I usually get the question, "How did you become a photographer", well, here is a short version! You see, I come from a long line of photographers in our family, starting with my brother, Doug. (I always call him my "younger" brother but he is 7 years older than me.) He is the youngest boy in the family, the funny one, the creative one and the one you go to whenever you need something fixed!!! But what I love most about Doug is his passion for photography! While in my 20s, living in Montreal, I would visit him in Toronto and learn about his lastest wedding or creative project he was working on. He would have me captivated by his sheer passion and that is when the passion was instilled in me. He became my mentor. And, I became his model! He photographed me in and around the City and some at his house. I still have those images and treasure them now that I am more "mature!" Doug has since retired and uses his photography skills as a much-loved hobby and I am so happy to share some of his images on my blog! As we say in New Brunswick, "Way to go, big bro...or is it little bro?"
This is a sample of Doug's creativity. Simply gorgeous!
When I see this, I see God's creation all in this one photograph. I can look at this all day long! It is that captivating!
~a beautiful portrait of my beloved hometown, Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada~
During the time I was watching and listening, it never dawned on me that I, too, could learn the craft. My confidence was non-existent, so I didn't pursue what eventually would become my life long passion. I felt I would fail. Thus, I continued to teach and then when my second son was born, I knew the time had come for me to learn. So, that Christmas I asked for and received my first SLR. How I loved and hated that camera. Loved it because it gave me my freedom to test my creativity and hated it because I wanted to learn it all right then, right there! My biggest weakness is no patience!!! I didn't want to wait. But, I had to. I took many recreational courses and when we moved to Maryland, I finally took my passion to the next level and went to school. It was there that I learned all the basics and took all the required tests, along with everyone else! The turning point in my life was asking my professor if I had what it took to become professional. His response? And, you have to ask me that question, why? Shortly thereafter, I hung my single and Visual Concepts was born. Photography has allowed me to see life through the lens. My favorite part is learning all about my subject. It's all about emotion, capturing that emotion, moments in time that are then rendered to precious memories to last a lifetime! I am so blessed to have created so many images for so many clients who trusted me, believed in me and who ultimately became my friends! I am humbled by your confidence in me. Thank you for allowing me to become a part of your family.
And, speaking of family, the photography gene has moved on to the next generation in our family. I have nieces and nephews who are very much involved in photography, as well as great-nieces and nephews! It warms my heart! My beautiful niece and god-daughter, Colleen who has lived many years in the great white north...and I mean NORTH! has an amazing eye for nature and she has happily given me some of her images to share. She is passionate, a free spirit, beautiful, funny, strong and a delight to hang out with, even if it is on Skype! This is one girl who knows her mind!!! Oh, did I mention that she owns a Harley!!!! She is 17 years my junior and I am captivated by her beauty and her soul!
(she clearly has the McCarthy eyes!)
I love the above photographs as I relate her as the wild animal whisperer, Wouldn't you agree?
(I am not sure I am that brave!!)
Have you ever seen a flower portrait this beautiful??? I love the backlighting, detail and simplicity of this photograph! Makes me yearn for SPRING!
I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful, crazy, Irish family who love photography!!! We can talk shop and hours go by without our even realizing it!!! As they say, "time flies by when you are having fun!"
Hopefully, both Doug and Colleen will continue to share with me their upcoming projects so I can get to boast about them here on my blog. I am ever-so proud of my brother and beautiful neice and honored that they would share with me so I can share with you some of their amazing portraits!
I received this note from Lisa Michelsen, Donor Relations Manager, AAMC Foundation written to her by Carol Lacher, MSN, RN, Clinical Director NICU. I wanted to share this with you so you would know where the money went that you raised through our angel calendar fundraiser:
Please let Linda McCarthy know that we used the donation funds in the NICU for education to staff throughout the Clatanoff on STABLE course. We had 4 classes, paid 2 instructors, and the books to provide during class time. Each class had 10-15 RN’s attend for the education last year. The STABLE class provides essential education in stabilization of the newborn and helping NICU RN’s and Mother Baby/Pediatric/OR staff caring for babies. STABLE for sugar, temperature, artificial breathing, lab work, and emotional support to families. In addition we had a Cardiac Stable course. Roseanne Thompson and Webra Price-Douglas are the instructors that support the outreach for our staff and other hospitals.
The donations also supported 2 more neonatal code carts to store our special NICU medications when a baby is not doing well, the supplies, and equipment to provide safe quality care. Linda helped us before to purchase 2 carts. This incredible support from Linda and her work is so amazing and we could not do this without her divine, magically support.
If we are in a good place this year with support for our Angel Calendars, I have a great idea. Maybe some of the money can support a NICU Reunion and complete the need for 10 more room chairs that are washable. We have found the need to provide replacements for chairs in the main NICU for the desk area in each room. Thank you again for the excellence in caring about our community and NICU. Carol Lacher
Trust me when I say to you how proud I am of this amazing fundraiser! Not only do I get to meet THE most faboulous FAMILIES, I get to photograph their beautiful angels. You believed in me, trusted me and reached out to raise money for such a worthy cause. I am humbled by all of you who answered the call. Without you, we would not have been able to achieve what is so much needed in NICU. Thank you!!!
Can we repeat the process this year and have a NICU Reunion? How wonderful would that be?Tr?? Let's band together to make it happen!!! We are currently looking for angel models ages 0-36 (all are welcome!!) to be considered for the 2015 L'il Angel Calendar. Please click here for more information.
anne arundel county
l'il angel calendar
When we take a photograph of ourselves or have a professional photographer take a family portrait, it isn't really just for us but it is for the generations that follows us to be shared and cherished like treasures! Today, I have such a treat for you and can't wait to share it with you!! As you know, this photographer is all about family that identifies who were are, where we come from and to some degree where we are going. In my previous post, I wrote about "Generations" and had the privilege of photographing my client's grandmother, Ms. Vivian. Well, the beautiful Ms. Vivian has a wonderful story to share and fabulous photographs that I have the good fortune to share with you!!
The July, 1976 Annapolitan featured an article on Vivian Gills, Ziegfield Girl, the one, the only, the stunningly beautiful, Ms. Vivian!! Here is the full excerpt for your enjoyment:
"VIVIAN GILLIS ZIEGFIELD GIRL" by Ann Johnson
"If you want it, it's out there," Vivian Gillis tells beginning real estate agents. That's a lesson she learned years ago, not in a real estate course, but on the stage at the Radio City Music Hall.
Back in the 40's you earned $40 a week, and rehearsed as many as 16 or 18 hours a day to be a chorus girl at Radio City. That was not much better than when Vivian was working for Ziegfield at $33 a week. For all the apparent glamour, it was mainly a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and low pay to be a show girl. The prospects didn't look any better as long as you stayed on the line, even if you were a famed Ziegfield Girl or a Rockette, so Vivian went back to school.
The school was the Jack Stanley School of Dance in New York whose graduates included up and coming young dancers like Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen. Through Jack Stanley, Vivian found an agent and soon was soloing at a steady $250 a week. Vivian was billed mainly as a tap and rythmn dancer, but she frequently was called on to do everything from tap to hula to acrobatics.
The hard work and sacrifice didn't stop, but the better pay as a professional, rather than a chorus girl, made it a lot more worthwhile, and the variety made it a lot more fun. For Vivian, dancing was fun, but her career as a dancer had far more serious origins.
Dancing, or anything else, for that matter, seemed like it would be the last thing that Vivian would do when in 1934 she and her family returned to their home in Washington, D.C. from a summer visit in Shadyside. Eight year old Vivian became the first recorded case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in D.C. history to survive. For nine days, she fought the fever, which sent her temperature soaring to 108 degrees. When the fever finally subsided, Vivian had lost 40 pounds, her hair had turned completely grey and her heart had been severely weakened.
Vivian's mother, Helen Nicholoson, had always been an advocate of physical fitness and exercise, and she felt that dancing would the best method for Vivian to regain her health and strengthen her heart. There was a minor problem. Where to find a dance school. Helen Nicholson solved that one by opening her own school.
Vivian was soon an accomplished dancer, and there was not the least suggestion that she had been the victim of such a sever illness when, at the age of 16, she was crowned Miss Southern Maryland, but New York was really the place to be if you wanted to make your career as a dancer.
Her experience as a Ziegfield Girl tested Vivian's dedication as it had never been tested before. "With Ziegfield you got to do everything you wanted to do as a dancer," she remembers, "and some things you didn't." You didn't sit down in your costume, if they told you not to, even if you'd been on your feet rehearsing all day. If, after 14 hours, they called you back to re-do a number and you wait around for another two hours, you didn't refuse. There had to be a better way to make it as a dancer, and that was when Vivian found Jack Stanley.
The war was on at that time, and most entertainers did their stint in USO shows. Vivian was no exception. She toured Europe dancing for khaki clad audiences in unlighted tents, ready to shut down any moment when the air raid sirens blew.
In 1946, she was the understudy for "Guys and Dolls," and over the next few years appeared in all of the Copa and Latin Quarter shows. She also toured with the big bands, like those of Les Brown and Russ Morgan. At about the same time, a brand new entertainment medium appeared on the scene. Vivian danced on the Circus Show with Betty Hutton, which was one of the first variety shows to appear on television.
Videotaping had not yet been developed for regular use at that time. Shows were done live, and, from an entertainer's point of view were not far different from performing on a theater stage. On the Circus Show, Vivian had the misfortune to follow a group of dancing bears who did not wait until they got off stage to relieve themselves. Her number was a hula--danced barefoot, naturally--and white sand beaches and swaying palm tress were hard to keep in mind under the circumstances.
In the meantime, Helen Nicholson's dance studio was still going strong in Washington, D.C. and Vivian had met a young man in Washington by the name of Reid Gills. The two facts combined to bring Vivian home to the District. She continued to dance and also organized a professional dance troupe called the "Vivianettes." Her career was doing fine, but soon she found her relationship with Reid had hit a snag. As it turned out, he was no dancer. When they went on dates, he would say, "Let's dance" and Vivian would say "Let's not." "He was the world's worst dancer," she remembers but that was not for long. "He got so angry, he went to learn to dance from Arthur Murray," she says. Reid not only learned to dance, he became Arthur Murray's top teacher in Washington, and taught a certain Mr. and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson how to dance.
Vivian and Reid did marry, and along with raising a family Vivian continued to perform, to manage the "Vivianettes" and eventually to take over her mother's dance school. She did an exercise segment for the "Today Show" and also for a D. C. produced program called, "Inga's Angle." She and the "Vivianettes" performed in Washington and up and down the East Coast. They were a regular attraction at the Shriners' annual Potentate Parties. Vivian saw to it, and the Shriners know that the "Vivianettes" were strictly business. They also danced with Jack Morton's bands in Washington and did the Tony Grant Show on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City.
Around Washington, Miss Vivian was well known to many a youngster, and her students were regulars on local TV variety shows. Those who studied gymnastics with her went on to the Junior Olympics. One of her more talented students of the dance went on to make a hame for himself. Not in the field of dance, however, Young Larry Kelly, as she knew him, is now Prince George's County Executive. "I will never call him Winfield," she says. "He's still Larry to me."
Frequently Vivian was on the road, if only for brief trips, and then on weekends she and her husband packed up for West River where he kept his boat. "I finally decided I'd lived out of suitcases long enough," Vivian says, so she and Reid and their 3 children moved to Turkey Point and have been there ever since.
The Gills have 3 children, two sons and a daughter. Vivian's daughter, Helen has followed in her mother's footsteps. She toured with the Rockettes during ther 16th summer, and at 19 she was dancing with the "Vivianettes" who appeared with Jimmy Durante in the last show that he gave at the Shoreham Hotel's Blue Room. She now teaches dance for the Recreation Department in the County Schools.
In 1962, Vivian was injured in an automobile accident and had to give up dancing. Many of her students, however, are still dancing and teaching. The "Vivianettes" are still performing, managed now by Linda Natoli who has a dance studio in Prince George's County.
Vivian is now well into a new career as a real estate agent. She and her husband own Chesapeake Bay Real Estate, a Century 21 company in May, and Vivian is pursuing this career with the same energy and enthusiasm that she agave to dancing. After only 4 years as an agent, she is going on her second year as a $1,000,000 salesman. It is ironic to note that back when Vivian was starting out as a dancer and asked her agent how she should invest her money, he told her to put it into real estate.
The real estate buisness occupies most of Vivian's attention now, and she hopes it will take off like the dancing school did. As for the days of Ziegfield, TV shows, and nightclub performances? "I had a great time," she says. "It was enjoyable and I had fun while I was doing it. Dancing school is a good experience for any child. If you go all the way through and learn to do everything, even those things you don't like to do, it will help you later in life no matter what profession you choose. Aside from that, all the rest and a dime will get you a cup of coffee."
Ms. Vivian, if you are reading this, I thank you for taking time out of your schedule for allowing this humbled photographer to capture your beautiful image and for sharing your story with my readers. What a beautiful legacy you leave to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren! It was an honor and a privilege!
THE VALUE OF FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY
It all started with a local OBGYN who agreed to display my portraits on the walls of her practice. Not any portrait, mind you, but she definitely wanted portraits of "women generations". She was onto something that I did not realize at the time.
In my quest, I found two beautiful families who were willing to be my models. One was a client who just had a baby boy so the timing was perfect! It was during that session, that through my eyes, I was witness to beautiful women coming together with the common bond that weaves through them. The matriarch of this family is beautiful, warm, and loving. You can see it in her eyes, her laughter and her warmth.
And, while we were all together, we embarked on "relationship series" photos that emit emotion, joy and love between a great-grandmother and her newborn great-grandson, two children with the look of wonder as they cradle their newborn brother, the laughter and joy that comes from a child and the beauty of three strong women coming together to celebrate life
My next client is a lovely lady whom I have worked with for years. She had given birth to her second child, a daughter over a year ago and was thrilled to have this opportunity, so began the privilege of photographing 4 generations of beautiful, strong women. The matriarch, Ms. Vivian, was a Zeigfeld Follies Girl(watch for my next blog dedicated to her) and trust me, she still has the spirit!!! She had me at her bright blue eyes that twinkled with a "je ne sais quoi" look. I was hooked!! It was beautiful to see her in her 80s, still looking very radiant, classy and elegant. But what touched me deeply was the relationship she had with her sweet great-granddaughter, Claire. It was pure love!
After the session, my client, Vivian, Ms. Vivian's granddaughter, took in the scene around her and realized the enormity of it all. After all, this was her beloved grandmother, who gave birth to her beloved mother and she in turn gave birth to baby Claire who in the photo below seems to say with her look, "Yep, they belong to me! I come from a long line of beautiful, strong women. Ah, the circle of life….
Photography gives us that rare opportunity to be witness to something so beautiful, so unique and so loving. To be able to create portraits that one knows will be cherished for years to come is indeed such an honor. To know that I am part of that legacy is the reason why I have such a deep love for the art of photography.
After photographing these two beautiful families, I got to thinking about my own family. No, we do not have a "generations" photo but I sure wish we did! My boys adored my mother and she adored them. But I do have this one photo of her as a little girl that sits on my desk and reminds me how time has a way of flying by but a photograph can stop it in a second. When I look at this photo, I see a strong resemblance and I see it passed on through my children.
I didn't know my father's family very well, but here is a photograph I fell in love with the day I saw it. My father is a young boy in this photo and as he aged he truly resembled his Dad. The McCarthy gene is very strong in our family and back home it is common for someone to say, "You are a McCarthy, aren't you?"
If I were to describe the meaning of photography it would be capturing moments and preserving them into treasured memories to be enjoyed for years to come. We look back upon treasured photos trying to identify the family members, seeing the resemblance and feeling the connection to that person or family. It is what identifies who were are. As I get older, I realize that it isn't what I have in material things that count; it's family. That's what matters. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, we have our memories and our photographs. How will you preserve your family memories?
greater annapolis area photographer
south county photographer
2014 L'IL ANGEL COVER
It's that time of year again where we put out the call for angel models to participate in our L'il Angel Calendar fundraiser to benefit AAMC NICU. We are coming up to our 8th year and to date we have raised over $90,000. This IS the year we will break $100,000!!!
Visual Concepts has partnered with Rachael Powers at The Honey Have Artisian Bakery and Cake on 155 Mitchell's Chance Road, Edgewater, MD 21037 to display angel images plus baby/children portraits during the month of February.
To read more about Rachel, click here and check out her Facebook page
To jump start our Angel Campaign, we are hosting a reception on February 1 from 1-4 and hope to see you there for good food, good conversation and a chance to win a family portrait session and a complimentary 16x20 canvas. The first 20 people who arrive will receive great gift bags full of goodies, including a complimentary photo session and $100 worth of products.
We are thrilled to announce that A. L. Parks will be there to meet and greet! She is a successful local author and her latest book, The Return(the first of a trilogy) is a great read and highly recommended. Check out her website and Facebook page…
The Story of The L'il Angel Calendar Fundraiser
Linda has always tried to give back to the community through Visual Concepts in one way or another, whether it was for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County or for the local SPCA. In 2006, she wanted to do something different. She had heard about another photographer who had started the Little Angel Calendar fundraiser in her community with great success and with with her guidance and mentoring, Linda decided to do the same in her community. But who should be the beneficiary? Linda looked at numerous worthy causes but nothing was a complete fit. She decided that instead of looking for a cause, the cause will come to her. One day, as she was retrieving the mail, she found her first copy of AAMC's quarterly magazine and in the magazine was a full article on NICU. That's it! But, it took Linda 3 weeks to muster up the nerve to call Lisa Hillman who was then head of Foundation. Lisa returned her call and told her she had her blessing and thus the fundraiser was born! The next step was finding angels to volunteer for the task! With the help of her client, Lisa Saunders, they were able to enlist 13 angels and thus the first calendar went to print! Through a lot of hard work and many volunteers (thank you!), we sold numerous copies and raised $3,000 that first year! BUT, Linda wanted to take it one step further. Why not open it to the public and photograph many angels to be considered for the calendar? In order to do so, every angel would secure votes and the one with the most votes would make the cover!! So, we did and that year we raised $25,000!!! Thus, we knew we were onto something!
Each year, we receive numerous responses for our "call for angels" campaign and with their support, we were able to raise well over $90,000. This year, our "call for angels" campaign is underway and we will accept only 35 angels. However, we will start a "waiting list" for those who are interested in participating.
If you would like to participate, or would like more information, please call 410 626 7474 to make sure you are on our list!!! Please join our growing community in helping the tiniest, most vulnerable patient at AAMC by participating in this worthy event!!
UNCOVERED PAST: A CHRISTMAS TREASURE TROVE DISCOVERED
As we say goodbye to 2013 and make way for a bright new year, I decided to write a letter to YOU—my clients—who are the best people and mothers I know.
As I began the ritual cleaning before my children all came home for the holidays, I pulled a muscle. Unbeknownst to me, that would the best present of all. It was then, in the midst of my frustration and pain, I found a lovely little trove of letters. They were all stacked together and I recognized them instantly as the letters I had written to my children’s grandmother over the span of nearly a quarter of a century. I am forever indebted to her for saving them and for her family who safely saw their return passage from England back to my home.
These letters were certainly a blast from the past. I immediately took in all the words I had once written, a flood of nostalgia hitting me. What I remember from when I was a younger mother, wrestling with parenting and all that it had to offer, was mostly being very stressed, tired, and highly emotional. I questioned my ability to be a good wife, mother, and daughter in law. I was not much different from perhaps you, a new mother, who is finding it difficult to keep her head above water.
However, these letters told a different story. I delighted in my children, telling one of the various tales of Rory or Shaun's funny antics. My children were the light of my life, and I discovered I was indeed a very loyal and loving mother from these letters. They told of how I dealt with the ups and downs of life, and how I coped with the many scary and thrilling challenges of motherhood.
Here are some excerpts to entertain:
"June 1983…He has teeth coming in and managing quite well in spite of the discomfort. I was somewhat concerned that he slept so much 6 p.m. - 7 a.m. and two 2-hour naps a day. I asked the doctor if it was normal. She replied, "That's not normal, that LUCK!"
"Life is very exciting living with an 18 month old. So far, in the last few days, he has managed to turn on all the gas burners, climb on the kitchen table and my desk, hid on the window ledge in the breezeway after climbing on the sofa. I couldn't find him after leaving him in the room for 30 sec. He hid behind the curtain and kept very still playing his version of Peek A Boo!! But today was the last straw! Rory fell in the pond the other day. Well, today he thought that was such fun why not do it again. Ignorning my "NO, NO" he calmly stepped in and and proceeded to swim. "
"He is in a structured supervised play group for 3 hours. When I picked him up I was told he "cased the joint" in five minutes!"
"Shaun was being picked up to go to the doctor to get stitches out of his right leg due to a lacrosse accident. Unfortunately, his father arrived too late. He was discovered lying on the playground obviously very hurt. It turns out he broke his left leg so he was rushed off to the doctor's, not to get stitches out, but to get a cast!
What I would like you to take away from this is that LIFE IS NOT PERFECT. You will have many hills and valleys to overcome. After discovering my trove of letters, I felt as though I was awakened to what is really important in life. Don’t stress over "if you’re a “good” parent"—if you question that, you know you are. Parenting doesn't come with a manual. Trust your gut feeling. In almost all cases, it turns out to be right!!!
Be your child’s advocate. They look to you to help them whether you know it or not. Don’t worry about housework; it will always be there, but your child won’t. Believe it or not, they will grow up in the blink of an eye and will be out the door before you can tell them to pick up their toys. What I have learned through the course of parenting is this:
All your child wants is your undivided attention. Give it freely. You won’t regret it.
As I end this letter to you, don’t forget to read nighttime stories and allow for tons of hugs. (I can remember being so tired while reading to Shaun that I would literally fall asleep before he did!)
The art of letter writing has died and e-mails are the norm. Write to your mother or mother in law to give them updates and keep copies for safekeeping. If you journal, all the better. WRITE down what's happening and 30 years later, take time to read them. You will howl with laughter, you will cry with nostalgia but mostly you will be so grateful that you have something tangible to hand over to your child one day for safekeeping. It is your legacy.
TAKE MANY PHOTOS AND PRESERVE THEM! Do not leave them on your iPhone or your computer. Take time to make prints and preserve them in an album. Just like the wonderful discovery of my old letters that served as a reminder to me when I most needed it, so can those photos be. The best gift you can give your child is a professional wall portrait that says he/she is dearly loved and a valued member of your family. When friends come to your home and comment on the image, it reinforces in your child that he/she is loved. We all want our children to have a strong sense of self and a strong sense of family!
Know that you are loved by your children and family. Pat yourself on the back for doing a stellar job, Mom. You, my clients/friends, are undoubtedly the best people and mothers I know.
I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and are granted a wonderful 2014! Create beautiful moments for they, too, shall become cherished memories....
Michael received a card in the mail from the University at Buffalo where he received his PhD some years ago. This card features Robert Frost's poem, Carpe Diem, which I thought would be wonderful to share with you as we start the new year together!
Age saw two quiet children
Go loving by at twilight,
He knew not wheter omeward,
Or otward from the village,
Or (chimes were righing) churchward.
He waited (they were strangers)
Till they were out of hearing
To bid them both be happy.
"be happy, happy, happy,
And seize the day of pleasure."
The age-long theme is Age's.
"Twas Age imposed on poems
Their gather-oses brudern
To warn against thedanger
That overtaken lovers
From being overflooded
With happiness hould have it
And yet not know they have it.
But bid life seize the present?
It lives less in the present
Than in the future always,
And less in both together
Than in the past. The present
Is too much for the sense,
Too crowding, too confusing-
Too present to imagine.
We, at Visual Concepts, wish you a Very Happy New Year! May 2014 be filled with happiness, peace and love. Create beautiful memories to be cherished for a lifetime and remember...SEIZE THE DAY!!!