Personality to spare

Many children I photograph act a little shy at first. A few cry or refuse to look at the camera. (As long as I can get the parents to stop pleading, scolding and threatening them, I can usually distract them enough to get some good shots.) Other kids, in an effort to do the right thing, give me the same uneasy smile, as they listen to a parent call out to them, “Be good for your picture!”

But my favorite subjects have so much personality, that they just can’t keep it inside. Every thought seems to bring a new expression, and every minute a fresh willingness to play and pretend. This little dynamo (call him Dennis) brought me great joy with his every move.

Dennis just thinking...
Dennis just thinking…

My assisting photographer called Dennis “the art director,” because he kept running over to me and asking to see his photo on the camera’s LCD.

"Show me sleepy," I asked.
“Show me sleepy,” I asked.

Posing on Dad’s shoulders, he reached for convenient handles…

Father and son
Father and son

After I asked Dennis to “Be a banana,” he obliged. Then he said he wanted to be a Chicken McNuggett.

This is what a Chicken McNuggett looks like.
This is what a Chicken McNuggett looks like.


(“Dennis” is not the child’s real name. We protect his privacy by withholding his name.)

Talking about Disney World

I’m so glad that I’ve been to Disney World, so that Sasha* and I could talk about her recent trip. She had a great time and got these pretty Minnie Mouse earrings there.  While she thought about Disney World, her face told the story.

Shy at first
Shy at first


FOH-AR-67*I protect the privacy of patients by using a fictitious name in the blog.

I shot these portraits on January 16, 2016 as a volunteer at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for the Flashes of Hope program.

Flashes of Hope

Today I’m getting ready for a full day of shooting portraits at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for Flashes of Hope. This is a volunteer gig I do once or twice a year to benefit kids who have cancer or another serious illness. I only have about 15 minutes to capture several wonderful and different portraits of each child. The biggest challenge is to get the child to warm up and relax in front of the camera as quickly as possible. Of course, we try to make the shoot a fun experience — a special day to feel like a movie star, or just to be yourself and be loved for who you are. The children may range in age from newborn to college student, but most of my subjects have fallen into the 4 to 12 age range. I’ll bring all the Mommy charm I have inside, all the photography know-how and give it my best.

Here is one portrait from last June. Identities are confidential. Say a prayer that all these children will be blessed with a recovery to full health.

Portrait by Cathy Kelly for Flashes of Hope 6/2015
Portrait by Cathy Kelly for Flashes of Hope 6/2015