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Family of photographer funds photography scholarship in his honor

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It's an amazing photo of a dust storm in downtown Phoenix. You may have seen it on social media or even shared it yourself.

Many thought it was from a week ago of that big dust storm that rolled through the valley.

But the image is from 2011, it was taken by a man named Daniel Bryant. Saint Joseph's hospital originally purchased it for a health magazine talking about valley fever.

The photo was popular and used in multiple other publications including National Geographic, Reader's Digest, and a NASA Brochure.

Bryant died in 2012, but his photo lives on.

A lot of people were sharing it since last week's dust storm, they thought it was current and not giving any credit to the photographer. They include American Idol winner and Arizona native Jordin Sparks. The photo appeared on her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

When someone accused her of stealing the photo, the singer tweeted that she didn't steal anything, saying it's all over the internet. Now Daniel's mom is speaking out and sharing her son's story. She wants to let others know about the origin of the image.

"It just seems to happen, and it's pretty frustrating to me to see it, and especially frustrating when someone else has taken the credit for the picture, or acting like the storm just happened, and they've just taken this picture," said Cindy Bryant.

Cindy Bryant is talking about an image taken by her son Daniel of a monster dust storm that swallowed downtown Phoenix on July 5th, 2011.

Every summer storm season since then the photo seems to make the rounds on social media, including last week.

"I normally don't have to be the one to say anything to them, because again the big presence, the friendship, people are very much coming to his defense," said Bryant.

Daniel died at the age of 33 in November of 2012, when he took his own life.

"Daniel was gay, and he was the victim of a hate crime in Las Vegas, it really put him kind of over the edge is what happened," said Cindy.

Cindy said her son did not come out in high school; he struggled with depression, but photography really changed things for him. "It gave him confidence; it gave him purpose, and he was always with a camera since he was a freshman," she said.

Knowing his passion for photography, Cindy is giving back in her son's honor. She's funding an annual scholarship program called the Daniel Jamen Bryant Creative Vision Award for photography students at Centennial High School where Daniel attended.

"We were able to choose a student to give a very amazing camera to, that they can take and could make a living with that camera if that is what they choose to do," she said.

Cindy hopes to expand the program to other teens. "It really gave Daniel a direction that he went with the rest of his life, and it was really, very special," said Cindy.
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