Over the past six years, Davidsonville photographer Linda McCarthy has raised more than $80,000 for Anne Arundel Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) through proceeds raised from her Little Angel’s Calendar.
Despite her fundraising success through her photography company Visual Concepts, McCarthy says it’s the moms of NICU babies that leave her most inspired.
“I love the moms who come in and tell me their NICU stories—some of them have had babies that didn’t survive,” McCarthy said. “They give me strength and I am humbled by all of them.”
McCarthy runs Visual Concepts out of her home in Davidsonville. The company is a boutique studio that specializes in portraits—particularly of babies.
For the last six years, McCarthy has taken time from her busy schedule to create a calendar that raises money for the NICU. The calendar features photos of local babies and is part of a contest to determine the cutest baby.
The project starts by recruiting mothers who want their babies featured in the calendar. McCarthy gathers as many babies as she can and shoots portraits of them wearing angel wings. Then all of the photos go online, and for $1 a vote, the public picks the 13 babies featured in the calendar—one for each month plus the cover.
One would think McCarthy has a special connection to the NICU to spend this much time and energy fundraising for it, but she doesn’t. She said the idea just came to her when she was flipping through AAMC’s newsletter.
“It was really funny because I didn’t know when I started the project who was going to be the recipients,” she said. “I didn’t know anybody who had a baby in NICU—I had no idea. But I believe if you have faith something will come to you and you will know when it is right. I saw the article in the newsletter and thought, ‘That’s it.’”
Each mom who has her baby photographed writes a $100 tax-deductible check to the hospital—in lieu of a session fee. After the photos are posted online it is up to them to make sure their baby receives enough votes to be included in the calendar.
Any baby up to 5-years-old can enter to be in the calendar, and they do not have to be a NICU baby although many are, McCarthy said. She said moms of NICU babies want to be included, not to have their baby’s photo taken, but because they want to give back to the hospital.
While the final project is a joy to look at, McCarthy said it’s the photo shoots that are the most enjoyable for her, especially when she hears the stories of NICU moms.
“They are incredibly strong and I have never felt that they feel sorry for themselves,” McCarthy said. “The love and the support that they give the child has me in tears because I am so humbled by the experience of being with people like that. It’s remarkable.”
Mom’s interested in having their babies photographed for the calendar should contact Linda McCarthy by phone, 410-626-7474 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photography sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 7, 9, 14, and 16. The calendar will be released in June or July.