Our DC-area team would like to send a special Thank You to our photographer, Samantha Marshall of Sweet Memories Photography.
Sam not only donated her time and talent to take headshots of our entire cast, but she was also with us the day of the show to capture the magic and energy of our storytelling and we're so grateful. She also put together this beautiful video montage of the event, featuring music from Ruut, one of our cast members and opening musician.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a natural light photographer based in Potomac Falls, Virginia. I specialize in family portraits, and event/wedding photography.
I am a wife and mother and all around animal lover. I have a wonderful husband, and he and my children are who inspire me to follow my dreams. My love for photography began many years ago and has grown as I now help other families capture milestones and memories.
When I am not chasing down our four rescues, I am involved in freelance activities to help local small businesses, charities and animal shelters. I also chair a regional park photography expo each year that encourages new amateur photographers of all ages. In recent years many of my photos have been featured in print and online for community publications!
How has mental illness affected your life?
I have watched friends suffer throughout the years from what I now know as bipolar, anxiety and depression. Growing up with people who put on a smile to get through the days and couldn't verbally ask for help are what made me even more aware of the problems others face. I didn't understand fully what they were going through and many never talked about it. I would go about my own life wondering why certain friends never wanted to meet up for dinner or canceled on outings too many times. Education is really important and volunteering for groups like This Is My Brave allows me to realize there is help and witness successful people who live their lives bravely and to the fullest!
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I was introduced to the one of the creators of This Is My Brave when she was looking for a photographer for the DC show. Just in the time I've known her and met the cast, I've learned so much more than I ever imagined. It has helped me to be even more aware of what may or may not be going on in other people's lives.
Who or what inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
Bringing joy to others lifts me up. Every day I remind myself that if another person looks upset or stressed or angered they may be going through so much more than I could ever understand. Whether it is a triggered feeling or something they have been dealing with for years, I always try to see the best in everyone and know that people are allowed to have a "bad day". I have experienced anxiety, and even though it is not an ongoing issue, knowing what it is like is the important thing for me to be able to show grace to others. We never know what is going on in someone else's life... Just like those posters say, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always."