A Mother's Love

I heard she was a badass woman,  I got to see she is a badass mama.

I watched Grace carry her sweet girl Clementine up a hill on her back, without a complaint,  just to be able to share a waterfall with her.   She took off her shoes,  so she could let the mud slip between her toes.  She asked her to be quiet so that they can hear nature.  She showed her how the natives caught water with their hands.  She gives her the confidence to explore without fear and the guidance to show her the way.  She is the kind of mother I aspire to be.

It’s my first year being a mother.  I have noticed in myself the strong urge to connect with other mothers, and to see how they interact with their little ones.  It warms my heart, and I learn so much from the experience.  I didn’t quite grasp the underlying bond I would have with other mothers, there is something so raw about the shared experience we have., whether this is acknowledged or not.  There is no denying the immense love we have for our children and the sacrifices we make everyday to ensure they feel secure and happy.

I also quickly noticed there are a lot of photos of my son his dad, but not very many with me.  If there are photos of us, I have a ponytail, no makeup, and look tired.  Like most mothers, I am the one with the camera, I want to remember every moment.  Inspired by my shoot with Grace and one I did with my friend Emily awhile back I decided to put together a special Mother’s Love package.  It is a 2 hour photoshoot with you and your kids doing something you love or at a location that is meaningful.  Maybe, you just want to get dressed up and feel great, I don't blame you one bit.  You deserve it.   Whatever you choose, I want to document it for you.

In honor of my very first Mother's Day, I am offering $100 off these special sessions the entire month of May. What a great last minute Mother's Day gift, huh?   Feel free to email me for more info nikita@nikitagross.com

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A Tribute to Love

When I think about my job and the impact it can have on people's lives, I wouldn't be able to do it if I didn't think it had meaning.  People trust me with their most intimate moments and feelings.  They trust me to document them and to be apart of their lives, even if it is only for one day.  I cherish my job, and there isn't a day that goes by that I am not grateful and don't take the responsibility I have been given seriously.  Sure I like to make beautiful  images, but I know that the real impact in my work is in the moments I am able to capture, the feelings I am able to portray, and the precious memories I am able to give every single person who steps in front of my camera.

I have shared Kristen and Sean's story on my blog when I photographed their engagement photos and wedding.  Sean was diagnosed with brain cancer within 2 months of getting engaged to Kristen.  They fought very hard together to keep the cancer from spreading or getting worse.  For a few months, they were very successful.  They bought a house together, had great careers, and enjoyed their fur baby family.

When I got the email from Kristen letting me know Sean wasn't doing well, that his cancer had worsened and that he was given a small window of time, my heart sank.  It wasn't that I was naive that this could happen, it was that I hoped so much that it wouldn't.  They are young and have fought so damn hard.  Kristen told me that Sean asked her if she had enough pictures of the two of them, how thoughtful of him.  Of course Kristen said no and asked if I would come over to snap some casual photos of them together at home.  I was more than happy to do this for them.

When I got to the house I didn't know what to expect.  I was around 7 months pregnant, and I did not want my emotions to get out of control.  It wasn't like that at all.  Sean looked great.  He needed help getting around, but he still had that beautiful, vibrant spirit I was able to see each time I photographed him.  We joked a lot and he smiled so much.  He looked at Kristen with those same loving eyes I had seen the first time I met him.  It was very touching to witness.

Sean passed away December 8, 2015 at his home surrounded by Kristen's love.  He fought so hard, it was very sad to see the news of his passing.  But, I know he is now at peace, and we have to find comfort in that.  I encourage each of you who is reading this blog to take time everyday to appreciate the love in your life, not because it could be gone tomorrow, but because it is here today.  Live in the moment, let your worries fade.  There is no better time than now to accept love, to give love, and to appreciate the life you are given.  We aren't ever sure how how much or how little time we have with the people who mean so much to us.  What you do with it is up to you.  The impact you make on other people's hearts is your legacy.  We need each other to heal and to grow.  My heart has been so heavy for Kristen.  Today, as she says her final goodbyes to her husband, I hope she is surrounded by peace and is able to someday heal from her loss.  She has handled every day with such strength.  She comforted her husband through sickness and health.  The vows she took were sincere.  I admire her greatly.

This is my favorite picture of Sean from that day.  Look at that spirit in his eyes.  He was a very warm, compassionate person. I am happy to have had the chance to get to know him.  love_0778Kristen took time off of work to comfort and take care of Sean.  She slept right beside him every night. love_0791Their sweet family.  love_0795love_0797Sean's best friend Scott was there to help Kristen take care of Sean. love_0799love_0803love_0807love_0809love_0814love_0815love_0817love_0818love_0823love_0824love_0825He absolutely adored her.  And she took such good care of him. love_0826love_0829love_0831love_0832

Warped Tour Cincinnati 2014

Photographing Warped Tour started as something to do while my little sister hung out with her friends.  It is fun to watch all of the bands and their fans.  I love seeing how impactful music is to everyone there.  This year I had the opportunity to  photograph the show for cincymusic.com.  I was given more access than previous years, but honestly it didn't really matter.  I enjoy shooting at the smaller stages from the crowd more than anything.  Here are some of the pictures I captured that day.

Bob and Louise 68 years of love

"To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part."

These are the vows many people take everyday.  You find the one person whose life and love fits with your own like a glove.  Entering a marriage, committing yourself to the person you want to spend your life with is a more than a declaration of love, it is a partnership.  You choose to live life as a team.  The beginning of every relationship is so full of excitement and passion.  As a wedding photographer, I am very lucky to be part of this special time in people's lives.  My hope for every couple that I photograph and every couple that I know, is that their love lasts a lifetime, that they can get past the stressful times, the times when they want to give up and remember the vows they took on their wedding day.

Bob is 91 and Louise is 84.   When I walked into their home it was very cozy and comfortable.  I was welcomed with big smiles.  They had 2 boards full of pictures that documented the many years of happiness they have lived together.  They were excited to have me over and to tell me their story and I couldn't have been more grateful to be there.

Louise's family was from Italy and Bob was an American.  They met through family members when they were young, but it wasn't until Bob returned from the Navy and saw Louise again that their relationship began.  They fell in love young.  Like many young couple's at the time, because of their age, they snuck over to Kentucky to elope since Ohio's laws were more strict.  Their life together gave the world  3 children,  who then  had children, who then had children, and now their clan is up to over 50 people strong.  Their love and a marriage is a solid foundation for their children and grandchildren to look up to.  I admire that so much.

The love and partnership these two share is beautiful.  It was nice seeing how they balance things out.  Bob is a retired firefighter.  He is a giver by nature.   He likes to stay busy and fix things, he sews, does yard work, he even cuts Louise's hair.   Bob adores his wife,  I could see it every time he looked at her with admiration.  He still surprises her with gifts, and tells her he loves her every night.  Louise is a strong woman with the most beautiful smile and skin.  She spent her life as a caretaker for her family, but also worked different jobs throughout the years.  I imagine Louise was a fun woman in her youth, someone I would like to hang out with.  She used to go to Vegas every year with her girlfriends.   In all of the pictures they showed me, she was laughing and having a good time.  Once the children were grown they spent a lot of time traveling together.  When I asked them what they liked to do for fun they told me how much they loved to dance and spend time on their boat the named the Bob-O-Lou.  Though they can't dance much anymore, they still play cards every Saturday night and try to get out whenever they can.  Louise has some back problems, but Bob is always right there to help her out.

I am a born romantic, I love love more that anything else in the world.  I was lucky to get this amazing opportunity to spend time with and photograph Bob and Louise, a couple who is celebrating 68 years of love and marriage.  I hope their story inspires you as much as it did me.  Their lust for life is what keeps them young and their love for each other is what keeps them strong.

 

Bob holding a picture of his wife on their boat, The Bob-O-Lou. Louise saw this bear she really liked on T.V.  Bob saw the bear while he was out one day and brought it home to surprise his wife.  What a sweetheart.  Guys,  take a lesson from Bob's book.  After 68 years, he still makes sure his wife knows he is thinking of her.  I always say, it's the little things. Here Bob is telling me the reason he doesn't wear a wedding ring because it got caught while he was working.  

Louise was telling me how Bob showers her in gifts.  Here she is showing me a necklace he got for her. I really liked this part of the day.  Like every couple, Bob and Louise went through some rocky times when they were young.  There was a time when Louise got her own apartment for a short time.  Bob was always over visiting, he couldn't stay away from his love and children,  so their split didn't last long.  In the picture below she was saying "we were like, what are we doing?  It was silly, we wanted to be together, we had our family to take care of. "   She made sure I knew it wasn't always roses,  but they stuck it out through the tough times and they couldn't be happier about the life they have had together.    I would like to thank to my friend, Suzanne for introducing me to her these two beautiful souls.  She is very lucky to call them her grandparents.

Michael

I passed by Michael one day while walking in Eden Park about 4 years ago.  He was in a lawn chair next to his truck carving walking sticks.  I had my camera with me so I asked to take his picture.  The picture sat on my hard drive forever as I got sidetracked with work.  One day I was cleaning out folders and found it.  I ordered  a print in hopes that one day I would be able to give it to him.  Last year, out of the blue I thought about Michael and his picture.  I was on my way to a shoot so I cruised by Michael's "spot" in the park and sure enough, he was there.  I stopped nervously to give him the photo.  I handed it to him, let him know when I took it and was on my way.  As I drove away I realized I hadn't even told him my name.  I felt so rude, so I drove back by to properly introduce myself.  When I walked up to his truck, which he was now sitting in, my heart melted.  On his lap he had the picture I had taken and another from over 30 years ago.  He was looking at both with a huge smile on his face.  He told me how much he loved his picture and that his children would love it too.  We talked for awhile and he showed me some of his sticks and how how makes them.  They are beautiful pieces of art.  I am so happy I went back and got to see his excitement and learn more about him, of course I bought one of his sticks.  Since I had my camera with me, I asked to take another picture.  Hopefully now that the weather is nice I can catch him again to give him a new print.

This was the one I took 4 years ago.

Here is Michael last year.I think Michael takes baths in the fountain of youth.  These are the two he was looking at when I pulled up. Michael making his sticks. 

Shooting for Cincymusic.com

Music was how I began my life as a photographer.  I was 19, my boyfriend was in a band and I needed my own creative outlet.  I enrolled myself  in photography school with no clue of  how to turn on a camera.  Once I figured out how to use it, I would bring my camera to their shows and rehearsal space and practice as much as I could.  Back then I was shooting film, and my very inexperienced so most of those images will stay buried in the archives.  Though it's fun to look back and see how much I have grown since then.  OMG I just added it up, I have had a camera in my hand for almost 17 years, wow! :)

  Bands are still one of my favorite things to photograph.  I love the energy that is exchanged at live shows.  Part of me feeds off of it.  I used to take my little sister to Warped Tour every year.  I would sneak my camera into the venue to grab some pictures of the bands and the crowd.  A lot of my friends are also in bands,  I try photograph them as much as I can.

 Recently I got the chance to shoot some shows for Cincymusic.com.  It has been an awesome opportunity.  I dont have to worry about getting my camera snatched from me or getting kicked out, and I have the best seat in the house.  It's also nice to be able to help promote the bands I photograph.

I put together a small collection of images I have shot this winter.  You can go to cincymusic.com to see the full galleries plus lots more.

I linked all of their facebook pages so you can dig a little deeper if you want.  The Tongue and Lips, Valley of the Sun, Honeyspiders, Electric Citizen, mr. Gnome, The Sword, Roky Erikson, Black Angels, Blackberry Smoke, American Sharks, In This Moment, Devour the Day

2014 Portrait Project

When I first started photography school over 15 years ago I would take my camera with me where ever I went.  Every birthday party, cookout, and visit to my mother's was documented in some way.  I would take long drives out Rt. 8 in Kentucky to take pictures.  I was learning and getting lots of practice,  I was discovering my passion for taking intimate pictures of the people and places around me.   Through the years as I turned photography into my main source of income and I started to notice something was slowly getting lost, my enthusiam for personal work was disappearing.  I stopped taking my camera to family functions, because my passion turned into work, in my head every picture I took would add more work to my growing heavy load.   I was warned by many people that this would happen, always claiming I wouldn't let it happen to me.  As I was looking back through my images from last year I noticed something was lacking, my life.  I had documented the lives of  my clients, but had no images of my own family and friends.  I document tidbits of my life everyday via my iPhone, so I'm not claiming to be a total slacker, but as much as I love that phone, my family and friends deserve nice professional images too.

On January 1 I decided to do what a lot of photographers do,  I started a daily photo project.  Since my favorite thing to photograph is people, I decided to start a portrait project.  At first,  I was only going to photograph people I know, then I decided to expand it to photographing strangers as well.  My goal is to shoot a new person everyday for as long as I can.  So far it has been an awesome experience.  My camera is with me a lot more, so I am not only photographing people, but also my surroundings, and the things I see.  I have been getting so much positive feedback, some people even telling me they cant wait to be part of the project.  It has been challenging at times, but I needed a good challenge.  I am excited to see where it takes me throughout the year.

 I posted some of the images on my Facebook page this month.  I think will also do a monthly post on my blog.

I want to thank everyone for participating so far.  Here are some of my images from January.          

The Happy Couple Duo

I met this talented couple, Katy and Zachary,  last month at the Northside Bridal Show at Mayday.  They were showcasing their event entertainment business, The Happy Couple Duo.  I contacted them about setting up a shoot because I was so intrigued with them and wanted to know more about them.

I asked Katy to tell me a little more about how they got started and what they do and this is what she had to say...

"Zachary and I are high school sweet hearts and we met each other while attending The Governors School For the Arts in Virginia, a performing arts high school similar to the one here in downtown Cincinnati. We fell in love in a famous castle in Germany while on an orchestra tour at the puny age of 17.  We've been playing music, collaborating, and creating together ever since, almost 12 years later.

We began playing weddings and private events as a quartet at 17 through our performing arts school connections. We enjoyed the energy at events and decided to grow it into a business. We love to perform together!

We offer string duo and trio, DJ, music arrangement, LED spot and up-lighting, as well as custom artistic light displays. We can arrange any song (pop, jazz, classical, etc.) for violin/viola duet or for violin/viola/bassoon trio. Our string duo and trio music library is the most eclectic and offers the most variety of any other group in the tri-state. Our DJ library is extensive and covers every genre from top 40s to under ground and indie. We are the only music services in the tri-state area to offer DJ, lighting, and Live instrumental music."

Katy does most of the arranging and is working on a book.  They also just got funded through Kickstarter and will have a full length album containing their own violin/viola/bassoon arrangements of popular songs by current and past artists.

Check out their Facebook page and website to see videos of them performing.

 I was drawn to them after hearing them play some of my favorite songs by Queen and Nirvana on violin/viola and because they kept me dancing all night once they started DJing.  Their music selection was diverse and fun.  I had an absolute blast on this shoot.  It wasn't hard to get a smile out of them and their chemistry together is wonderful.

Katie and Evie's day at the park

Katie is leaving for Afghanistan very soon.  She is going to be away from her daughter Evie for a few months.  We did this photo session just for fun and to give Katie beautiful images of her and Evie together to help her get through these next few months.  I love how sweet and sincere these photos are.

 Please take care of yourself Katie, we'll miss you and make sure to give Evie lots of love while you're away. xx 

Winterhymn

I have been using the down time I have before wedding season kicks in to get out of the house and have a little fun!  As you can tell from my previous posts, this fun involves taking pictures of really cool people. :)   I was introduced to this band, Winterhymn, by Jill, the  beautiful ice goddess from this shoot.  Her sister, Kate plays violin in the band.  As soon as she told me they were folk metal, I was dying to see what it was all about.  They are competing in the The Greater Cincinnati Band Challenge at the Mad Hatter so I went to the show last Sunday.  They are too much fun and full of energy.  I was super stoked when they did a Dio tribute at the end of their set.  They made it to the final round which is March 5th at the Mad Hatter, be sure to check it out! 

Go Reds!

My friend Jon got asked to throw the first pitch at last Saturday's Reds game.  He asked me to come along to take pictures for him.  What a cool experience.  I just love what a winning team does for the city.  It really comes alive, people are happy!

Keep it up Reds! :)

Oktoberfest MainStrasse Village

This past weekend was Oktoberfest, a little German festival that hits Covington every September.  Of course I went out exploring with my camera for a little photo journalism.  I strolled through the festival on Friday to take some night shots and again on Sunday afternoon before a shoot so I could indulge in some of the great food.  The theme of the festival is simple..drink more beer, eat more food, and buy more stuff. This is Lemongrass Potpourri from the Potpourri Patch.  Thanks to them my house smells lemony fresh.   This my favorite from Friday night, oh that light! :)Below is my favorite image from Sunday.  A perfect moment captured, YES! You can go here to see pictures from Maifest earlier this year.

Warped Tour

The past two years I have taken my little sister Olivia to the Vans Warped Tour for her birthday.  She leaves to go hang with her friends and I wander around with my camera all day.  It has become one of my favorite things to photograph.  I don't know many of the bands and that is ok, I am more interested in all of the crazy people running around.  The piercings, the mohawks, the tattoos,  I love all of it!

Rock and Roll!

Maifest

Last weekend was Maifest,  a little German festival held in the Main Strass village of Covington, KY every year.  Since I am living in that neighborhood now, I had to go out with my camera for a little while to check out the festivities.  Just me and my 50mm out on the streets. :) These are my favorite kind of pictures to take.  Real, raw, documentation.  The more contrast, blur, and grain the better for me.

Nurse Nina

My sister Nina graduated from one of Cincinnati's best nursing schools today, and I am so proud.   She not only graduated with a 3.2 GPA,  she did it while being a wonderful mother to one teenager and three little boys (one of which she had while on summer break) and while going through a major surgery.  She worked hard. With the support of her husband and family she did it,  Nina is a Nurse. :)

Watching my sister go through nursing school has given me an even deeper appreciation for the job nurses do, a job that far too often goes unnoticed.    Nurses take care of us from the moment we enter the world until we take our last breathe.  They are the caregivers of humanity.   It takes a heart of gold to do what they do. The next time you are at the hospital remember to thank them or at least give them a warm smile, I know they will appreciate it. :)

Congratulations to the entire Good Samaritan College of Nursing class of 2010!

A letter I got from my sister when I was nine after having my appendix removed.  It is so special to me.  She has always been so caring and selfless. She smiled like this the entire time.

Her nursing buddy, Judy. She did it!   Why am I the only one laughing?  Must have been my joke! ;)   With her husband, Kevin. Here she is with my oldest nephew, Austin.  Smiling in a picture with your mom can be so difficult as a teenager huh,  Austin. ;) The little boys are home with their uncle. Nina you are a beautiful mother, a caring wife, a loving daughter, and my best friend.  Your heart is so warm and strong.   I am proud of the positive impact you will have on so many lives as a nurse.

I love you Sis!

xoxo