TODAY   |  December 20, 2013

Widower recreates wedding photos with daughter

Ben Nunery wanted to keep the memories of his late wife alive with his young daughter, and decided to remake images with the child in the exact places where he posed with his wife years earlier. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>>> caught the eye of and became it's most social story of the year. 5 million page views and more than 300,000 likes. it's about a young widower who found a touching way to make sure the memory of his wife lived on for their daughter.

>> when allie learned in 2011 she wouldn't survive a rare form of lung cancer , her daughter olivia was just a year old and her greatest fear, says husband ben , was one any mom could understand.

>> one of her biggest concerns was olivia forgetting her and not remembering her.

>> reporter: ben was determined not to let that happen. remembering that a few years ago her sister melanie had taken the couple's wedding photos in their new home before they even moved in, ben called melanie for another photo session . he and his now 3-year-old daughter were moving out so the house was empty again and an idea was born.

>> i had a lot of anxiety going into the session.

>> reporter: this time pictures of a dad and daughter where a young bride and groom once stood. on a day when life was full of promise and the future was unknown.

>> i knew this would be the last time i was in that house and the last time i was going to feel her everywhere and see her everywhere. that was it.

>> reporter: in some of the same spots where ben and allie for photographed she now snapped ben and olivia . she posted the photos on her blog never expecting what happened next. within days they went viral. seemingly touching a collective nerve. they have now been seen all over the world.

>> i think that so many people just want to see people living gracefully after a devastating loss. and showing people that you can go on and ben can heal and we all can heal together.

>> reporter: but in the end, these photos are for a little girl who lost mommy far too soon. they will be treasured for the rest of olivia 's life, even as others admire them now.

>> they see hope in these photos and that's really what i want from this. and, you know, we lose our loved ones and they go away and it's painful and it hurts, but the love doesn't go away. that never goes away.

>> reporter: a beautiful tribute as photos help keep memories alive. for today, nbc news cincinnati.

>> oh. so heartbreaking.

>> living gracefully after a tragedy. those photos represent that grace.

>> what a beautiful thing to do. can you imagine how she'll treasure those.

>> she'll cherish those photos.

>> unlike video these are moments in time that are frozen forever.

>> love that. great story.

>> so coming up, we have got ethan hawke here. it's his turn on broadway. he is working hard.

>> he is. he plays in macbeth and he is going