Former Arc AD’s portraits help kids battle cancer

“Captain America” at The Bean

Marvel has The Avengers. DC has The Justice League. And now internationally recognized photographer and former art director Rob Gregory has turned a group of child cancer patients into what we already knew they were.


Gregory has created a series of portraits, featuring children from the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, dressed as superheroes and has dubbed them, Tiny Titans.

The breathtaking series of five portraits each features a child, who remains anonymous, dressed as their choice of hero posing in front of dramatic backdrops of Chicago. It’s the culmination of a personal journey for Gregory, a Cancer survivor himself.

‘As a cancer survivor, I believe that attitude plays a huge role in being able to overcome the challenges we face in life,” says Gregory.

“I wanted to help shape their attitudes in this fight and help them see themselves as we already see them superheroes.”

After getting the idea, Gregory contacted Lurie to see if they would be interested. They were – as long as Gregory could handle the production himself. The photographer brought in costumes for the kids to sort through in September of 2016. According to the photographer, the kids and their families were surprised and delighted.

“I just wanted to brighten their days. Going to Cancer treatment every day can get really monotonous. The kids and parents both loved it. They kept running back and changing because they couldn’t make up their minds who they wanted to be.”

Rob Gregory

Gregory received his MA in Art Direction from Creative Circus, Atlanta, in 2010. After working in real estate for a while, he finally landed a job at JWT, Atlanta, working on the Marines. It was here he was diagnosed with a rare cancer Synovial Sarcoma, which eventually led to his leg being amputated.

“I plugged my numbers into the survival calculator and got a 35% chance to live five years. I’m six years out and Cancer-free right now. But it really clarified things for me and made me realize that life can change pretty quickly. So I started working toward my life goal of becoming a photographer.”

Eventually, Gregory was hired by Arc Worldwide in Chicago as an Art Director on the Capitol one account. Finally, he decided it was time to move on and become a full-time photographer – first taking dramatic portraits of guys he met playing wheelchair basketball and eventually the kids.

When asked about his future plans for Tiny Titans, Gregory said he would like to expand it into a kind of the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge.

“Oh I’d love to blow this out and get people to maybe dress up as superheroes and change their Facebook profile pics during September and donate money to Alex’s Lemonade Stand,” he said. “But I really just wanted everyone to be happy. The kids see themselves as heroes. And so do their families.”

Are you listening Marvel? DC?

LA-Based Colin Costello writes for film, TV, advertising and of course, Reel Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.