With And Without You: Christian Wilbur

Photography, unlike perhaps any other medium outside of film (which you could argue is still technically photography) has the unique ability to not only inspire us to dramatic heights, but also comfort us when we feel loss. Seeing a portrait by Richard Avedon or a street photo by Fred Herzog makes me want to grab my camera and see the world through a lens, yet these dramatic photos by Christian Wilbur remind me of the brevity of our lives here and the importance of spending those moments surrounded by those people most special to us. When my mom died in 2009, going through her things I realized that neither one of us had any photographs of us together as adults. She never liked having her photo taken and I simply never pushed the issue, something I will always regret, but tried to reconcile with my father before he died last November. His reluctance at having his photo taken was due to his self-consciousness about his appearance as a result of his illness. “This is important, Dad,” I would tell him, and he would nod and allow it. Though I have several photos of the two of us together from those last years, it is a photo of his left hand, made shortly after he passed that holds the most meaning to me.

Christian Wilbur recently reached out to ask if we would be interested in sharing his superb photo series called With and Without You. After looking at the photographs and reading the story, there was simply no way I could not share them. Christian’s brother Daniel was born with Cerebral Palsy and while he was relatively healthy as a child, his health began to decline as he entered adulthood. The wonderful photographs in With and Without You were made over the last two years of his life as his health has continued to decline and ultimately forced the family to move Daniel to a nursing facility. Only a few of the photographs are actually of Daniel – instead they offer an intimate and poignant look at the lives of the Wilbur family with Daniel now gone from the family home.

© Christian Wilbur

Honorary Chief

© Christian Wilbur

Danny with his birthday present

© Christian Wilbur

Kelly resting

© Christian Wilbur

Three o’clock Sunday afternoon

© Christian Wilbur

Mom and Dad’s room

© Christian Wilbur

Dad’s recent crop

© Christian Wilbur

Mom after her daily visit

© Christian Wilbur

Our backyard late September

© Christian Wilbur

Our living room


To see more work by Christian Wilbur, visit his site. While you are there, check out his terrific series of environmental portraits called Creative Spaces. All images © Christian Wilbur and used with permission.