Hi there! And welcome to my home on the Internet. Hopefully by now, you’ve checked out some of my work. I hope it’s evident how much I love taking pictures. But what might not be so obvious is what makes me unique.
I know big families. I am a wife of 23 years and a mom to six children — three girls and three boys. Learning how to wrangle that many children at one time is no easy feat! It’s an amazing, chaotic journey. Every week that goes by, I’ve learned something new about how to be successful at this – the most challenging and most rewarding job of all. Sometimes that means making a plan and getting all my ducks in a row. Sometimes it means adjusting on the fly. And, without a doubt, every single time it means not sweating the small stuff and celebrating the big stuff.
I’m also one of four children, each of us married with kids (some school-age, some grown and out of the nest). Although my parents and siblings still live in my native St. Louis, I chose to marry a man whose job would end up taking us all over the Midwest, moving every few years. I know what it’s like to have my family far away, and how rare the opportunities are for everyone to be gathered together at one time. Those times when we are able to connect with each other, in person, are my most treasured moments.
I understand that photographs are the visual cues for our memories. I had an interest in photography my whole life, but that interest renewed when my children were very young and I was creating scrapbooks for them. I knew in my heart that when I took these pictures, I wanted them to last forever. I already had a deep understanding that pictures were the ones that would hold all of my (and hopefully, my family’s) memories. After all, these were scrapbooks – not journals. Scrapbooks connect words with images, to make a memory more complete.
Using pictures as a way to preserve memories was an interest that grew into a passion. While I was learning my way around a DSLR, I found a way to take my love of preserving memories and marry it with an appreciation of art and my own creativity. I found and quickly admired the work of artists whom I’d never seen before. Photography has become a way for me to carve out a little bit of individuality in our hurried world.
I believe that printed photos are some of our most valuable possessions. Whether photos are hanging on walls, printed on album pages, or displayed inside a frame, they show the people around us what our priorities are. After we are gone, what do we want others to know about the things that really mattered to us? What will our possessions say about our lives? I want my legacy to reflect I was a loyal wife, a loving mother, a unique woman with her own interests, a friend like none other, and a committed community member. How can I leave that kind of legacy? Once I can no longer speak or act, the photos I’ve captured and shared will be the proof.
I am passionate about serving others. As part of my legacy, I want my children to see me actively demonstrate volunteerism and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world. I believe I have a gift and I consider it both a responsibility and a privilege to share that gift with organizations such as Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, The Gold Hope Project, and Coalition for Children, Youth, and Families as well as smaller local non-profit groups. I consider it a huge compliment if my contributions encourage and inspire others to give back in their own way, in their own communities. “The best way to not feel helpless is to get up and do something.” -Barack Obama
I’m proud to say that I’ve studied photography with all my heart and soul for years now. I am confident shooting in a wide variety of settings — outside or indoors, low light or bright light, formal or casual. I’m glad to be past the point of feeling nervous before a photo session; instead I get excited to work with my new clients and to capture images that I know they will love. But most importantly, I hope my clients will treasure their images and use them as reminders of a special memory. That might mean remembering a special person, or a special celebration, or a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Creating, saving, viewing, and sharing these images will be a part of their own legacy, one which is unique, and priceless, and deserves to never be forgotten.
All images and text © 2021 · Gretchen Willis Photography