This is not a "normal" family. This family is made of tough stuff and a lot of love.
This is the Moriarty family, lovingly known as Team Moriarty. Team Moriarty represents the qualities I most want to document when I photograph families. I'll explain.
My son began his life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and underwent surgery three hours after birth; he opened my eyes to how different life can be for families who look “normal” while standing in line at the grocery store. Because of him, my work as a family documentary photographer is now with families living with loss, medical hardship, and special needs. Most of the work I do is in a hospital, cemetery, or hospice; it is an honor to photograph these difficult and vulnerable moments. I am absolutely delighted when these families ask me to document their happy milestones as well.
Our son, who recently celebrated his third birthday and is healthy and home, was my first connection to Team Moriarty, a family not far from us with a little girl also born with an omphalocele. Onóra lived 103 days in the NICU before she came home; her story is here.
She's had an incredible journey and she looks like other little girls her age. As much as she is the same, her life is very different. Onóra regularly sees a pulmonary specialist, gastroenterologist and cardiologist for follow up care. Early this year she graduated from a feeding tube to eating orally; she continues to receive her daily medicine through her gastric port.
Families living with extreme adversity are resilient. The first time I photographed Team Moriarty, just before Onóra’s second birthday and about six months before her little sister Liádan arrived, I was struck for the first time with this realization. The Moriartys helped me see the qualities that drew me to this work, and for that I am grateful. This family is many shades of beautiful, and even more so since Liádan's arrival.
Here’s what I see in Team Moriarty.
They are adaptable. Every month, week, day, and minute are different in life with a serious medical condition, and each of those spaces in time may have different anticipated outcomes. They prepare for that. They adjust, learn, and grow. They do what they need to do for the best outcome, knowing that might change tomorrow.
They embrace their limitations and call upon their strengths. They support each other. They know themselves and they learn things that “normal” families might not have the opportunities to learn.
They show their love. They are thankful for each day they have together. They've seen the fragility of life and know it’s not enough to say that they love each other - they act on their love. There is no doubt their hearts are full for one another.
COMPANY: Shannon MacFarlane Photography