Zion means Heaven

Do you remember what was important when you were four years old? What memories do you value most from those years?  I can’t recall much from that time; eons ago, but I know life was pretty simple. I imagine I looked forward to birthdays, Christmas, and playing outside with friends. I can still hear my mother calling me “Torrellllllllllllllll, please come inside”.  For one four year old however, life is more complex and less free going… The Beauty Formally Known as Zion Knowles. Zion Knowles


Meet Zion, this little princess can recite the names of her medication with the same enthusiasm other kids recite their A,B,C’s. Zion is four years old and her favorite color is pink. In May of this year, Zion was diagnosed with Leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells.

I came to know of Zion’s story via Facebook. My assistant shared her story with me and having made a commitment to providing a photo session for one family affected by cancer each year, she suggested Zion and her family be our session for 2012. I agreed and she got in contact with Zion’s parents and we started planning.

The idea for the shoot was simple; to capture Zion and her family having fun. Although we planned ahead and purchased props, our fingers were crossed. We didn’t know what to expect. Would Zion be able to partake in the activities we had planned?

On the day of the shoot, when the Knowles’ arrived, out climbed the most beautiful little girl that I have ever set eyes on. Her personality met us before she did. She took off her face mask and was very excited to partake in our session. She assisted in posing her family members and was extremely photogenic. Joy radiated from her like a sun beam and everything about her was cheerful and as colorful as her head band. Her walk was a skip and she had a permanent smile.

Zion attempting to pose her mom.

We bought Zion a Barbie kite to fly with her father and she worked it! Running to and fro with the flash and lens bag like crazy people, we made a strong attempt to keep up with Zion. She had us by the long shot. Sweating and bordering dehydration, we got the job done.  Her energy was more than we bargained for but it was worth the effort.

I couldn’t help but notice her fascination with the grass. It was a challenge at times to capture her focus but her mom explained that because of her hospitalization, she rarely came outside and her meds didn’t allow for much sun. This was the most fun Zion had in a while… running up and down on the grass, flying her kite.

We are extremely grateful to Zion’s parents Jason and Ancilla Knowles for allowing us to share in their joy and meet Zion. Zion’s cancer is presently in remission and her doctors anticipate a full recovery. She is the epitome of beauty, grace and strength and a reminder to appreciate the simple things. -The beauty formally known as Zion Knowles.

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruby Ann says:

    Wow, So touching, (tears), it makes me so grateful for where I am in life, for such a story as Zion’s inspire me to be more appreciative of what I have. To see a child smiling after going through all this, God is good! God bless her family. Continue to do well Zion, God certainly has a plan for your life!

  2. Lorraine says:

    Happy to know that the disease is in remission. God be praised!

    1. Indy says:

      I second that. Praise God!

  3. Gigi Light says:

    God still works miracles- if we but believe-Zion’s story is one that should teach us about purpose and forbearance. Always remember Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11:’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans
    to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
    Be Blessed Zion and Family- God intends it to be so.

    1. Tanya McPhee-Pinder says:

      Look at Zion!!!! This is such a wonderful story, and I love the pictures. We are praying everyday for a speedy recovery, and for Zion to come home.

  4. Mesha Higgs-Rolle says:

    You captured the love her parents feel for her and also the remarkable beauty that is Zion Knowles. Well done Sir!!

  5. Indy says:

    This was beautiful man! Knowing the story made the images even more captivating, rather than explaining why it grasped you. That young lady is a blessing indeed.

  6. Katherine says:

    Wow Torell this was really a blessing. Keep up the great work!

  7. Jason Knowles says:

    Torrell, we cannot express how grateful we are for this gift. The story was amazingly on point and touched me and my wife. She still gets teary-eyed just thinking about it, and looking at the beautiful photos you took. Thank you for allowing everyone to see and appreciate they joy we experience daily, through Zion’s life with us. Thank you and Philandra for making the shoot such an enjoyable one. I encourage you to continue using your talent to touch the lives of people – not only your subjects – but also the viewers. Again, please continue your good work and God bless you.

    1. tglinton says:

      I should be thanking you Jason. Even after the session Zion’s spirit and her smile continues to inspire me. Thank you for allowing us to share her with the world.

    2. KEOMA HAMER says:

      i’m all tears…with a heavy heart

      God’s endless blessings

  8. Jane woods says:

    Such a wonderful, yet sad story.. God is good in all that He do..May He continue to watch over Zion and her family. She’s a beautiful girl o:)and God has a special plan for her life here on earth..

    1. Indy says:

      I see only light in these photos. a true blessing, true joy, and true strength.

  9. Celestial says:

    The beauty that IS Zion Knowles. When I saw “formally”…oh my goodness. I don’t even want to think about it. She IS a beauty. The beauty that IS Zion 🙂

  10. Lakisca Lightbourne says:

    Wonderful editorial Mr. Photographer!!!
    My family saw Zion for the first time a few weeks ago when we supported her Steak-out. My five year old daughter kept asking questions about her every chance she got . Some questions of which I could not answer. Children are indeed God’s gifts to us.
    May God give her strength daily.

  11. LovenLife says:

    Wow brought tears to my eyes. Touching story! Will keep them in prayer.

  12. Betty Bodie says:

    Awesome story. May God continue to strengthen little Zion on her road to complete recovery. God is still in the miracle working business, if we ony believe, and we do!!!!! God bless the entire family.

  13. MoNique Albury says:

    To God be ALL the Glory….Great things He has done…and continue to do!

  14. Marcia Munnings says:

    It is so amazing that God working through Zion has not allowed “the disease to own her instead she owns it.” So from my heart I know for sure tha tthe Master has some powerful plans for Zion’s life!! I had a big surprise and such big plans to meet Zion on the day of her steak out I even call and left a message on their answering machine for Jason.( a crisis prevented this).Torrell, this story has moved me in a very special way. My prayers will forever remain with Zion and her family.

  15. Bridjette says:

    Now this truly made me cry…… God is awesome in all HIS ways!!!!

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