My name is Eli Dreyfuss. I’m a professional portrait photographer and documentary filmmaker attending Florida Atlantic University and studying film. This past month at my university (FAU), I had the honor and privilege of producing a short film about a man named Bobby.
Bobby has been battling living with cerebral palsy and has been wheelchair-bound since the time he was born. He has aspirations of becoming a filmmaker and of one day becoming a sports broadcaster. Despite the challenges that come his way, he overcomes with an attitude of never giving up. His attitude and outlook on life are truly inspiring and I look to be like him every day.
“If I can accomplish the things I set out to accomplish on a daily basis, there’s absolutely no reason as to why you can’t do the same,” he tells me.
Getting to know Bobby in this short time was eye-opening and moving. As a way of showing my gratitude towards him and everything he has taught me, I wanted to give back in the way I best know: taking a portrait of him.
Since he couldn’t physically come to my studio very easily, I brought the studio to him. Literally. We set up shop in an empty parking lot and started shooting.
This is what we got.
One moment in time where despite his wheelchair, despite his obstacles, he’s sitting there smiling. A moment we can all look back on and see the real Bobby. The magic of portrait photography.
To complete the narrative of this story and bring it all together, I headed over to the print shop and printed out two 11×17-inch portraits. One for him and one for his family for Thanksgiving. He sat there and smiled for 5 minutes.
As a photographer and filmmaker, I realized that I have the ability to change someone’s life for the better just by taking some time out of my day and taking a portrait of them. I have the power to make someone’s day and give them a voice they never had before. So when you see someone who’s having a bad day, come up to them and ask them how they’re doing and even take their picture. Forget about the money for a second and think yourself: “How can I change the world through my photographs?”
As a result of our efforts to share his story so far, it’s impacted him in ways that are truly heartwarming. The day the video was posted, FAU football head coach Lane Kiffin saw his story and immediately called him into his office to talk about football and school. At the end of their meeting, Kiffin handed Bobby sideline passes and locker room access to their big game that weekend. Bobby walked out smiling ear to ear knowing that someone really had his back.
After the game, a handful of football players approached him and congratulated him on his amazing story. In a school of 30,000, people will now know his name. All because one video, one picture, one story.
You can see the documentary here: