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Clouds and the Power of Photography

In the September 15, 2021 edition of the WPS Newsletter, there was an article about the power of photography in a person’s life. Here is a poignant story of the power of photography for a young girl.

a group of clouds in the sky

One of our clients, Dr. Percita Ellis, a pediatrician, often proposes the use of photography with some of her young patients. One particular patient, when she was diagnosed with cancer approximately 3 years ago, initially became anxious but would also fluctuate between being an angry, depressed, and a withdrawn little girl. So, once again Dr. Ellis had used the concept of photography to cheer her up.


On January 30, Dr. Ellis was scheduled to participate in our Sunrise in the National Mall Safari, beginning at 6:15 am. At 5:19 am WPS Director E. David Luria got a call from Dr. Ellis, reporting that she was now on the road to her hospital, 200 miles away in southwest Virginia, and would not be able to come to the safari, because she had just received a call saying that this 10-year old cancer patient was slipping way and had asked for her.


Here is the rest of the story, in Dr. Ellis’ own words:


When I got there around 6:30am, the girl was still intermittently alert, and immediately recognized me. She was on oxygen and you could tell she was weak.  Ironically, she is another patient we had used to share pictures we had each taken, so naturally the first thing she always asks is to see my latest pictures on my phone.  

In spite of her weakened state, she asked for her own phone so that she could show me pictures she had recently taken. What’s weird is that she had taken a lot of pictures of clouds! Those were the ones she wanted to share with me and talk about. She then said to me. “I think I’m going to be seeing the clouds up close soon. I wish I could take pictures of them and send them to you.“  

It was all I could do to keep it together. I knew she had just been confirmed and had her first communion in the Catholic Church last spring. I asked her if she would like to have the rites of the sick done with her by a priest. I happened to know one who was on staff at a university and was able to get in touch with him. He presented to her room within 45 mins!! Wow!! The priest did the rites of the sick. 

 After he finished, she asked for her phone again. She started looking at her pictures again, but I could tell she was getting tired.  She also remembered how I used to have music by the Children’s Choir “One Voice” and she asked if I would play some of it for her. I handed her my phone and then told her I was going to step out for a bit. I wanted her parents to have some time with her alone.

a large passenger jet flying through a cloudy blue sky

About 40 mins later her mother found me, stating that her daughter wanted to see me. I went back with her, and the girl was fading in and out more frequently. I whispered to her that I was here. She turned her face towards me, smiled and whispered, “I’m going to send you pictures of clouds and angels.”  She died at 10:27am.  

Needless to say, I am crushed.

You’ll never know exactly what photography means to the photographer, but for many it provides a way to express their inner feelings, just like this young girl…

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