A Portrait of Resiliency: Thomas Balsamo and Life After His Diagnosis

The Talk in 60010
December 1, 2015

“I think a lot of people have this notion that I’m not working, but it’s actually been one of the busiest times of my life,” said Thomas Balsamo, renowned photographer and owner of Portraits by Thomas.

Keeping busy could be the understatement of the year for Balsamo. Since his diagnosis of stage 4 mantle lymphoma, he hasn’t lost a step in spreading his creative and philanthropic talents into diverse ventures. Not only has he opened up a new location for his award-winning portrait studio, but has also been collaborating with his son Wade on a new art film titled Paracosm. Both have been occupied in promoting and sending their work to various film festivals throughout the country.

[Paracosm] started as an idea for a weekend film project, but it grew into so much more,” said Balsamo, “We had great cast and were able to shoot in some fantastic locations such as the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake.”

Not only has Balsamo been working with his son on film production, but has also brought him on as a partner in Portraits by Thomas. In the past year, Balsamo has been teaching him his sought after technique in portrait photography.

“[Wade] is an amazing partner and we’ve been having so much fun,” said Balsamo, “I’ve been shooting portraiture since I was 18 years old and I’m fortunate to be able keep this going.

Along with Portraits by Thomas, the new studio space is home to the father-son duo’s production company World Touch Productions. Launched over five years ago, the company started as a side project, but is steadily gaining momentum. With a string of nonprofits that have already enlisted their services, one of the biggest projects World Touch Productions has been working on is a full-length documentary about autism, an extension to Balsamo’s acclaimed 2003 book titled Souls: Beneath & Beyond Autism.

“We’re doing something really important with this film that will change the way the world perceives individuals dealing with Autism.”

If this wasn’t enough, Balsamo also finds time to lead meditation groups for cancer patients/survivors within yoga studios, private residences, and even the Icehouse Mall.

“The meditation groups kind of fell together. I started doing them in the summer with a select group of friends and then word just spread.”

Websites such as “The Friends of Thomas” have been set up for generating donations in order to cover extensive medical costs. Balsamo received his diagnosis in November of 2014 and has been in treatment for the past five months.

“I’m really grateful for the help and support I received. The contributions have helped me greatly through this time.”

While facing true uncertainty with his health, Thomas Balsamo has taught us how to be resilient. He has continued forward and chosen to give back now more than ever through his artistic abilities.

To see examples of Thomas’s work, visit www.portraitsbythomasbalsamo.com.