The family cooking together in the kitchen.
Mom brushing her daughter’s hair or putting gel on her son’s stubborn cowlick.
Dad stealing a kiss from Mom as kids run around them.
These are all regular family moments – sometimes overlooked; often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily living.
But for Ginny Gillespie, a Chugiak-based photographer, these moments are magic and are the lifeblood of her business.
“I guess I would classify myself as a lifestyle photographer,” Gillespie told the Anchorage Press. “But that can mean so many different things so I guess I would also add the word ‘documentary’ to what I do. I document those real, touching family moments.”
Forget the studio setting with everyone dressed prim and proper and not a hair out of place.
Gillespie comes to you right in your home where your family is most comfortable and might let their hair down a bit for photos that capture smiles, yes, but also the essence of the activity in their daily lifestyle.
“I want to convey real life and document people in their worlds,” Gillespie explained. “It’s okay – in fact I prefer it – if there are toys all over the floor and maybe even dishes in the sink. Babies are best wearing just their diapers. That’s real life.”
She tells the folks she is photographing that they don’t have to look her in the eye. That goes a long way to helping anxious teens to relax, she said. It doesn’t take long, she said, before family members loosen up. Perhaps Dad tickled one of the kiddos or one of the kiddos snuggled in under Mom’s arm for a hug. Or somebody started a pillow fight in the living room. Soon, Gillespie said, the fact that a stranger is in their home taking pictures gives way to the family expressing who they are as Gillespie clicks away. And looking her – but more importantly – each other, in the eye.
Gillespie’s interest in photography developed with the birth of her first child in 2009.
“I had this little camera and just took pictures here and there of my daughter and began to see what kind of photos really got my emotional attention,” Gillespie said.
She remembered photos from her childhood – especially those of her father, a Vietnam War veteran, sitting in his office smoking a pipe.
“Looking at those photos took me back there. I could even smell the tobacco of his pipe,” Gillespie said. “I really wanted to create that experience for others.”
A few years later she upgraded to a more professional camera. She did some of the more standard holiday photography and then she launched the lifestyle approach.
She was pregnant with her second child, a boy, when she was introduced to a volunteer opportunity that is now near and dear to her heart.
Her friend was also pregnant at the time. But her pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. A daughter was lost. A photographer came to the hospital to photograph Gillespie’s friend with her deceased newborn.
“Those photos were and are so precious to my friend,” Gillespie said. “I was so touched by it that I wanted to do the same for others going through such a tragic time.”
She applied to the group, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” which is a national organization of professional photographers volunteering the time and skill to photograph precious moments at a time of great loss.
“It is an absolute honor to work with these families and to capture whatever they want,” Gillespie said. “It could be just the baby or the parents holding the baby or both. Whatever they want. That is what we do for them.”
Being accepted to photograph with the national charity gave Gillespie the affirmation that her work was on a professional par.
“I began to realize I could do this; I could do this for families and create a business based on photographing their real lives,” she said.
Her volunteer photography work continues outside the hospital setting. After the mop-up of last summer’s McKinley fires, Gillespie held a mini portrait session with the proceeds being given to an anonymous family that lost their entire home in the blaze. She also did a no-cost photo session with the family so they could have family photos to hang in their new home.
Reach Gillespie online at: www.ginnygillespiephotography.com.
Reach Amy Armstrong via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.