Growing up in a small town in northwest Wisconsin was wonderful. Life was filled with four vibrant seasons, lots of play time with friends and cherished memories from time spent with my grandparents and great-grandparents. I was raised by one helluva determined and resourceful single mom. She taught me to hold my head high with confidence no matter what life threw my way. I also learned that whatever I put my determination and focus on was achievable.
Little did I know, my whole world would unravel my junior year of high school. I don't even know when or why it started, but I knew what I was going through was not normal. It hung over my head like a black cloud. My thoughts that the world would be better off without me were overwhelming, even though I knew that wasn't true. I wanted to crawl into the deepest hole and die, but I believed God created me for a purpose. I needed to find out what that purpose was and I wasn't ready to give up and neither was He.
One night after many months, I ended up breaking down because I had been holding everything emotionally hostage. I needed to open up, become vulnerable and let someone in. Depression. It's a hard topic for most. Telling my story used to be extremely difficult. Then I accepted that it's my story and a part of who I am. I refuse to be ashamed of who I am.
As crazy as this sounds, experiencing dark seasons of life turned into a blessing. Dealing with depression opened my eyes to a new world. A world filled with light that brought me closer to God and people from all walks of life. Depression went from being a burden to being a gift that created a deeper level of connection, empathy and compassion for others. It taught me how to value myself and those around me.
I'm sure you're wondering what my journey has to do with photography. My journey has EVERYTHING to do with photography because photography is about relationships, connection, trust and being vulnerable. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable and connected, a shift happens and relationships deepen and become stronger. There's an intimacy that comes alive. This can be within yourself, between you and your partner or a closeness you feel in your family. You then feel empowered to be who you truly are. Your photographs often reveal, shape and transform how you view yourself and those around you.
Is there a time in your life when you did not feel connected, valued, loved or listened to? I assure you that on your journey with me, you will be valued. You will be loved. You will be listened too.
You truly start to live your fullest life at the edge of your comfort zone because what makes you uncomfortable is what makes you grow.
That guacamole shouldn't cost extra at Chipotle and pineapple is the best fresh fruit.
You should be who you want to be, do what you dream to do and pursue what makes you feel alive inside. Create what you want to create and let it be perfectly imperfect, because perfection doesn't exist and if you wait for perfection it'll never happen.
That dogs are WAY cooler than humans and should be to use my Southwest Companion Pass.
I believe you have to have a sense of humor to make it in this world.
Darcy always makes us feel very comfortable and natural in front of her camera. We always feel the final product is going to be one that we take pride in. There's never any doubt that our images will turn out amazing from our wedding to every family photo session.
-The Gray Family