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Photographer Uses His Camera to Help Fight Cystic Fibrosis

By Hanssie on January 8th 2015

jan-pirnat-cystic-fibrosis-10Photography is a powerful tool. It can preserve memories to help us remember special moments when we age and the mind becomes fuzzy. It can show us an event, frozen in a split second of time, thousands of miles away. Researchers are even studying photography for usage in detecting diseases in children. For some, photography can be means to give us inner strength and fortitude, giving us hope and inspiration to carry on in our trials and tribulations.

For Jan Pirnat, his camera gave him purpose and a means to express himself in spite of a deadly illness. Jan was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was 2 months old. Much of Jan’s childhood was spent in hospitals battling the disease. In his fragility, his doctors predicted that Jan would only live until he was 15 or 20 years old.

CF is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs, liver, pancreas and intestines. Frequent lung infections and ultimately lung transplants are necessary for survival. The average life expectancy is anywhere from early twenties to late thirties.



As Jan got older and realized the implications of his diagnosis, he began to hide his illness from people in fear of being treated differently. But now, at 21 years old, Jan hopes that sharing his story can inspire and motivate people and serve as a reminder of life’s preciousness.

I want people to notice what a PRICELESS gift it is to be healthy. And also, I want everyone who’s suffering from any kind of disease to know that, above all else, you have to do what you love – that’s what will give you the strength to fight. WHAT KEEPS US GOING MAY STAND AS A REMINDER FOR WHAT WE CAN LOSE.

Jan’s photographic journey began when he discovered photography (or it discovered him, as he would put it) after elementary school. Soon it became a tool for him to gain strength to fight CF. He credits photography as the thing that changed his life, his “guiding light” and a “cure” for his disease.” It gave his life a meaning and an identity outside of a patient with CF. After a 6 month stint in the hospital a few years ago, Jan jumped into photography head first.

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Jan dreams to inspire people with his photographs and his story. He wants to be a storyteller of both people and nature and also incorporate his love of extreme sports photography within that.

Watch Jan Pirnat’s Inspiring Story


Jan Pirnat’s story caught my eye not only because of his attitude in the midst of a horrific illness, but he reminded me of one of my former students in my 4th grade class. She is in her early twenties now and just received a double lung transplant. She has been in the hospital almost a year and every day is a struggle and a battle for her life. These two brave young people are inspirations and reminders that life is so very short. Go out today and do what you’re passionate about.

To see more of Jan’s photographs, check out his Facebook page.

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[Via iso1200/Klemen Humar on Vimeo].

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Sheila Taylor

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  2. Tosh Cuellar

    Powerful stuff, great story.

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  3. Kevin Sutton

    I lost a dear friend to CF some years ago. Health is indeed a priceless gift and we are all here for a short time. We should all live life to the fullest of our capabilities. Just keep being awesome Jan your photo work is great!

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  4. Aaron Cheney

    What an amazingly beautiful and inspiring story. The attitude, fight, and determination Jan has is just incredible. I am just at a loss for words. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. Tyler Friesen

    Great story. Thanks for posting. It is always inspiring to see someone with so much strength and a positive attitude to push through hard times.

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