Memories… {Brisbane Family Photgrapher}

October 2011. A difficult month. A difficult year for many, but particularly for the beautiful family depicted below.

It’s a story I’ve held dear for over 6 months. Wanting to share but thinking there was never a right time. It was too soon perhaps? How do you share the story filled with sadness anyway? Most of what I do is joyful and full of happiness. A smile. Some laughter. There is life and love and everything in between. But this. This is sadness at it’s core. The story of a man, far too young, diagnosed with Cancer. The story of his passing just eight days after our photo session, far too soon. Then it clicked, this isn’t just a story of sorrow. There are many stories intertwined; a story of life, and love. Of hope and togetherness. Of family and memories.

Memories. Sweet, beautiful memories.

Michael was a man of many talents, but the most notable was his ability to interact with children. I had the pleasure of knowing him for eight years. I saw his friendly face every time I dropped off and picked up my children from their kindy. When I first started photography over five years ago now, he was one of my biggest supporters. He was like a little champion of mine waiting in the corner ready to promote me at every opportunity. He loved to talk with me about my work…he had a keen, genuine interest in everything I photographed and it made me feel like I was doing something right.

So when Michael was diagnosed with Cancer I wanted so very much to photograph him with his family. I knew there wasn’t much I could offer him. But I could offer him this. In typical Michael fashion, he didn’t accept my offer. He refused saying he didn’t like having his picture taken; just taking them. I did everything I could to try and persuade him otherwise, knowing just how much it would mean to his family. There were no family photos. Because Michael tended to  avoid the camera. I wanted so badly to create some memories for him and for his family that it pained me thinking I had failed at convincing him how important it was. And then it happened, he changed his mind. So, a few weeks after his diagnosis we organised a shoot with all his family.

The day was beautiful. The sun shone bright. The sky was blue. People laughed, and in those moments, the love was genuine. The life in his eyes real. And just for a second, maybe people forgot why we were there. I do hope so.

Sadly Michael never got to see the beautiful images his family now has. For weeks after the session, following his passing, I wondered whether I did a good job. Did I capture his true essence? Was this Michael staring at me on my computer screen? Would he be happy? Then Lily, saw an image of him on the screen, one that didn’t make the cut, and she said to me in this abrupt kind of voice, “That’s not Micheal’s real smile!”. I looked at her, confused because in typical five year old fashion I did not see what she saw. He was smiling.  “Really” I replied. Quickly I tried to shuffle for another picture. It popped up on the screen, and she smiled, tears in her eyes and said “Mummy, that’s it. That’s his real smile” and walked off. In that moment the tears rolled down my cheeks. Not tears of sadness. No they were not. They were tears of happiness, rolled in with a sense of relief. Relief that he was looking down at me chuffed I had created something that his family and friends could hold onto. Something that he would be proud of. Because at the end of the day, the one thing I created was the one thing that stayed behind. Memories. True, honest memories.

This one’s for you Michael xxxxx

by nicolera


June 12, 2012 - 4:02 pm

Kezia Wilson - That is beautiful Nicole. I was waiting for this day when you would share his photos. He was an amazing man, and could touch your heart like no other. I have tears in my eyes. I will be sharing with my sister and mum, they will be so happy to see these beautiful photos. Cause like you said, he was very hard to photograph, but you captured him beautifully xxx

June 12, 2012 - 5:55 pm

Tanya Love - Beautiful. Amazing. You have given his family the best gift you can give. As photographers, we often are put into superficial/fake situations and our craft can be seen as flippant and unimportant. But, what you have done is beyond any Pulitzer Prize. You are gorgeous inside and out Nic. xxx

June 12, 2012 - 6:04 pm

Natalie - Not a dry eye here. Beautiful Nicole, just beautiful. You have captured memories they can have forever. And Lily…..that made me cry. Beautiful photos full of love!

June 12, 2012 - 6:18 pm

Belinda - Beautiful photos Nicole. Just beautiful!

June 12, 2012 - 6:24 pm

Carrie - Heartbreaking and beautiful. Precious, precious memories.

June 12, 2012 - 7:06 pm

fiona andersen - Oh my heart just stopped. Nic these are beautiful and what you wrote is even more amazing. What a gift to give xxx

June 12, 2012 - 7:07 pm

Lee Lindstrom - I remember Michael as a kind, loving and giving boy who could get into and out of trouble with just a smile.He lived life to the max and always bought a smile to my face with the things he did, and he knows that I always love him, and the years my family shared him with Gloria and her family.

Nicole you have captured Michael beautifully.

June 12, 2012 - 7:24 pm

Hayley - I’m so glad that Michael changed his mind Nic…and now thanks to you his family have these precious images to remember him by. It was meant to be that you were a part of his life….so that when the time came, he trusted somone enough to hand them this important task. And you did a beautiful job of it for him and his family xx

June 12, 2012 - 7:31 pm

Fiona - Beautiful and heartwarming. A wonderful gift xx

June 12, 2012 - 7:57 pm

Amanda - I type through a haze of tears – what a beautiful soul you have…and you have captured the beautiful souls of this man and his family. So very very precious. xo

June 12, 2012 - 8:00 pm

Karen Pfeiffer - Perhaps one of the hardest you’ve blogged, but by far one of the most beautiful. I’ve been waiting to see more than the little peeks I’ve had, and you most definitely did a great job. You should be so proud, I’m sure would be. You are beautiful (and so is his family) xxxx

June 12, 2012 - 9:00 pm

rowe - so beautiful nic… these images are perfect in every way! they will treasure them forever xxx

June 12, 2012 - 9:01 pm

Vanessa - So very beautiful.

June 12, 2012 - 9:16 pm

Jayne - Beautiful Nicole.

June 12, 2012 - 10:20 pm

Chris Bainbrigge - Thank you so much, they are great pics and your kind words are so true, he was the best big brother you could ever ask for, always there through the good and the bad. it dosnt get any easier loosing him, just the happy memories always end up making you smile.
Thank you

June 12, 2012 - 11:10 pm

Jenny Ruddle - Nicole, these are priceless, what a lovely thing you have done for him and his family, I’m sure they will treasure them forever and will forever be grateful for the gift you have given them XX

June 13, 2012 - 9:37 am

Danielle Stahl - Tears streaming down my face here too… Amazing Nic….xx

June 13, 2012 - 11:16 am

Roxanne Gorman - so beautiful Nicole – such lovely, lovely moments with his family, am smiling through tears – he looks like a truly beautiful soul.

June 13, 2012 - 11:19 am

dani - beautiful, precious, touching images Nic….such an amazing gift you have, and your words breathtaking too….

June 13, 2012 - 11:53 am

Marieke B - absolutely beautiful. and wonderful memories and images for his family.

June 13, 2012 - 12:01 pm

caroline Bowen - Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful story. I know these images will stay with this family forever…and will always be treasured. What a beautiful gift xx

June 13, 2012 - 1:34 pm

Kim - God bless Nicole and his family as well xx

June 13, 2012 - 3:30 pm

Sherry - can’t breath when i see these beautiful photos, wonderful memory with michael and his family!

June 13, 2012 - 6:29 pm

Lisa - Thankyou for doing this, Im sure it means alot to Gloria and her family. I will never forget Michael and how gentle, kind and interested he was in my kids. I have a long history with Montessori but still cant bring myself to call in, this has gone someways to ease the rawness and shock.

June 13, 2012 - 8:23 pm

Jeanette - Such amazing images… tears streaming here.

June 13, 2012 - 9:19 pm

Vickie Bishop - I don’t know you Nicole, but I follow and admire your photography on FB.

What can one say when you see an album like the one you have produced for Michael and his family.

I don’t think words can describe it!!!!


You said Michael was a man of many talents….
I believe> you are a women with many talents too….

I share your passion !!!!!

Thank You for SHARING. Vickie

June 13, 2012 - 10:14 pm

Lisa marie - What a beautiful lasting legacy and gift for his family. Very sad and sympathy goes out to yourself for losing a friend , but also his family and loved ones. It’s never easy

June 14, 2012 - 7:50 pm

Jen Stocks - Oh Nic, these are amazing. You have captured something truly special, and made me all emotional too. I’m so glad he changed his mind – look what his family has to remember him by.

F a c e b o o k