One of the questions I get asked regularly at workshops and conferences is this:

“Where do you look for inspiration? Which photographers inspire you?”

I think people assume I’ll list the names of some big name rock star photographers. But I don’t.

Of course, there are plenty of photographers who I admire. But they’re not where I find my inspiration these days.

To find it, I don’t need to look very far from home. My family is full of inspirational people who I love, admire and respect.

There’s one little guy in our family who is definitely note-worthy.

Meet Shannon.

6 years ago today, on the 4th of March 2008, my cousin Dave and his wife Claire gave birth to Shannon.

Just a few days later, Shannon needed open heart surgery and sadly, he suffered a massive stroke.

Doctors said he probably wouldn’t survive. And if he did pull through, he’d be paralyzed and brain damaged for life.

This came as devastating news for Dave, Claire and the whole family.

Thankfully. By God’s grace, Shannon made it through.

He is now a happy, healthy, funny, full of life, totally normal 6 year old boy. To meet him today, you wouldn’t have a clue what a miracle child he is and what a rough start he had to life.

At his 6th birthday party this year, instead of getting presents from all his school friends, Shannon decided to do something different.

He asked his parents if, instead of presents, he could raise money for other ‘Heart Kids’ just like him.

So far Shannon has raised $275 … and counting!

Now THAT’S inspirational.

Shannon, you are a little champion and we love you soooo much! We are so proud of you for using what you’ve got to help other people. Big high five for you!


As photographers, how often do we put other photographers on a pedestal for taking pretty photos of pretty girls in pretty dresses in pretty locations?

All while there are so many inspiring stories all around us, just waiting to be told.

Sometimes we’re so busy searching for inspiration that we overlook the stories that are. Right. In. Front. Of. Us.

I’d like to encourage you with this thought.

You don’t have to wait.

You don’t have to wait to be “successful”.
You don’t have to wait for that destination wedding.
You don’t have to wait to be a better photographer.
You don’t have to wait until you ‘know your camera’.
You don’t have to wait until you’re ready.
You don’t have to wait for someone to give you permission.
You don’t have to wait to be picked.
You don’t have to wait until you’re ‘good enough’.

You can start today.

Maybe you have a Shannon in your life. Maybe your next door neighbour has an inspiring story. Maybe your grandparents. Maybe a local charity, or one way overseas.

There are inspirational stories all around you. And you can start telling them now.

You don’t have to wait.


I’ll finish this post with a really touching video Matt made 5 years ago after Shannon’s 1st birthday party.

Side note: If you’d like to donate to heart kids for Shannon’s birthday you can here: Heart Kids.

To tell Shannon you donated or even just to send him an encouraging birthday birthday message, just leave a comment below. We’ll make sure to read all of them to him.


Shannon’s 1st Birthday from Matt E on Vimeo.

Join our Newsletter and we will send you all our latest updates, special offer etc...

* indicates required
Add Your Comment
  1. Adrienne said:
    Happy very belated birthday, Shannon! You are pretty darn cool. :) I hope you're having a great year!
    • Hello! I am a photography amature. I would like to thank you for this ggreat blog post. I really enjoyed seeing it. I have already signed up for your RSS feeds and would like to ask if you have and email list? wwould enjoy seeing your newqs inn my mailbox!! Thanks again!!
    • There's certainly a great deal to find out about this topic. I love all of the points you have made.
  2. Mike said:
    Happy Birthday Shannon, We can all benefit by following your fine example of thinking of others. God Bless & be well!
  3. Corinne said:
    Happy Birthday Shannon. You are a hero and a super young man. You are an inspiration and a blessing to your family.
  4. Malachi Garratt said:
    Hi I'm Mal, I wanted to wish you a Happy birthday Shannon! I loved reading your story and your video from your first birthday. I'm almost 6 too. Malachi :)
  5. Jodie said:
    Shannon happy birthday. Thank you for being Tristan's best mate ever. Xx
  6. Anne and Jon Finn said:
    Happy Birthday Shan! We are so proud of you and how you are helping other heart kids! Very inspiring :)