Beautiful mothers

As I continue to process the portraits I made at Childrens Hospital last week, I find myself gazing into the eyes of the brave hearted children and their beautiful mothers. These mothers are exceptional because they have risen to the challenge to inspire calm in their children as they hold fast to enduring hope for better days ahead.

#flashesofhope, #love, #mother, #cancer
Mother and son.

They hold firmly onto their dreams for a bright future for their children, even as they balance private worries they dare not speak. In their eyes, you can read the strength they embody.

#portrait, #flashesofhope, #mother, #cancer, #love
Their eyes.

The mother, the father, the grandmother, the visiting uncle, the little sister — the intensity of their love is a big part of the cure.

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.

Cancer and kinship

While photographing this mother and daughter at Children’s Hospital last week, I asked Mom if she shaved her head to support her daughter going through chemotherapy.


“I let Mary shave my head,” she replied. “My hair was really, really long, and I let her shave it all off.”

“And now you will grow your hair back together,” I said.

The intimacy between the two was also evident in the playfulness they revealed. I try to capture both the playful moments as well as the sober ones when my subjects are relaxed enough to share both with me.

Who wins?
Who wins?

*Mary is a fictitious name. We protect the privacy of patients by keeping their identities private.

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