure!
(11.19.09 10:35 AM)
yan palmer said:
beautiful images ameila (she said through tears).
(11.19.09 10:36 AM)
Bobby Earle said:
In the midst of terrible things like ALS, life can still be so beautiful. So freaking rad.
(11.19.09 10:46 AM)
Julie Cruz said:
Beautiful photos as always. I will keep Douglas in my thoughts and prayers :)
(11.19.09 11:05 AM)
Marissa Rodriguez said:
You are so wonderful for doing this for this family. I'm in tears and I really appreciate such strong, beautiful and happy families like Douglas'. Every single photo is just as powerful and lovely as the next, thank you for sharing their story!
(11.19.09 11:09 AM)
Deb Cull said:
I was trying not to cry today, but this post made me cry. THIS is what photography is about. Beautiful, beautiful captures.
(11.19.09 11:19 AM)
haley lamb said:
wow...i can barely wrap my mind around this...what a gift, amelia!
(11.19.09 11:57 AM)
Lindsey Joy said:
I'm not sure how you held it together... the raw emotion in these images and the love in their eyes is amazing. I'm teary-eyed. The last image is breathtaking!
(11.19.09 12:04 PM)
John Sharpe said:
Amelia...love this shoot and your writing was the cherry on top. Thanks so much for sharing!!!
(11.19.09 12:04 PM)
Elise Wallace said:
Thank you for sharing! To me, a good photo brings emotions. You are very talented!
(11.19.09 12:19 PM)
Lele said:
Beautiful in every way imaginable.
(11.19.09 12:40 PM)
megan welker said:
whew. amelia. that was so touching and brought tears to my eyes. love this :)
(11.19.09 12:58 PM)
matt sloan said:
this is awesome! so proud of you amelia!
(11.19.09 01:25 PM)
Brittany Sattel said:
Amazing Amelia. :) And very appropriate Blog Title! God bless this beautiful family and God bless you and your generous family! Thanks for sharing...Someday ALS won't be an issue anymore - I believe it!
(11.19.09 01:25 PM)
Manuel Rosales said:
Amelia you and your magical lens have made this world a better place. At least for one man and his family. Perhaps the only thing that one can ask out of another human being is compassion and love. Your father was with us during that shoot, he was the light that brightened your photos. If anyone would like to know more about Doug please let me know. For now, follow this link to read an article that was written about him. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20070113/ai_n17126221/?tag=content;col1
(11.19.09 01:44 PM)
ELM.K. said:
Wow. So touching. THIS RIGHT HERE in this blog post is what photography is all about.
(11.19.09 01:52 PM)
Rhiona said:
WOW! These are just insanely and amazingly beautiful. They encompass so much emotion. I can only imagine how difficult this must have been for you after experiencing your own loss, but God works in mysterious ways :) These images are beyond words, this family will cherish them greatly.
(11.19.09 02:12 PM)
Emilie said:
This is so touching. Beautiful, beautiful photos of a brave man and his family.
(11.19.09 02:36 PM)
david gonzales said:
thank you Amelia once again for taking the time a effort for the family pics of my older brother Douglas. We all are very thankful.
(11.19.09 02:42 PM)
Ashley said:
This is such a beautiful post Amelia! And just what I needed today. You are such a strong person and I can only imagine how priceless these images are to this family. Amazing work!
(11.19.09 02:51 PM)
Jane Hasty said:
WOW!
(11.19.09 05:20 PM)
Gary said:
Very touching and everyone are beautiful. Stay strong everybody!
(11.19.09 05:44 PM)
Beth said:
Wow you are an amazing, strong, beautiful person. I can't imagine how hard this must have been for you. What an amazing gift you have given this gorgeous family. Beautiful work as always!
(11.19.09 05:57 PM)
Hillary Gordon said:
What a wonderful thing it is to be able to spread happiness through your undeniable talent and craft. Amazing work.
(11.19.09 06:01 PM)
Lucy said:
The pictures tell a thousand words! To see how this journey continues for Doug and our families is certainley a gift from God to have him in our lives. To all families who live each day with any life challenges, may we continue to savor the moment and live each day as if tomorrow is here today! The pictures are AWESOME! Thank you for bringing a smile to my sister, Conchita my niece, Natalia and the Rosales family on what you call a picture perfect day!
(11.19.09 06:32 PM)
Amy PDo said:
I smiled as much as I cried when I saw these photos of Doug and his family. Amelia, you were able to capture a sense of beauty, despite the heartbreaking disease of ALS through these photos. Thank you for sharing these moments and photographs.
(11.19.09 09:08 PM)
Feuza said:
Man, family is so precious and I so take mine for granted, focus on me me me and life is so short and we must live like there is no tomorrow, I love these last two shots as well, they are lucky to have found you
(11.19.09 09:19 PM)
Kirsty-Abu Dhabi said:
I am moved to tears by these - what an amazing and beautiful family - all of you, both you and them are so brave for reminding us to treasure the times we have. Thank you all.
(11.19.09 09:55 PM)
Rachel said:
You captured something so powerful with this session. What a gift you gave to Douglas and his family. And thank you for the reminder of the gift of life, and for sharing Douglas' story of strength. Truly inspiring!
(11.20.09 01:02 AM)
imthiaz houseman said:
my hats off to you amelia! you are amazing and these photos prove that once again. amazing job.
(11.20.09 07:54 AM)
Alexandra said:
Your dad would have been proud :) .. I LOVE the photos! They are so beautiful!
(11.20.09 07:55 AM)
joyful weddings and events said:
So special for them and moving for all of us to experience. Thanks Amelia!
(11.20.09 09:47 AM)
Erin S. said:
Moving and touching. Thank you, Amelia, for shooting and sharing this family.
(11.20.09 11:03 AM)
Kyle said:
What wonderful portraits Amelia. I can feel Douglas' strength coming out of every shot.
(11.20.09 11:59 AM)
Anthony Duarte said:
I've had the pleasure of meeting Douglas and his family. Your pictures are absoulutely amazing and you captured how truly wonderful they all are. Thank you for doing this.
(11.20.09 11:59 AM)
bethany said:
moved to tears... and i know i'm not the only one.
(11.20.09 12:03 PM)
Megan said:
Beautiful. And Incredibly Touching.
(11.20.09 12:26 PM)
Pattie Illingworth said:
Amelia, I am in tears. I haven't seen Douglas in several years and met his daughter almost a year ago. This is such a special and amazing gift! Thank you for sharing.
(11.20.09 03:22 PM)
Kiera said:
I'm overwhelmed. What an amazing family shoot. Douglas looks like the nicest guy and his family looks so supportive. Incredible images and emotion. Thanks Amelia.
(11.20.09 03:46 PM)
Maribel Garcia said:
I was so touched by these photos Amelia My Hat goes of to You... Conchita those last 2 pictures are so IMPOWERING You can see the LOVE Doug has for you. YOU both look so HAPPY... A picture is a story the will live on FOREVER What an AMAZING Journey. May God continue to give you both the Strength to go on.
(11.20.09 09:29 PM)
marcello ambriz said:
great post! class act all around... you and douglas' family.
(11.21.09 06:25 AM)
Jacqueline Garcia said:
Amelia, you have such gift, I cried and smiled at the same time. I was very touched my these photos. Conchita I love the picture of all three of you and the one where doug is looking up at you. May God bless Doug and his family
(11.21.09 02:35 PM)
Regina said:
So beautiful. I was in tears while I read and looked at these photos. What a way to keep his memory alive. They all look wonderful, happy, & strong. These are by far the best Amelia.
(11.21.09 04:02 PM)
Ravyn said:
These photos are amazing. Brought tears to my eyes ... I think capturing raw emotion in a photo is what this whole adventure of being a photographer is about. Great job, very inspiring.
(11.22.09 09:12 AM)
cindy said:
What a touching, real, beautiful and emotional tribute to Douglas and your dad. Amelia: thank you for sharing your heart with us. Also, thank you for giving me the strength to do my session in a few weeks with a friend who was recently diagnosed with ALS. Never before has your work inspired me so deeply.
(11.22.09 11:32 AM)
rookie cookie said:
Beautifully done. But all of this makes me think this just isn't fair. Life isn't fair. High five to this family for enjoying the time they have together.
(11.23.09 07:30 AM)
Hilary Amery said:
Amelia, Although we do not know each other (I follow your blog through Jasmine) I had to tell you how gorgeous these photos are. Job well done, and I am sure Douglas' family will be forever grateful.
(11.25.09 09:55 AM)
Lee Anne said:
These images are so, so beautiful Amelia - you've documented a very special moment in time for this family and I'm so glad to have had the privilege of viewing these photos. This is what photography's all about, what a gift you've given to this family.
(11.29.09 06:28 AM)
michele dyson said:
Amelia; I've been following you for a few years but have never commented.....this is one of the most touching posts I"ve ever read; it makes us all stop, think and truly remember to be thankful. You couldn't have done a better job and I can only imagine just how much this family loves their images. Truly heartwarming:)
(11.29.09 09:21 PM)
ajira said:
Sitting here with tears rolling down my face. I am grateful for what your talent allows you to do for families, what it has allowed you to do for Douglas' family. What a beautiful man he is. His eyes are so incredibly expressive and I think you've read them right- there seems to be a lot of joy there. My favourite is also the last shot on the right. The joy just beaming. Beautiful. Thinking warmly of this family, and also of yours.
(11.30.09 04:59 AM)
Michelle Stone said:
so completely beautiful.
(12.01.09 06:27 PM)
Klein said:
Hi Amelia! Im just starting to venture out into the business of photography and have been looking for inspiration from different photographers. Your work truly inspire me. I was moved by this post. I hope to someday attend one of your workshops. Keep up the great work. God Bless!
(12.04.09 09:58 AM)
Maria said:
Amelia, you are lovely!! God bless you and the wonderful work that you do.
(03.22.10 09:12 PM)
Russell Snider said:
He looks so happy....great session! I really enjoyed viewing this session.
(04.18.10 12:43 AM)
Anonymous said:
Thank you for the pictures and capturing the moments...........he is missed such a great man son brother father and friend he was
(10.07.11 10:29 PM)
Manuel Rosales said:
As you already know, Douglas was a special person. He inspired many of us to do our best, to be better people, and to not make failure an option. Most of you know that he graduated from South El Monte High School where he graduated with honors and then went on to St. Mary's College. However, most of you don't know that Doug and I used to push a shopping cart to a laundry mat and to collect cans. We washed our clothes miles ways from our rental because we could not afford washing machines. We pushed our metal steed down streets and went dumpster diving for aluminum and glass "diamonds." We did so because our mother could barely pay the bills, let alone buy us "fun" stuff. Our mother also took us to yard sales and bought us "new" school clothes every summer right before school. Doug and I always predicated what our Christmas presents were: socks, towels, and underwear. We got the same present every year because our mother got us what we needed, not what we wanted. It saddened her, when we politely said "gracias." She longed to buy us a new-shiny toy or nice clothes, but she couldn't. However, nothing brought more grief to her heart than when we hardly had food in the refrigerator. At one point we had only salt and tortillas to eat. The city of South El Monte was no different than any other city, so we thought. We were welfare kids, wasn't everyone? Our limited perspective could have handicapped Doug. He could have let the song of failure lure him into temptation, like it does to many kids in the city. Doug did not listen, instead, he created his own tune: his own magic melody. I recall singing a similar song of success with and to him. Most students viewed classrooms as dungeons and boredom. We peered through each door and saw opportunity. We knew that our mother, who worked three jobs at times, would not have it any other way. According to her, we had two choices: succeed or bleed. Well, neither one of us wanted to die by spanking. So, we listened to her song of school and opportunity. Our mother is the driving force that guided us to success. Doug and I would not have made it this far. My brother fought courageously, even though he knew he was fighting a futile war. For six long years he suffered. For six long years he watched life happen. For six long years, our mother watched her son wilt like a beautiful flower. However, on Wednesday, he walked, ran, and jumped for the first time in a long time. I know that he's working on his jump shot, running sprints, and working on his writing skills (yes, we used to even compete at that!) somewhere other than here. I would like to thank my wonderful and courageous mother for her dedication to Doug. Also, my little brother David for not letting this moment define him and instead defining this moment as a turning point in his life. My wife, you are my sun in my universe. I love you. George, Greg, Frank, German, David Taylor, Angel, Jaime, Carlos, and rest of you who showed Doug so much love, thank you. You are family. Please make sure to leave him a note and if you can, upload a picture or two. I cannot say enough about my wonderful brother. Having the opportunity to shape his life was an honor. Doug, thank you for making me a better man. IN LIEU OF FLOWERS, WE WOULD APPRECIATE A MONETARY DONATION. OUR FAMILY IS GOING TO OPEN A COLLEGE TUITION FUND FOR DOUG'S DAUGHTER, NATALIA. CHECKS CAN BE MADE OUT TO ME, MANUEL ROSALES. THANK YOU. "Lets bolo foo!" Manuel Rosales
(10.10.11 01:47 PM)
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Douglas...currently the strongest man alive! . TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.amelialyon.net/darkroom/mt/mt-tb.cgi/207
I LOVE the Williams family to bits and pieces! Even though they aren't really blood related, they might as well be! Ryan has been a long time best friend to my first cousin Sam and Heather's Aunt is married to my other first cousin (Sam's older brother)....make any sense?! You may recall their faces from over a year ago from a post we did featuring a shoot we did of Wendy as a baby. It's crazy to see time pass and watch Wendy as a little girl now! Here are some of my favs from our shoot a few weeks ago:
will_001.jpg
My favorite shot of the day!
will_002.jpg

will_003.jpg
will_004.jpgLOL! Wendy's face here is priceless!
will_005.jpgwill_006.jpgwill_007.jpgwill_008.jpgwill_009.jpgwill_010.jpgwill_011.jpgwill_012.jpgwill_013.jpgwill_014.jpgwill_015.jpgwill_016.jpgwill_017.jpgwill_018.jpg

20 Comments
Add A Comment Send To A Friend Trackbacks
Anna said:
what a cutie pie! lovin' all the shots in this series :) especially the third last shot. snuggles!
(10.22.09 02:10 PM)
emily said:
these are darling! I love all of them, but the B&W close up of the smooching is just killer. Great work! (and really how is it you always get the best dressed clients? I love the family style here!)
(10.22.09 02:16 PM)
anna brewer said:
O.M.G! i LOVE these pictures! and that little girl is precious!! :)
(10.22.09 02:24 PM)
kristina leao said:
you guys did amazing job! (no surprise there!) i can't wait for you to do our pictures next month!
(10.22.09 02:49 PM)
Heather Brown said:
what a great shoot. I love them all. But then again I havent seen one of your shoots I dont like!! Amazing!
(10.22.09 02:50 PM)
Lroah said:
LOVE.
(10.22.09 02:56 PM)
jean smith said:
always love, love, LOVIE your blog. thought i should actually write a comment. you ROCK...every. single. session or wedding.
(10.22.09 03:36 PM)
haley lamb said:
beautiful images! the family has such great style!
(10.22.09 03:48 PM)
Kayleen T. said:
Such a cute family and she is so precious! Your fave is just perfect with her little leg kicked up. SOO CUTE!
(10.22.09 04:23 PM)
angie + matt said:
uh so so so so so cute! I love her little head piece:) These are gorgeous!
(10.22.09 06:52 PM)
heather williams said:
thank you again amelia! i love all of them! BEST mother's day present EVER!
(10.22.09 07:04 PM)
jenn king said:
LOVE this family! what stunning images!
(10.22.09 11:10 PM)
Mallory said:
love, love, love everything about this family! the style is incredible, the pictures are adorable!
(10.23.09 09:00 AM)
Emily Beaty said:
Beautiful and I LOVE their style! I really love the light in the last image. You guys are awesome!
(10.23.09 09:35 AM)
imthiaz houseman said:
what a good looking family with great style! love this set.
(10.23.09 10:19 AM)
rookie cookie said:
Dang it. I miss that little family so much. And I miss yours to. I hate living here.
(10.23.09 10:25 AM)
David said:
Great shots! Love the location and the type of trees there. Where was it shot at?
(10.24.09 01:16 PM)
Augusta said:
Amazingamazing, all of them. So inspiring! Everything from location to style to every little detail is perfect!
(10.25.09 07:45 AM)
Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said:
Where is that? It's beautiful!
(10.26.09 09:11 AM)
The Memory Journalists said:
I heart Wendy! What a cutie! This shoot made my day. Thanks for sharing this beautiful family with us!
(11.02.09 07:01 PM)
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Williams Family Together! . TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.amelialyon.net/darkroom/mt/mt-tb.cgi/197