September 14, 2015 - 12:01 pm
Salt Lake City — A Salt Lake City attorney is leaving his day job behind to pick up a camera and tripod. But this man is no ordinary photographer.
His pictures bring people to tears.
They are majestic and powerful photos of boys and girls living out their fantasy in a mystical world of heroes. But it’s the stories behind these photos that drives Jon Diaz, a law-school graduate and practicing attorney, who gave it all up to take pictures.
“I want to dedicate my life to it,” Diaz said.
That’s because Diaz’s true love is photography. The problem is, he didn’t always know that. The photography bug bit him about three years after law school when his mother gave him a camera for Christmas.
“It was kind of like a light just switched on in my mind. Suddenly I realized the amazing things I could do with a camera.”
The inspiration for his latest work all took place in his basement studio when he threw a cape on his oldest son and told him to dream he was a basketball star with the Jazz.
“I remember looking at that picture and I remember looking at my wife and saying how awesome would it be if we did this, but did it for kids that could really derive something from it,” Diaz said.
And that brings us back to the photos. Each one of the kids photographed has cancer.
“If I can show these kids as powerful, strong, courageous, hopeful — it opens up a dialogue. People want to talk about it.”
Diaz’s photo shoots are no small matter. He actually tries to bring the mystical world to life for the kids. The shoots can be very emotional for family.
“You can tell that he cares and that’s really important to us,” Mark Wainwright said tearfully. His son William was photographed.
Diaz has done 21 photo shoots with kids. Two of those kids passed away, including young Jordan who wanted to be “Alice in Wonderland.”
“I just remember saying, ‘Forget that you are sitting on this couch. Forget that anything else is happening. I want you to come with me to Wonderland and let’s just imagine that we are there.’ And we did,” Diaz said.
Jordan passed away a couple of weeks later.
“I created an image of her in a field of daisies and she was able to see that before she passed.”
Her family also has a memory.
“I burst into tears and it didn’t look like she was in pain or suffering. It looked like she was relaxed and happy and at peace,” remembered Jordan’s mom Sheri Kennedy.
That’s why Diaz had no problem leaving his day job behind and starting the Anything Can Be project.
“It is my belief that if you have a talent and you have something to give to the world that you should do that,” Diaz said.
Diaz has compiled his 21 photos and the stories of those kids in a book that hits book shelves on Sept. 8 called “True Heroes.” The stories are written by 21 imaginative authors, many of whom are nationally-recognized best sellers. Diaz’s dream is to continue his non-profit organization with more photo shoots.
To learn more about his work or donate to the project AnythingCanBeProject.com you can also see FlyingHatProductions.com.