Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracey Westgate.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Tracey. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As a child, I remember following my mom around the rocky coast of Maine with my 110 camera, hoping to capture an artistic moment of rocks, a lighthouse, or some snails. Growing up, I was always the friend who took loads of photos. While I was always interested in photography, it began to really take off when I became a mother in 2010. I bought my first DSLR camera, and soon friends were asking me to take photos of their families too. Professionally, I have a degree in Social Work and Spanish. I’ve worked in non-profit management for over 10 years; always through youth-serving organizations, even teaching self-defense for multiple years. After taking some time off to be with my daughter, I worked for a consultancy that focused on high-growth female entrepreneurs. It was a distinctive experience for me and I learned so much about growing my own business while working there. In 2015, I decided to focus solely on my photography business.
It has been humbling to reflect on my journey so far and see that all the steps along the way have prepared me to be the artist and business owner that I am today. Collectively these experiences have taught me so much; they continue to inspire and permeate my path forward.
Grit and Grace. I care passionately about women, and have no words to adequately capture the passion I have for gender issues. Two years ago, I met Kristine Ellis at my daughter’s book club. Being a local mom and firefighter, she talked with the girls about her work and dressed in her full gear – including ventilator. I was so inspired seeing young girls (and most of the moms!) captivated by what this work means for Kristine. I had never really asked people I didn’t know if I could photograph them, but that day I asked Kristine if I could do some portraits of her, not yet knowing why. From there, an idea was born. I started asking other women if I could photograph them and their professions and hobbies. Grit & Grace currently features 22 women who live in Hamilton-Wenham, or are deeply rooted in the community. Inspired by “Humans of New York” by Brandon Stanton, I started interviewing the women, with the goal of telling their stories of strength, perseverance, determination, and the power of the human spirit.
Through this process, I have been reminded of the power of creating space and holding space for people to tell their stories – and even to identify what their stories are. There have been so many truly transformative moments along the way. For instance, at some point, I started calling myself an artist. By claiming this, my work got better and better. When I am making art, I feel alive. One of the Grit & Grace women told me that through the interview process, and defining her story, she realized that her life has been a “pretty good journey after all.” Another told me that by viewing the photos of herself, she was able to truly view herself as a yoga instructor. Viewers of the show have been inspired by the women’s vulnerability, several stating that they felt connection to the stories in the show, and now have greater insight into their own stories. This is the power of the art. I truly believe it is God’s work, and God’s love shining through me.
The show was up for May and June at the Hamilton-Wenham Library, and will be exhibited next at the Children’s Piazza in Peabody in the fall.
Has it been a smooth road?
The biggest struggle for me so far was deciding to go “all in” with my business. Given the rise in digital photography, I was hesitant to start a photography business. During a time of major self-doubt, I was worried that the market for photographers in our area was oversaturated. I told my sister-in-law, Inis, “Maybe I should just keep this as a hobby and put the business idea to bed.” She told me, “No one sees the world as you do. That will set you apart from other photographers. If this is what you love to do, you need to do it.” She strongly encouraged me to stick with it. Since I have totally committed to photography as my profession, I have seen it grow each year.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Tracey Westgate Photography provides affordable family photography for Boston’s North Shore. I specialize in family photography including maternity, birth, newborn, and beyond. I love capturing authentic moments for people, and am completely humbled to be able to do this work for a living.
My social work background brings depth to my work. I make people feel comfortable. I am authentic with people, which encourages people to be authentic with me. I tend to make genuine connections with people pretty quickly.
I’m starting to take on birth photography clients which has been a long-term goal of mine. Birth work feels like such a natural step for me, as I love telling women’s stories of vulnerability and strength.
What were you like growing up? Personality wise, interest wise, etc.
I grew up in a rural town in New Hampshire, where everyone knew everyone. I was the youngest child of 3 by far, my siblings 8 and 10 years older than me. I have traits of a youngest and an only child, which are an interesting mix- playful and carefree, yet responsible and driven.
Art was all around me. My mom was producing beautiful film photography- mainly landscapes and nature. My dad was a high school art teacher, as well as a freelance artist. When putting together an art show, it was never just students’ art hanging in the hallways – it was a complete experience. Most projects were true collaborations with my mom, and they did everything at 110%. They always dreamed big when it came to projects, even once converting the school cafeteria into an airplane for a joint art show/band concert. This idea of “go big or go home” has always been a part of me. My parents continue to be my biggest cheerleaders.
When I was young, I drew a stick figure, drawing at a drafting table. Above the drawing, I wrote, “When I grow up, I want to be an artist.” I loved all things art, and have many happy memories of creating art in my dad’s studio. Making art, walking in the woods, spending time with family, and playing with our dogs were my favorite things to do.
- Family photography packages start at $250. Seasonal mini sessions are available.
- Website: www.traceywestgate.com
- Phone: 978-590-6728
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/traceywestgate
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/traceywestgatephotography/
Tracey Westgate Photography