A while back, Jana Gering and I had this wild idea. She is an artist who is now living in Seattle and happens to be one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Over a visit to my home in Lebanon, PA (in between getting assaulted by my four children), she explained that there was a way to combine my photography and her form of art to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art for a family.


Count me in. A hundred percent yes. 

I searched my mind for the right image, one that would evoke a strong feeling. Protection. Love. Joy. Hope. Sorrow. I knew just the one.

There was more summed up in this one image than I have the words to write.

It was taken by my friend Michaelanne Helms, who I had enlisted to be a second shooter on this particular extended family shoot.

I reached out to the family and discovered that the wife's birthday was quickly approaching, and yes, this would make the perfect birthday gift for her. I expedited a print to Jana and we sent a short questionnaire to the husband to find inspiration for the other elements of this art piece.

He provided a couple of meaningful quotes and also colors from their home as a guideline of how to construct it. Meanwhile, Jana and I had several conversations with each other about the piece, and then I stepped back, waiting on pins and needles to see how the piece would come together.

Encaustic art, for those who are not familiar, is created by brushing layers upon layers of melted golden beeswax onto a wooden canvas. Each layer can be carved, ironed, or embedded with all types of elements: String, stamps, paint, lettering, and gold foil to name a few. Most specifically to our purposes, a photo can be layered into the art piece.

Jana went to work in her home studio... brushing, carving, pressing, applying her artistic eye. She resurfaced after a few days and shipped it back to Pennsylvania. I held my breath and opened the box. 

I stared at it for a long time, awestruck at what we had made. What began as a meaningful photo had ended in a collaborative work that spoke to so many layers of their relationship. A beautiful reminder of who they were as her daughter stepped further into adulthood.

This work was invigorating, and I decided right then and there to open it up to anyone who has taken their photos with me to transform a special image into a photo encaustic art piece.

It is my hope that it will become a treasured piece of art in your home, one that you can pass down to your children and grandchildren.

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