CoastLine: Mallory Cash on letting motherhood and curiosity lead from lawyer to editorial photographer
When Mallory Cash started her professional life as a lawyer, she never imagined she'd let that career go in just a few short years. When she had her first child, she wanted to document how her daughter made her feel, and photographing the baby was the best way to do that. She also never dreamed her desire to chronicle her child's development would lead to an impressive and growing portfolio of southeastern luminaries — or a journalistic collaboration with Pulitzer Grantee Melba Newsome.
In a 5th grade book she made about herself, Mallory Cash enshrined a picture of a gavel and wrote she would become a judge.
Her teacher said, “So you’re going to law school!”
10-year-old Mallory, thinking the teacher misunderstood, said, “No, I don’t want to be a lawyer. I want to be a judge.”
After her fifth-grade teacher explained the two jobs are essentially the same field and both involve law school, Mallory Cash understood her path was set.
After high school and then graduation from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, she left the Cape Fear region for the first time, for law school, as she had promised herself more than a decade earlier.
She practiced law in West Virginia for several years, returned to North Carolina, worked as a negotiator for a contract research organization in the pharmaceutical sector, breast-fed her first child in the company parking lot, which happened to be on the other side of town, and quit after a year.
Now a professional editorial and portrait photographer, her work has appeared in the Knoxville Museum of Art, The New York Times, a plethora of magazines – including Garden & Gun, Our State, and Salt, and her work has appeared in galleries in Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
She collaborates once a month with her husband, Wiley Cash, for an article on North Carolina creators published by a magazine group across the state; she photographs their subject and Wiley writes the piece.
Mallory Cash has also photographed the Avett Brothers, North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, and Author Jason Mott – among many other luminaries.
On this edition of CoastLine, we find out how motherhood and her burgeoning photography business affected her decisions about lawyering. We also explore how she made the transition from lawyer to photographer – professionally and psychologically. Because as we discover, it didn’t take long for her to develop in-demand status as an artist. But becoming comfortable with her new identity was a longer and far more complicated journey.
Mallory Cash, editorial and portrait photographer
Garden & Gun: https://gardenandgun.com/articles/john-t-edge-finds-seafood-bliss-in-wilmington-north-carolina/
The Bitter Southerner:
Collaboration with Melba Newsome, Pulitzer Grantee, examining the effects of climate change on people living along the Gullah Geechee Corridor:
Rising Seas Threaten the Gullah Geechee Culture. Here’s How They’re Fighting Back. | Pulitzer Center