Inspirations – Using Photography to Celebrate Strength, Beauty and Grace

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Inspirations | 7 Comments

So much of photography today seems selfish. We make photos for ourself, about our interests and share them on social media hoping everyone will like them. Me, me me and me some more. The good news is that as we evolve in photography we start looking for something more, some way to give back to others. Photography becomes so much more meaningful when we can help others. We wanted to share with you the inspiration of Bella Forza Photography started by our friend Lori Maloney. Read below what Lori has to say about why she started her own ‘photography that gives’ business.

Fall 1974 - Mom, Lisa & Me

Fall 1974 – Mom, Lisa & Me

Sometimes we need to take our time to contemplate, dream, and deliberate on things…sometimes we need to just take a leap of faith.  In March 2013, after nearly three years of conscious deliberation and many more years of subconscious pondering, I took that proverbial leap and launched Bella Forza Portraits.

We lost my mom to Breast Cancer in the fall of 1997.  Sadly we don’t have any portraits of her that truly showcase her beauty, her fortitude, or her courage; nor do we have any that she loved.  This experience is the foundation of my work with Bella Forza.  I believe I have something meaningful to offer: an empathy borne of first hand knowledge together with the ability to provide a tangible piece of evidence conveying the beauty that resides within.

Yousuf Karsh, an acclaimed portraitist whose work I greatly admire, said, “There is a brief moment when all there is in a (wo)man’s mind and soul and spirit is reflected through his eyes, hands, and attitude.  This is the moment to record.”  I am not comparing myself to the brilliant Karsh, simply communicating my desire to be just as good.  My clients will feel both my absolute commitment to creating a beautiful portrait of and for them and also my compassion for their journey.

It is important for me to say to you that this is not a ‘pet project’ wherein women who are vulnerable will need to ‘fit my aesthetic’; rather, this is ALL about my clients and THEIR journeys.  If a woman is newly diagnosed with, say, Cancer, she may wish to have a beautiful portrait before her treatments begin and she potentially loses her hair, her breasts, or whatever is necessary to preserve her life; perhaps a woman is mid treatment and is recognizing her inner strength and wishes to have a portrait conveying that part of her journey; maybe a woman has stood her ground against the beast, has won, and wishes to celebrate HOPE; or, maybe, a woman is facing the very real risk that her loved one will be taken too soon and she wants photos together with them…all of these women, and their loved ones, are welcome in my studio and each will be met with my open heart and my continually improving skills.

Jackie - ©Bella Forza Portraits

Jackie – ©Bella Forza Portraits

About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and a good guitar jam.


  1. Lori Maloney
    April 8, 2014

    So touched to be featured here…THANK YOU, Sam & Darwin!

    It appears the last line got cut short and so here it is for anyone interested…

    “…all of these women, and their loved ones, are welcome in my studio and each will be met with my open heart and my continually improving skills.”

    This is an excerpt from the blog post I wrote launching Bella Forza portraits, with some edits for brevity. :)


  2. Jane Chesebrough
    April 8, 2014

    Great work, Lori. Either Darwin and Sam have featured you before,or I have seen your blog. An acquaintance of mine worked with a doctor at the clinic and took photos of clients. It helps immensely to lift people up and focus on their strength and beauty.

    • Lori Maloney
      April 8, 2014

      Thanks, Jane…I love that the doctor you wrote of does that – what a forward thinker! I read an article just today about the benefits of acknowledging and supporting the person as opposed to only treating the disease…it can (and I wholly believe DOES) make the difference.

  3. Nikki
    April 8, 2014

    How fabulous to see someone doing this with such care and compassion. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, I immediately scheduled a photo session to remember my waist length hair. I even had hubby take some private photos of the breast I was about to lose. I documented my whole journey through lots of selfies as I lost my hair and such. I think what you are doing is a wonderful thing for those that have to go through this awful journey.

    • Lori Maloney
      April 8, 2014

      Nikki, thank you so much for the generous words and for sharing your story! What an incredible amount of fortitude and foresight you had in documenting your journey…I can only imagine that it was cathartic for you and that now you have tangible record of the battle you waged and won! I’d like to send you a private message if I may…my email is, if you could be in touch with me we can chat! :)
      I so hope you are feeling great today…much strength to you.

  4. Debbie
    April 8, 2014

    Lori, I have told you before and I will say it again! You are an inspiration!!! I look up to you for many reasons, your compassion shows through and through! I only wish I had known you 10 years ago when the most beautiful young lady was taken from us. She was beautiful inside and out but at 16 never knew just how beautiful she was. I truly wish you could have has a chance to show her. Your work speaks volumes

    • Lori Maloney
      April 9, 2014

      Wow, Debbie, thank you! You made me teary eyed! I am hopeful that the message of Bella Forza will spread so that more women can have the experience.

      I don’t know that many think of portraiture as something that can be helpful during life’s toughest challenges but I know that the impact can be profound. I wrote a blog post on the notion that a portrait session might be a wonderful way to help a woman you love who is facing a diagnosis/treatment/victory…I remember us having a freezer full (bursting) of frozen food from loving friends and family because that seems to be the go-to way of helping and, really, there is often not much else one can do to help, aside from simply voicing their love and support. This is something that is for the woman herself, to buoy her, to strengthen her, to let her know that with or without hair her beauty shines through; this is an experience for her to use in a way that she finds comforting (a portrait before treatment, maybe one with her loved ones, maybe an image of her changed body that is proof of her strength in battle….).

      Too many women, facing illness or not, shy away from being in pictures and it’s a trend we must stop…our kids and their kids and their kids want to see us in pictures; our loved ones want record of our smile and the twinkle in our eyes after we are gone.

      Again, thank you for the support and encouragement about something so deeply important to me!
      xo Lori