Allison Gray. Adventurous, an avid runner and Hash House Harrier, a dog lover, as good natured as they get, and super freakin' talented. I worked with Allison for the first time in 2017. When we met to get acquainted and talk about our approaching session, she humbly and simply told me that she was an artist. Weeks later, after that session, we went out for lunch and I got to know a bit more about her and what exactly she creates. "I paint pictures of peoples' pets," she told me. She started doing it as a side gig and opened an Etsy shop, but she hadn't anticipated just how much of a demand there would be for the kind of art she was making. Business boomed and her artwork became her full time gig. For an artist that's a huge accomplishment, and totally one she deserves.

This time around I approached Allison in hopes that she would let me come and observe/photograph her process as she works. This is not typically the kind of sessions I photograph, but that was the whole point. Sometimes, as an artist, you find the kind of inspiration you're craving by looking outside of the box. I typically do photograph people more than anything else, but usually my focus is on relationships between people. Relationships between parents and their children, among siblings, and womens' relationships with themselves and their bodies. I often find inspiration not by looking at photography magazines, but instead by looking at Vogue, magazines like Parenting, or even just watching movies. One of my best friends, Jamie Bannon of www.JamieBannon.com, is also a fellow photographer and we take our babes on walks together often. On our walks we do a lot of talking about photography and where our businesses are headed. Jamie and I are both very much inspired by real life and real events, much less by posed and completely controlled portrait sessions, and we talk about our love for documentary style sessions often. I feel like our walks are filled with very productive rants about what we love and hate about running a photography business and what is expected/demanded of us as photographers. I always come away from our walks with a reinforced appreciation for being able to run my own business; for getting to decide exactly what projects are worth time away from my family, and for only getting to do work that inspires me. Blogging is not one of those things that I would say I enjoy spending time on. I don't hate it, but not every session I photograph makes me want to run to the computer and sit there for hours writing about it. I did come to notice though that when I pick up extra projects for myself, those tend to be the ones that excite me the most and end up on my blog. I mostly pick these projects up only when time allows for it or if I feel like my photography could help heal someone going through a hardship. I decided that, regardless, I need to make more time for photography that inspires me and maybe even others. So now I will be picking one up once a month and you'll likely be reading all about each one on here.

This project in particular is my first monthly extracurricular and one that I really, really enjoyed photographing. Allison is an insanely talented artist and a pleasure to spend time with. Her dog Banjo, an adorable boxer who keeps her company around the clock, was the cherry on top!

You can find out a bit more about Allison here.
You can purchase her artwork on Etsy at GoGrayArtwork and on her website at www.gograyartwork.com 
Her artwork has been swooped up by Wayfair and Homegoods too!
Here are a few images from our session. Enjoy!

​About 3 years ago I had the honor of meeting and getting to know Justine Timbro (then, Spada.) She was about to be married to the love of her life, Jordan, and was as excited as could be to embark on their new journey together. About a year and a half ago, they welcomed their first baby girl Carmelina into their lives. Her pregnancy went smoothly, no hiccups, and their baby girl was and still is as perfect as ​baby girls get. Justine decided to open up a home daycare named Mama Bear Day Care and spend day in and day out with ​Carmelina. Twenty months later on April 25, 2018 they welcomed their second child, Lucas Leonard Timbro. After yet another smooth pregnancy they were incredibly excited to meet their little boy!

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​Just a few hours into his ​life I saw the Instagram post that he was here. I was so excited to see his adorable little picture pop up on my screen! This family is so incredibly sweet and although I hadn't yet met her husband or their baby girl I always enjoy seeing the photos Justine posts. Such a happy, beautiful family of faith. As I began to read the caption though I realized that ​Lucas and his family were in need of a really big real life miracle. Little Lucas was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck ​twice and ​some pretty big and scary things were happening inside his little body. His parents nor the doctors had ​any idea about any of it until now.

More...

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​This little guy was in need of lots of TLC, nevermind medical care. Justine and Jordan were completely shocked and incredibly scared. The relied on their faith and the doctors Hartford Hospital  to carry them through the first hours of Lucas' life. Then, another post.

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​Little Lucas was having his first of possibly many surgeries at one day old​; a tap would be put into his head so ​the doctors could start relieving the fluid ​from his brain.  The doctors diagnosed Lucas with "Hypernatremia” - which simply means that he has a high concentration of sodium levels in his blood. The doctors believe that this correlates with the pressure his pituitary gland was under when his brain had fluid built up, pre-shunt. Reading all of this, as a mother of two living babies and two angel babies, my heart broke for Justine and Jordan. I knew they were strong-- maybe among the strongest thanks to their faith-- but the fear and helplessness that a parent feels when their baby is in pain is unbearable and unimaginable​. Was he going to be okay?  What is baby Lucas going to have to endure throughout this journey? Would he be affected just for now, or for the rest of his life? The next day ​brought ​two more posts.

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​You can literally feel the hope and faith in his father's words. He and Justine were rooting for their baby boy with everything in the​m; LT would go home with them and he would thrive. They felt nothing but hope and thanks for the doctors and nurses surrounding them, helping them and Lucas through this ​tribulation. They thanked each one, and eachother, personally and publicly. ​Love and gratitude at its finest.

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I reached out to Justine the day after I saw her first post about Lucas. I wanted nothing more than to give her a huge, huge hug and console her. No words are the right words when the fate of a woman's child is at stake. The only thing I could possibly offer her that could make a difference, I felt, was photography. I offered to come to the hospital; I felt that sooner would be better ​just in case. ​But she had so much faith that he would be home soon so we decided that we would hold off until then. Two days shy of a month old little Lucas ​was discharged! He was finally going home.

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​Justine messaged me that same day to tell me the amazing news! We set a date for our session the next week ​and I was so excited to finally meet the rest of her family. When I arrived at their house the day of the session everyone was in great spirits, baby Lucas was peacefully napping ​on Jordan, and Jordan's mom was hanging with little Carmelina. There was such a lovely sense of peace and happiness in their home and we all had a great time just hanging out, talking, and photographing. ​Here are some of my favorites from our day together.

Lucas is home but the Timbro Family still has a long road of doctors visits and discoveries ahead of them. If you'd like to follow the Baby Lucas and the Timbro Family's progress, Jordan is on Instagram @Jordan_Timbro and Justine is @Justine_Timbro. They've created an account for baby Lucas and he is @Lucas_Timbro. #LTstrong is their hashtag.

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So this past Saturday was awesome. Just awesome.

Backstory: A couple months back, while attending the CTPPA annual Converge convention, I was so inspired by the speaker I was watching (Marie of www.fearlessandframed.com) that I decided to do an impromptu giveaway on Instagram for a Day in the Life Session. There are a few great things about giveaways: 1. You get to photograph in the way that you love to. Your rules, your style, your favorite kind of magic. 2. You get to make someone's day BIG TIME by giving them photographs they'll love forever and ever and ever. 3. If you're lucky, the winning family will allow you to share the photographs with the world and hopefully convince every mother and her partner that they, too, need their family to be photographed in this fashion. I think this giveaway session nailed those bullets dead on and I'm so in love with that.

So the winner of the giveaway was actually a high school friend named Heather. I explained to her that what I wanted to do was a Day in the Life documentary session with her family. I pointed her to a previous blog post of mine which would lay out all of the details, and just like that she was game! She got her family on board and this past Saturday was the big day.

I can't even put into words how nice and refreshing it is to spend time with such a nice family like Heather's out in their yard on a beautiful, sunny, 75 degree day. Her husband Matt is also from Southington and is just a few years older than us. The first time we worked together was in the studio a little over 4 years ago when their oldest daughter Cameron was just a newborn. Heather and Matt now have three beautiful, spunky, sweet children together and live near Roger's Orchards in the back side of Southington. When I arrived at their house, Matt was just getting home in his truck and Heather was getting the older two kiddos together to go out back with some bubbles. Their dog Bear met me at the front door along with their middle babe Matthew. I could tell Matthew was a little skeptical at first, but he quickly warmed up to me. Cameron and Matthew got their shoes on and ran out to the back patio where we spent a while blowing bubbles & playing on the swing set. Soon after, Dad came out to join us with baby Benjamin, who just woke up from a nap and was beaming with smiles! We caught up on old times, laughed about how much life has changed since starting families, and shared stories of common experiences as parents. When lunchtime hit, Matt threw some kielbasa on the grates of a great big stone fireplace he helped to build, and the family ate outside on the patio. I have to say, their kids are some of the better eaters I've seen! And any parent knows what a struggle mealtime can be, especially parents of  three young children. (#toddlersknowbest.) For the Kowals, though, it was a breeze and a pleasure. After lunchtime, everyone headed inside for a bit of jumping on the bed, followed by books and pre-naptime snuggles.

It’s incredibly enjoyable to be able to just hang out with a family and take pictures with them without the pressures of smiling, posing, and getting everyone to do the same thing at the same time. As a photographer you’re left open to capturing the magic that can only be seen in the details. The moments that, as parents, mean so much to us now and will especially in the future when our babies are grown and off to college. The secret expressions that happen when they’re not paying attention, the silliness when they catch you catching them, and even the shy bits they give us are all part of the beautiful innocence of childhood. And as the parent, when you’re busy lifting your children up into trees and fixing their bubbles, you don’t have enough hands to carry a camera and catch these moments yourself. If only you could just freeze time or press rewind. Well, that’s where I come in. I was there to catch these moments for Heather and Matt so they could leave the camera behind and focus on enjoying their little ones.

Thank you Heather & Matt for participating in the giveaway and letting me be a part of a day in your lives together. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed taking them. Xo!

Enjoy the show & don't forget to turn the volume up!

To see more work, visit www.TinaShoots.com

and follow my instagram @tina_shoots.

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Wow, so my last post was over 3 months ago. I told myself that with this blog, this time around, I'd do better at actually putting something up consistently and I'm totally slacking... However I do have a few solid reasons. So much has gone down over the summer. Since June 1...

I think Dave and I both finally came to terms with expecting twin girls. At first we were super shocked and, well, pretty terrified thinking about having two newborns at the same time with a toddler at home. This also meant we needed bigger cars to fit three carseats, we should probably find that house in a quiet neighborhood before their arrival, and also that we were likely going to be on one income for a while so I could tend to not one, not two, but three under three.  Then... the excitement set in! We were having twin girls and wow, our lives were about to get a whole lot more interesting and my heart just began to grow on its own. Then, we found out some iffy/scary news. We found out our (then) 18 week twinnies were being affected by TTTS in utero and that we were going to need treatment. Because without treatment, the likelihood of neither making it was close to 100%, and with it they both had a 65% chance of making it and an 85% chance at least one would survive. We had to take multiple trips down to Philadelphia Children’s Hospital for treatment. The morning after laser ablation surgery left us with only one of their hearts beating. Our "donor" baby passed away due to insufficient nutrition from the placenta; whatever she was getting prior to the surgery was likely coming as support from her connection to the other baby but with the surgery that connection was cut off. We found out that if she passed away before the surgery, our surviving baby would likely have brain damage because of the toxins passed through the vessels so it was a good thing the connection was severed. We also found out that our surviving baby's heart was under stress and that she had a couple leaky valves and extra fluid around her heart, which has since resolved itself and is no longer an issue. This was all was followed by 3.5 weeks of strict bedrest and “light activity” until birth. Our survivor twin is now doing great, kickin’ away, and we hope she is able to keep cookin’ til 38-40 weeks! Lessons I learned from this experience: Loss is never easy, but it’s doable.... Don’t EVER tell someone who is grieving that “everything happens for a reason” because that is just about the last thing she wants to hear. You may have also just become the last person she wants to talk to.... Also, I learned that you have to be grateful every damn day for what you do have and don’t let anything get in the way of that.

Since then, we’ve also had a second litter of kittens bless our household… SURPRISE! Our stray Snickers went right back at it, and call us distracted, but we were pretty much blindsided by it. We were all like, "Oh Snickers, you're getting pretty round..." "Oh, Snickers why are you so lazy these days??" "Snix, you better not be preggo again"... Sure enough, she rolled over one day to let me feel her belly and that's when I realized there absolutely were more kittens coming and soon. That was the day before she had them. 5 more beautiful kittens, 8 more weeks of having 7 cats (...and a dog, and a toddler, and a huge pregnant belly), and within this time about 3 solid weeks of Dave being the only one able to scoop 7 cats’ worth of litter. Silver lining? They are cute as can be, they all have homes lined up, and (!!) two pairs will be going home together!! That makes me super happy <3

More [super exciting] news… I FINALLY opened my Etsy shop! I honestly never thought that would be one of my things. Since the news of twins started to sink in, though, I’ve had to really think about how my photography business needed to evolve to allow for income through the first hectic months/years of their lives. Opening an Etsy Shop to sell my photographs was one of my ideas, and to be honest it was very daunting to me. I love to shoot; I really don’t love the act of selling my work. I know the value of my sessions = the value I put on spending time with my family, so that comes easily to me (adding in materials, my equipment value, insurance, post-processing, and all that other photography jazz.) But the idea of working on and selling my work to be hung in the homes of others is a bit scary for me! It’s like I’m entering into a different realm of art. Over the last couple years though I pledged to myself that I would print and hang more of my work throughout my home, and boy have I gotten good at that (sorry to Dave, who has been put to work hanging everything.) Since then I’ve had family & friends ask me if I ever sell my work and said they’d totally purchase it if I did! Also, as a donation, I printed, matted and framed some pieces for a benefit held by CTPPA to raise money for domestic violence victims, and my piece from the Outer Banks sold within the first hour! At these points I really had no intention of selling my photographs, but those bits of encouragement definitely help the Etsy idea come to fruition. And I have to say, I’m diggin the feeling of having them out there.

A few of my favorites are below! Only 8 of each image will be released for sale, so not everybody and their neighbor can have the same print on their wall. Once that image has been selected by 8 buyers, it will be retired and replaced with a new piece of work. Each will be printed on Fine Art paper as 12x18 prints, ready for mounting and framing. Some of them have been worked over in Photoshop in a "waterdrop/watercolor-esque" manner. I chose these images based on it's what I personally would hang in my own home, so the collection is pretty personal to me. Some of them I've added my favorite quotes to as options for customization. If you're interested in any of these and have questions regarding customization, please just ask!

So among all of these things, an always active Sam, and doing some big-time nesting (yes, it’s definitely a thing, and it's on) I’m really just trying to juggle my actively creative mind with “taking it easy” until she's here. My official due date is Nov 13, though a very likely side effect of the surgery is preterm delivery. While sticking with these doctors’ orders of light activity has been one of the most difficult challenges mentally, I've physically been carrying a 38wk size belly since 16wks (moms, I know you're feeling for me) so I just keep reminding myself that I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got. And after one pregnancy loss last year and then losing one of the twins 10 weeks ago, I’ve finally started allowing myself to get excited for this baby girl’s arrival. I think I’ve finally stopped guarding my heart from the possibility of completely losing this pregnancy, and celebration mode has begun! I’ve got an amazing husband, little crazy lovable Sam, and the most supportive family and friends a girl can ask for. I absolutely LOVE what I do, I'll never stop shooting, and even though I won't be able to take sessions for a bit, the camera will never be far from my hand for long.

Wish me luck! -T

The anticipation of this little guy's arrival was so exciting and so painful. Could he just be here already? Also, it's so amazing when your best friends join the parent club and they can finally see what a joy it is to have a little snuggle bug of their own. Not only that, but now they know why we've turned from "Where we going out tonight?!" friends into crazy sleep-deprived sympathizers. Now, they too, will have been transformed. (Muwahahah) JK  ...no, but really.

Congratulations to our best friends on their beautiful baby Jae. He's such a love!

Moving Slideshows in the photographer world are called "Fusion" shows. Short video clips are added into the slideshow to really add that extra element of connectivity and emotion. Don't get me wrong, the images alone are enough to melt you ...but they just don't say it all. When you see those little toes wiggle and that finger grasp onto your husband's hand, you'll get warm and fuzzy all over remembering how quickly your main squeeze became the best Dad ever. So much happens when your baby is growing up and it happens all too quickly. I'm speaking from experience as my own baby is about to be 2 years old. When he's approaching that milestone, it's almost hard to remember what he was like right after he came home from the hospital. A show like this will help you remember those tiny moments for a lifetime.

Questions or thoughts about Moving Slideshows? Don't hesitate to comment below or contact me!