How Would You React if Your Photography Dreams Were Shattered in an Instant?


It’s a question we hope none of you ever have to answer, but one that a talented colleague and PetaPixel reader is facing with incredible optimism and strength.

Wedding photographer Anthony Carbajal was recently diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. And he’s now reaching out to the photography community for support as he comes to terms with the end of a three-year professional career that was everything he could have hoped for.

ALS, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is a degenerative disease that affects the motor neurons. The neurons that control movement begin to waste away and, slowly but surely, those who suffer from Lou Gehrig’s disease lose the ability to do even simple tasks.




Over the past six months, Andrew has slowly felt a weakening in his hands and arms, and although he tried to pass it off as carpal tunnel for a while, his family history left little doubt about what it actually was. Speaking with Fstoppers, he describes how he got to this point:

The past six months my hands became noticeably weaker and both arms began twitching constantly… My last few weddings I had difficulties changing my camera settings because my hands were so weak… I tried to convince myself it was carpal tunnel even though I knew these were the same symptoms my mother & grandmother experienced before they were diagnosed with ALS.

I finally got health insurance and was seen by a neurologist… I was diagnosed on Monday January 27th. I had to cancel 26 weddings and need to return about $30,000 in deposits. I’m selling ALL my camera equipment to help refund all my brides and my family is attempting to raise money to help pay for my future medical insurance/costs, as well as my business expenses and taxes.

Anthony’s story is a stark reminder of how fragile our passions and dreams really are. It’s easy to take these things for granted but every minute spent capturing a beautiful moment or immortalizing a powerful portrait is a blessing, and one minute more than Anthony now has to spend on his passion.



With so much to pay back and a medical battle ahead of him, Anthony is reaching out to the photo community and asking for help during this trying time. If you can, please head over to Anthony’s YouCaring page and donate to help ease this burden on him and his family.

But even if you can’t help financially, it doesn’t mean you can’t help. Before you count your blessings today, be sure to stop by his Facebook page and offer a word of encouragement.

Image credits: Photographs by Anthony Carbajal and used with permission.

  • Fuzzrographer

    The saddest thing about this is that he actually has to worry about financing treatment this barbaric system Americans call “healthcare”.

    All best to him.

  • harumph

    Well, he does have insurance, so he should only have to worry about financing his deductible. Of course his deductible is probably over $3000, but I think paying for insurance isn’t his big financial worry right now. He can’t work, so he needs basic living expenses. I think that’s why the $45k fundraising goal.

  • I know that feeling

    After being kidney failure and being hooked up a dialysis machine 5 days a week, I found most of the photo community and especially the film community abandoning me. I lost my income, the ability to travel for assignments, and the energy to complete day to day task. Its trials like these that allow you find out who you friends are and what you’re made of. Its not meant to sound harsh, but dreams have to change with the tide of current. I barely get to photograph anymore, but I’ve directed my energy in to other pursuits once I recovered from the initial shock of losing my career, my wife, and most of my friends. I hope he will be able to do the same once things become the new normal. While I have no extra cash to spare, I wish him all the luck in the world. The amount of hate I got from people from asking for help like this was staggering. So I do hope his road will be different and filled with generosity. And yes, Health Care in the State truly sucks. You don’t have to remind us of that.

  • Lorenzo

    ive just donated, take care!

  • Jayne Anne Gibbons

    sad that it is constricting your passion must frustrate you more than all the other hypocratic stuff bless you hope you find a buddy to help you keep up with what your mind see’s x

  • derekdj

    Having insurance now isn’t the same as having insurance when you can’t pay. The myth that “private insurance” advocates keep spreading about how the poor lives high on the hog with Social Security and Medicare benefits just isn’t true, especially with people who suffer debilitating illnesses like ALS. This belief that because you have insurance now means you’ll be okay in the future just isn’t true, that fact is the return on investment is zero. All those years of putting money into private insurance will do nothing for you once you can’t pay anymore.

    Anthony’s story happens more often than not, it’s a frightening prospect that unfortunately most Americans don’t understand.

  • harumph

    I’m not saying that scraping up the insurance money every month isn’t a challenge. I’m just saying that it isn’t going to be his biggest challenge in the coming months and years.

    Believe me, I’m in the same boat.

  • Stan B.

    Since no one else has (at least here), may I suggest that Anthony invest in some easy to use gear (more prevalent now than ever) that will allow him to document and chronicle his new future and stand as meaningful testament to others facing such life challenging obstacles- as well as the public at large.

    Stay positive, and have the most fruitful and productive life you can make…

  • Katie

    Sorry to hear this. I’m a photographer with a mother who was diagnosed with ALS last April. You may have to give up photography which is a great loss but you can still live with lots of love and knowing you’ve created images that are cherished. Best to you.

  • Don Tusk

    He is from USA. Bad luck. Healthcare is horrible In US. Rip.

  • Tzctplus -

    You idiot, do you even know what RIP stands for?

  • Jake


  • Norshan Nusi

    This reminds me of the story “1 Litre Of tears”. Based on true story.

    A truly dream shattering disease…..

  • Ayatollyahso

    UHM “rest -in peace”…

    The “crassness” of the interwebs never ceases to amaze me.

  • Katie

    I’m pretty sure he meant the healthcare was a “rip.” A lot of people say “what a rip” when something is deemed too expensive. Haha.

  • Jampy Joe

    I guess I’d try to take some solace in the fact that my life is still better than about 50% of humans.

  • Jampy Joe

    he didn’t type RIP, he typed Rip. perhaps you should learn about capital letters and what they mean before you speak again dummay.

  • Jampy Joe

    liek da flu :-(

  • Alex5000

    The health care here is (or can be) great. At its best, it’s the most technologically advanced in the word. The trouble has long been even distribution of the best services and access to them. Those are what’s horrible here. o_O

  • Alex5000

    I’d rather we had spent a trillion dollars searching for a cure for it, instead of invading Iraq… :(

  • Norshan Nusi

    I agree with that. Especially on disease like this.

    But…. I’m not an US citizen o.o

  • Norshan Nusi

    Well, lets say the lab did research about the flu.

    But from what I heard they always experiment and mutate the flu O_O just to see how dangerous if is.

    Creepy if it is released to public.

  • Cinekpol

    If you live in Europe, NA or AU – it’s more like 80%

  • Dover

    You must mean ‘dummy’. Someone with your heightened intelligence could never misspell a word could they?

  • superduckz

    Sad News indeed. All good thought your way. And for the record, your skills are fantastic.

  • Bill

    May I ask, how would you change the system? I agree with you the current situation in healthcare is desperate, and it’s only going to get worse as we move toward socialized distribution. My solution would be to reverse course and rely on a unfettered Capitalistic system, in my view this would drastically lower costs. I know that this is a view not shared by many, but logically, it makes sense. If each of us was responsible for paying for our healthcare, costs would surely plummet and quality would skyrocket.

  • Alan Dove

    Yes, and as those annoying poor people die off, we can just eat them.

  • Sean Walsh

    I read that as “rip-off” as well. Inference is a tricky thing on the web.

  • Procentje20

    The risks of being self employed, and not saving/insuring for whenever stuff goes wrong. Dont get me wrong, I understand how devistating being diagnosed with something like this can be. But I also have a few questions…

    What a lot of self employed people do, is living large on the large amopunt of money coming in. Instead of investing in a pension, work insurance (like insurance for the ability to photograph) and keeping the downpayment for future assignemts in your bank account untill the job is done.

    But no, this guys spend it all, and now he has a problem.

  • Spiff-07

    I feel for the guy, ALS is a terrible disease. I hope he is one of the lucky few that survive for 10+ years. But I have to agree with Procentje20. This guy is essentially running a small business and its remarkable that he was not able to save any money despite clearly being fairly successful. Spending unearned revenue is always dangerous, especially if you land in a pickle and have no leverage.

  • Ale Alarcon

    You really should get to know someone before you judge them. You’re right, he doesn’t have much saved up but do you know WHY? Anthony’s mother is also affected by ALS, and he had to previously take some time away from his work to spend time with her. He also had some modifications made to her home so that it would be easier her to move through it – I’m sure those aren’t light expense. I just thought it’s something you should have taken into consideration before you dropped that whole “But no, this guy spent it all” nonsense.

  • JonathonWatkins
  • Dana

    I spent the first 25 years of my life in a socialized healthcare system. It wasn’t in Europe, it was right here in the United States. I would like to know why you are OK with our military servicemen, their families, and retirees being on socialized medicine but it’s the worst thing that could possibly happen for the rest of us.

    We’ve done unfettered capitalism. It was a dismal failure. Maybe you didn’t learn about the Gilded Age in school, but if you still don’t know about it now, that is YOUR fault.

  • Bill

    As I said, my view on healthcare isn’t shared by the majority. The “gilded age” was in fact one the most dynamic and productive periods in our nations history. For instance, before John D. Rockefeller revolutionized oil refining, the price of kerosine was about $1.60 a gallon by the time Standard Oil was broken up kerosine was nine cents a gallon. Capitalism is the fairest system in history, and works every time it’s tried. Alas, I suspect you won’t let facts get in your way, oh and don’t forget to sprinkle in some ad hominem attacks.