Posted on June 16, 2013

Late last year, a dear friend of mine asked me to photograph him & his partner.  Actually, let me go back to the very beginning, and please do excuse me a little, as this is a bit of a personal post as well.

I first met Oddur back in 1990 (when we were both in high school) as we were both members of the Queensland Youth Orchestra.  There was a bunch of us (8 or 9) who spent time together outside of rehearsals, and it wasn’t long before we all became quite close.  We’d go to theme parks together, movies, and often have sleepovers at each other’s houses.  They were definitely some of the happiest times in my adolescence.  Because of this, I also got to know Oddur’s family well.  I am an only child, from a single-parent family, and Oddur’s family was about as far removed from mine as you could get – two parents, four kids.  Their house was so full of energy, and love, and it was such a beautiful, warm place to be.  I have such wonderful memories from there.  When I moved to Melbourne in 2003, I lost touch with Oddur, but (thanks to Facebook!) we got back in touch last year.  Unfortunately, when I got back in touch with Oddur, it was bittersweet.  His beautiful sister Thorun was expecting her first child (a son), but sadly his youngest brother, Jon, had tragically passed away the year before.  So when Oddur & I were trying to tee up a suitable time for their session, and he mentioned that they were having a family reunion, I suggested that I could take some family photos as well.

So one beautiful, sunny October afternoon, I drove down to Tamborine.  The location was perfect and the weather was incredible.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.  I met Thorun’s fiancé, Terry, and was immediately struck by their amazing bond.  So very much in love, and so excited about their pregnancy.  They just absolutely radiated joy, and I had no doubt that their son was already & would always be loved beyond belief.  Thorun & Terry asked me to shoot their wedding the following month, and my little family also ended up spending an impromptu New Year’s Eve down at their farm.  I felt so privileged to be a part of their journey, and to see Thorun’s beautiful bump developing.  Thorun’s parents were thrilled that they were becoming grandparents.

This next paragraph is probably the most difficult one I’ve ever had to write, and I am writing this with Thorun’s blessing.  At just past 35 weeks, Thorun & Terry received the devastating news that their son had passed away in utero.  With some of the most incredible bravery & strength I’ve ever known, on the 18th of January Thorun gave birth to their precious son, Kolton Axel Jon.  Perfectly beautiful, and so very, very loved.

I felt very grateful to have heard of Heartfelt, a not-for-profit organisation in Australia that provides photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirths, premature births, or have children with serious or terminal illnesses.  It was not knowledge that I had ever wanted to pass on, but the service they provide is so vital to grieving families.  Thorun & Terry’s time with their son Kolton was so excruciatingly brief.  No parent should ever, ever have to experience losing their child.

To see a family that I adore go through two tragedies in such a short space of time is gut-wrenching.  To lose a son & brother, and then a son, grandson & nephew is unimaginable.  It’s an all too brutal reminder of just how precious life is.  Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.  Show them.  If you know anyone who has lost a child, ask them if they would like to talk about their child, because they are proud parents.  Loving parents.  They will be forever changed, but their child will be with them always.  Please don’t forget them.

Each life, no matter how brief, forever changes the world. | Anonymous

So, again with Thorun’s blessing, I am sharing some of the photos of the session.  I feel very privileged & moved to have been able to capture these memories for them, and to be able to share them with you to celebrate their beautiful son, Kolton.








 Thorun & Terry, my thoughts are with you always. xo

All images and content are copyright to Jody Bell 2011.