if there is one reason to break my blog silence, it is this:  a cry for help.

a cry for help, for hope, for prayer, for compassion, and for strength.  as much as you can give, and as much as they can get.

meet the Malins.

i had the pleasure of getting to know the malin family back in may when one of my favorite clients set up a very spur-of-the-moment shoot for them.  the malins are one of those families that i love working with– they are the happy, laid-back, roll-with-the-punches sort that just oozes love and every good thing that makes a family a family.

so if you’ve tried to set up a session with me anytime in the past 2 years, you know that spur-of-the-moment just doesn’t happen unless it is planned at least 3 months in advance… but there are exceptions to every rule, and there comes a time in each person’s life when she is called on to serve a higher purpose.

you see, mike had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor for the second time and was in the beginning stages of radiation.  he had beat the C monster once before, but, with kids ages 3 and 1.5, a family shoot was in order before those all-familiar side effects of radiation kicked in.

unfortunately, after radiation, brain surgery, and rehab, the M family has just received the worst news possible:  mike’s doctors discovered new tumors that indicate that this is not a winning battle for him.  mike is now at home spending his last few days surrounded by love ones.  it is the hardest thing to think about sweet D & A losing such a fun, kind-spirited, amazing daddy, but my hope is that one day they will look back at these images and not just see, but feel how much their daddy loves them.  (because boy does he ever)

so this is where you come in:  do what you can.  pray. send strength to the malin family in any way you know how.  both mike and cathy stopped working in order to fight this cancer with everything they have, so one of the biggest things you can do is help the family with the mountain of medical bills they face by donating here:


any and every little thing helps, there is no donation too large or too small.

i can think of no better thing for us to do than to allow mike the peace of knowing that his young family will be taken care of

as i was sitting down to write this post, i flipped back through all of the images from our shoot and one theme seemed undeniable:  a mother’s love is a supernatural power.

there was one shot in particular where each mother was protectively looking over her child(ren)… it just happened… it was natural, instinctual, and something every mother can connect with instantly.  you can almost feel the total selflessness both Cathy and Mike’s mom have taken on– with a joyful, willing heart, no less….. almost as if neither realizes the depth of her sacrifice as she carries her family through this.

i can’t imagine being in either mother’s shoes… or maybe the horrifying truth is that i can, and it is unbearable even in thought alone.  both cathy and mike’s mom carry on with an elegant grace and calm power that you know wells up from something far beyond will.

in fact, everyone around the malin family comments on how how impossibly strong cathy is… but i think perhaps it’s not strength, perhaps it is love in love’s most perfect form.  afterall, even strength has its limits, but these women surpassed those long long ago.

{UPDATE:  9/10/13    Mike passed away last night.  while we lift him up and remember him,  we also need to surround and comfort his precious family as best we can.  keep up the good work with the donations– let’s take care of Mike’s family on his behalf and give Cathy and the kids the stability they need as they transition into a very difficult “new normal.”  i am heartened by the generosity of strangers, knowing that this is the sort of love that changes the world.}

{…for my power is made perfect in weakness  IIcor12:9 }

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miss J is another one i’ve known since she was days old– and she happens to be part of one awesome family.  no, really.   it is very extremely rare for me to meet a client who makes me forget that i’m not back home in the heart of Dixie– must be something about that easy-going, friendly, fun way about them.   growing up, we always called this type of people “good folks” (you can go ahead and draw out that gooooood- and throw a little head nod in there for good measure).   good folks tend to raise good folks, so i think it’s safe to say that miss J has a great future laid out for her.

it’s hard to believe that miss J is already a big sister (let’s be realistic and say that you’ll be seeing that session way on down the road), but for now, here’s a little look at being 1.

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it’s unbelievable how quickly miss L grew from this tiny little beauty to a gorgeous little 1-year-old, but it’s even more unbelievable that we are quickly approaching her 2-year-old photo shoot!    despite a strange impromptu ‘playdate’ toward the end of our session, L was an absolute dream to photograph!!  (i mean really, maybe let’s not to allow your grandchildren to actually come sit on the family being photographed while you stand next to the photographer, blankly staring at them for 15 minutes any amount of time longer than 10 seconds?  definitely goes in the piggy bank of strangest things that have ever happened during a shoot).

either way, i think it’s safe to say that miss L can probably get anything she wants with that little head turn, no?

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sweet mr M was my first session back from having our second baby, and what a fun way to dust off my working shoes!  the most fun thing about mr M is that you never know what you’re gonna get, and that day i got… a monkey.  glued to a tree.  who didn’t want to do anything else.  😉  once we got our monkey noises out of the way and pried him off the birch, he was all set for adventure time!!  (and would you just look at those happy eyes!?  this kid smiles with his whole face– 100% contagious!)

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this incredible little mister has been my client since he was -2 months old, hanging out in his mama’s belly, and it has been so much fun getting to photograph him along the way!

unfortunately, mr I’s one-year-old session was his last in baltimore since the C family uprooted for friendly folks, down-home-cookin’ , and a gentler way of life shortly thereafter.  of course i’m going to miss one of my favorite families to photograph, but heading South is something i understand with just about every fiber of my being 😉  so three cheers for SC  and the hope that we get to work together again someday in sweet Dixie!

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the saying goes “good fences make good neighbors,” but in my experience i say forget the fences, good neighbors make good neighbors.

this rang especially true in our last home downtown, where we were blessed to have the P family move into the row home next to ours.  we had a few other good neighbors on the block, but none that were more helpful than the awesome P fam…  in fact, they may have rescued me on a few too many occasions when i was home alone with the kids… there was the time my 2.5-year-old locked the two of us out on the second story deck- with our 6-month-old alone inside,  the several times i couldn’t figure out how to open our garage door during power outages (for real, why are those things so complicated?), the spare floor boards they gave us for replacement so we didn’t have to buy a whole box, and the many times i had to run over with a jar of whatever that i couldn’t get open by myself.  i’m not sure i ever rescued them in the way they did us– they’re on top of things like that– but i have absolutely loved getting to know them and getting to photograph beautiful miss L along the way.

this was miss L’s 6-month session (there is a 1-year session somewhere in my list of to-blogs), but i couldn’t be more excited to do miss L’s next session as a BIG SISTER soon!

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in the spirit of good friends, i thought i’d do a little throwback to miss a’s newborn shoot.   sweet miss a’s mama was a very close friend of mine in middle and high school.  we went our separate ways to college (she to VA, i to SC).  when her parents moved away from our hometown and she landed one of those crazy ‘who-would-have-ever-thought’ type jobs in DC, i figured our time of living nearby was over.  wrong!

as our crazy adventure in medicine rolled on, jeff and i made our way from SC to WV to baltimore, and miss a’s mama and i found ourselves pregnant at the same time with only 60ish miles between us. in fact, miss a was my last photo session before having our own little mister!   there’s just something about finding your way back to an old friend at a time when one is a few days postpartum and the other is shrek-style-mega-pregnant.  it’s almost comical really… one of those ‘look at us now’/’what have we done’ sort of moments.  in the end, we’ve seen each other at our worst and our best, and that’s one of those things time just never takes away.

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i owe much of my photography business to two people.  the first being my in-laws for giving me my first hand-me-down dslr in 2009, and the second being this lady.  B is solely responsible for pushing me into starting up this crazy little thing i’ve got going here, and i couldn’t possibly be more grateful.  she believed in my photography looooooooong before i ever did, and somehow managed to set up my first gig before i had even considered this dream could be a reality.   anyone that knows me well can tell you that i am extremely cautious about change.  that doesn’t mean that i don’t like it, but i try to over-prepare and consider every outcome before i’m willing to jump off the ledge.  (i know, over-prepare for the unknown?  i sound like a crazy person.)  B is the total opposite– she sees a great idea and goes for it with wild abandon…   i love and admire that about her.

so yeah.  here is B and her awesome family from our 2011 holiday session.  couldn’t be happier to call these fiiiiine folks our friends 🙂

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one thing i realized in december 2011 as soon as i saw sweet newborn A:  ” this kid inside my belly is probably about the same size as this kid i’m about to photograph!”

and judging by the size of my little chunker when he was born, i’m pretty sure i was right!

miss a was such a pleasure to photograph– maneuvering around my then-enormous belly was no easy task, but she certainly made it easier.  she had the sweetest disposition and squishy little lips!

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miss L was so sweet and smiley on that perfectly crisp (ok. cold.) fall morning…. in 2011.   are you seeing the throwback theme yet?  because it’s going to continue for a good while as i play catch up.  something about two kids throws even the most organized person in to a spiral of procrastination…. or survival.

yeah, survival.  😉

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all images copyright 2010 amy mullins