To Johnnie Medina, a photograph is much more than a simple snapshot in time.
It is lasting memory kept alive through that image.
And when someone is gone, it's all you have left.
"I picked up a camera about 20 years ago and started in photography," Johnnie said. "I think what I like about it is the creativity of it and capturing moments that won't ever happen again."
Johnnie's daughter Mikayla took her own life in July.
"July 28 of this year, a little more than two months ago, my world was rocked when my wife called me and I could tell she was upset. And she told me, 'I have some bad news, Mikayla's died'," Johnnie said. "I just crumpled down to the ground on the sidewalk and was just crying. Could not believe that this had happened. And I told my wife, 'You've got to come home, I can't handle this.'"
It was while preparing for her funeral he realized he didn't have enough pictures of his eldest daughter.
"Reliving a moment through a photograph is everything," Johnnie said. "It's all I have to hang on to her."
Johnnie didn't want anyone else to have to go through the same thing. To not have enough memories after death.
"I realized I needed to start something," he said. "I needed to do something."
He created an organization called "Through the Lens." The idea is to offer his service as a photographer, for free, to people who are terminally ill and their families.
"My photography has definitely helped me cope with it," he said. "It's allowed me, through her, to be able to see things in a different way."
Though right now photography remains a hobby, Johnnie hopes that one day it can become his full-time career.
He is also raising money to buy photography equipment for his work. You can read more about the project and donate on his GoFundMe page: http://bit.ly/2fWVlx9.
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