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Our Tilley May

See the video of her first year set to my new favorite birthday song.

This sweet child. What a year to have a baby! I will never be able to say that 2020 was a total bust because it brought our family the greatest unexpected blessing in our little Tilley.

With three older children, the youngest, our boy at age 5, we thought we were finished having babies. We were prepared to move on to the next stage and season of life. I’m 36 and my previous pregnancy with our son was significantly more physically painful than my first two. I was 30 when he was born and I’m convinced that digit in the 10’s place is the reason it was more difficult. Finding out that we were pregnant again, 5 years later, was a shock. In all honesty, I was pretty terrified to tell my husband the day that I found out. Timing was not the greatest. We had recently moved back into our starter home after renovating it to enclose the loft to be a third bedroom. 6 months later we had an upstairs water leak that caused dirty water to rain through the kitchen ceiling below causing us to have to gut most of the downstairs and rebuild it. We were displaced from our house and living with our parents during the renovations. This was NOT the best time to find out we were having another baby.

But God knew better.

He knew exactly what our family needed before we did, before the pandemic, before distance learning and quarantine, before masks, He knew this would be the perfect time to push the reset button for our family. He is always welcome to insert His better plans into my mediocre plans. His are one million times better.

As a family, we were coming off of a difficult 5 years. My husband’s work a had been up and down in his field which led to all kinds of stress and emotional fallout. As a couple, we were exhausted.

On September 11, after weeks of feeling not quite myself, I grabbed a pregnancy test while at the grocery store. I quickly did it as soon as I got home, just before I needed to run back out the door to go pick up my son from preschool. I’ve never been more nervous in my life. Two pink lines. Even while typing this, I can feel the pounding in my chest as I remember that shocked and panicked feeling. Knowing full well what was to come and how it would end with a birth. I lifted my hands and in a shaking voice mouthed, “Your will be done.” I was fully shook.

I pulled it together, picked my son up from preschool, brought him to Grandma’s house for a nap and then immediately drove to my husband’s office. I’ve never been more scared in my life. I shouldn’t have been. It’s not like we hadn’t done this before. We knew we could handle it and what a joy it would be to do it all again, but still, it was shocking. Given the rocky previous few years, and our current living situation, I was scared.

In his office, I told him we were pregnant and he was thrilled.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19

Matilda “Tilley” May Gray
April 29, 2020
8lbs 15oz

Born via c-section at the peak of a worldwide pandemic and the depths of a national quarantine, there was so much fear. Her name means “strength in battle.” May she never need to rely on that name, but I sure am glad she’s clothed with it. The next week, Facebook shared a video about all the babies born in quarantine and it hit me hard. Ugly-cry kind of hard.

I will forever be in awe that we get to walk this path again. It is a blessing that I do not take for granted. My advice to any family on the fence about having another baby, if the Lord has it on your heart, and you are able…. do it. Adding Tilley to our family has been a joy through and through, and it’s increasingly hard to remember life before her.

I have to add that the feeling I’ve had for years, that we were missing someone, has not gone away with the addition of sweet Tilley. We lost a baby 12 years ago, and the grief from that has struck me at the strangest times since Tilley was born. I know that a mother never fully recovers from the heartache of losing a child, whether born or unborn, and our little one is deeply missed in the deepest place inside me. She was with us for only 10 weeks, a honeymoon baby, and then gone from us on September 11, 2007. Twelve years later, to the day, we found out about our surprise gift of another baby to come. On September 11, 2019 we found out about Tilley. God has redeemed that day in my heart, and although I will always feel the heaviness of grief, I have new reason to give thanks for the beauty He brought from what has been ashes. I can’t wait to meet that sweet baby someday.

“She says I shall now have one mouth the more to fill and two feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music, and drawing.

Well! This is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ’s name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!”

Elizabeth Prentiss, “Stepping Heavenward,” 1869
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    Addison, Newborn

    What a little doll baby she was! Dori and Andrew welcomed little Addison to the world in February and contacted me for newborn photos. I love the colors of this session. Dori did a beautiful job putting together Addison’s nursery.

    HELLO AND WELCOME!

    Sarah Gray is a Tallahassee Family Photographer and specializes in maternity, newborn at home, and baby photos in Tallahassee, Thomasville, Crawfordville, St. Marks, 30A, Gainesville, and all of North Florida and South Georgia.

    If you love these photos, and you are looking for a Tallahassee family photographer I would love to begin planning your session. With over 11 years of specializing in my favorite ages of little ones, maternity, newborn, and young families, I would love to photograph your family! To see more of my baby & family portfolio please click over here and get in touch if this is something you would love for your baby and family.

    I feel strongly that potential clients are able to see many full galleries of real sessions so you know exactly what to expect from your portraits as well! If you are interested in a custom portrait session with Sarah Gray Photography and would like more information, please click here to learn more about me and this experience.

    If you would like to reserve your baby or family photos on my calendar I would love for you to contact me here.

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      Motherhood Membership

      As a Tallahassee Maternity and Newborn photographer, it only makes sense that I would offer a membership to capture all of the highlights of this new chapter of life in the birth of your family. Through my intentional pairing of gentle guidance and natural moments, I am able to provide my clients refined and authentic memories to last a lifetime. This is for new and growing families. I am so excited to offer this membership. I’ve often been asked if I offer a discount when booking both a maternity and newborn session and this membership is the answer.

      Memberships come with incredible perks, including

      • 3 or 4 session membership options which can include maternity, newborn, milestone session (sitting, approximately 6 months), and baby’s first birthday
      • discounted session fees on future sessions after your membership concludes
      • complimentary birth announcements
      • priority booking
      • early booking access to holiday sessions
      • 25% discount on any products purchased from your sessions
      • complimentary 4×6″ box of your favorite photos at the end of your membership

      Booking a membership is best done during the second trimester to ensure availability.

      Maternity and newborn motherhood membership collage
      6 month milestone and first birthday motherhood membership collage

      This membership is a gift that you give your future self. As a mama of four, I can tell you with certainty that the time goes fast, and when it’s gone there is no going back. You won’t regret investing in the legacy of your family, I promise.

      Contact me to join the membership for yourself.


      HELLO AND WELCOME!

      Sarah Gray is a Tallahassee Family Photographer and specializes in maternity, newborn at home, and baby photos in Tallahassee, Thomasville, Crawfordville, St. Marks, 30A, Gainesville, and all of North Florida and South Georgia.

      If you love these photos, and you are looking for a Tallahassee family photographer I would love to begin planning your session. With over 11 years of specializing in my favorite ages of little ones, maternity, newborn, and young families, I would love to photograph your family! To see more of my baby & family portfolio please click over here and get in touch if this is something you would love for your baby and family.

      I feel strongly that potential clients are able to see many full galleries of real sessions so you know exactly what to expect from your portraits as well! If you are interested in a custom portrait session with Sarah Gray Photography and would like more information, please click here to learn more about me and this experience.

      If you would like to reserve your baby or family photos on my calendar I would love for you to contact me here.

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      7 Best Photoshoot Locations in Tallahassee

      Tallahassee is a beautiful city and is blessed with many different locations that make a great backdrop for your family photos. Ultimately there are two factors that will most influence the final look of your pictures: your outfits and location.

      If your session will be taking place in your home (newborn and some baby plan sessions), and you’re concerned about it being “photo ready,” I’ve written a post about that as well.

      Outfits

      I’ll be discussing outfit selections in another post, but in the meantime, I’ve created a pinterest board to give ideas and suggestions for family outfits. The outfits you select are the component that will most effects your final photos aesthetic. In general, I always advise picking mom’s outfit first. It should be something you are comfortable and confident in and is flattering to your figure.

      Locations

      My photography style focuses most on the connection between family members and relies less heavily on the location where we shoot, but having a beautiful space to create your photos is a part of the overall final result so it is an important factor. I’m including some photos here of locations around Tallahassee that are “can’t go wrong” spaces that will always work well. I am always open to your ideas or desired location as well. I love finding new spaces. I’m giving a thorough breakdown of these locations and things to consider when selecting them.

      Dorothy B. Oven Park

      • Location: Thomasville Road just south of I-10
      • Entry Fee: FREE
      • Notable:
        • Blooms in spring but photographs well all year round
        • Photographs best in the mornings
        • This is one of my favorite locations in town.
        • From November through the end of December, there are Christmas lights on display throughout the park. This is a lot of fun for kids to visit at night (they host an “elf night” each December), but is restrictive for photographs.
      • Best Session Types: A great location for baby sessions, maternity, and families with small children because there are a lot of vignettes within a small walking area.
      Dorothy B. Oven Park family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring in Dorothy B. Oven Park
      Dorothy B. Oven Park family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring in Dorothy B. Oven Park
      Dorothy B. Oven Park family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Winter in Dorothy B. Oven Park

      Maclay Gardens State Park

      • Location: Northeast Tallahassee, Maclay Road just north of I-10
      • Entry Fee: $6 per vehicle + $6/$3 (Adults/children) Gardens Entry during blooming months (January-April) + $20 photography fee (this is a new charge for using their park for professional photography). See entry fee information HERE.
      • Notable:
        • The gardens are in bloom from January through April.
        • This location is beautiful in the fall as well but is a much “warmer” backdrop with richer colors (see photos).
        • Photographs well during all times of day at varying locations.
        • A classic southern garden vibe. This is the location with the iconic brick walkway and moss covered trees.
        • If you want to photograph all that this beautiful park has to offer, just know that we’ll be walking a bit to get to those spots. It’s definitely worth the walk if your family is up for it, though it can be a lot for small children, or when carrying a baby.
      • Best Session Types: Maclay is a great location for all session types. I avoid this location in summer and early fall when the weather is hot and humid because you will get hot walking. I only suggest maternity sessions here if mom is early enough along that she can walk a good bit without feeling sore or hot.
      Maclay Gardens State Park family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring at Maclay Gardens State Park
      Maclay Gardens State Park family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Summer at Maclay Gardens State Park
      Maclay Gardens State Park family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring at Maclay Gardens State Park
      Maclay Gardens State Park family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Fall at Maclay Gardens State Park – the colors are a bit deeper and the client was wearing darker colors so the edit is a bit richer to match their outfits.

      Alford Park Greenway

      • Location: East Tallahassee, Bucklake area at the end of Pedrick Road
      • Entry Fee: FREE
      • Notable:
        • greenway field, tall grasses, treetop walking bridge about one mile down a walking trail.
        • Photographs beautifully in the fall and winter. Fall colors in general are richer and warmer.
        • Best for late afternoon and evening sessions but early morning sessions can be done here as well.
        • I would say this location changes the most throughout the year because of the green grasses. In the fall and winter it has much less green as seen in the photos below.
      • Best Session Types: Families, graduation, maternity, baby. I don’t suggest the treetop bridge hike for baby sessions or young families because of the risk of distraction and dirt along the walkway.
      Alford Park Greenway family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Summer afternoon at Alford Park Greenway – their clothing was vibrant and I edited it a bit brighter to match
      Alford Park Greenway family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring at Alford Park Greenway
      Alford Park Greenway family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Fall afternoon at Alford Park Greenway
      Alford Park Greenway family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Fall morning at Alford Park Greenway
      Alford Park Greenway family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Winter at Alford Park Greenway

      Goodwood Museum and Gardens

      • Location: Midtown Tallahassee on Miccosukee Road near Tallahassee Memorial Hospital
      • Entry Fee: Covered by me as a Goodwood membership photographer
      • Notable:
        • Goodwood is beautiful and photographs well all year round.
        • A great combination of building structures, green spaces, moss covered oak trees, and “Old Florida.” This location sums up Tallahassee.
      • Best Session Types: great location for baby sessions, families with small children, and maternity because there are a lot of vignettes within a small walking area. You cannot go wrong with this location. (Can you tell it’s a favorite of mine).
      Goodwood Museum and Gardens family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring late afternoon at Goodwood Museum and Gardens
      Goodwood Museum and Gardens family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Late Winter at Goodwood Museum and Gardens

      Chain of Parks

      • Location: Downtown Tallahassee on Park Avenue
      • Entry Fee: Parking meters along the street during certain hours. Plan to have $1 in quarters to feed the meter
      • Notable:
        • Small space, beautiful oak trees overhang the brick walkway.
        • This location also gives us access to downtown Tallahassee for a city vibe.
        • Because it is downtown, there is traffic and people in the surrounding areas that cannot always be avoided.
      • Best Session Types: great for quick sessions, baby plans, headshots, and maternity. If you have a toddler or young child who is a “runner,” this would not be a great location for you.
      • The Chain of Parks Art Festival happens once a year in the spring and can be a fun outing.
      Chain of Parks family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring baby plan session at the Chain of Parks in downtown Tallahassee
      Chain of Parks family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Fall baby plan session at the Chain of Parks in downtown Tallahassee

      Railroad Square Art Park

      • Location: off Gaines Street, near FSU and FAMU
      • Entry Fee: FREE
      • Notable:
        • Railroad Square is my old high school stomping grounds. This location has the new urban artsy vibe that people love if they want an in town, city, colorful location.
        • There are fewer people and cars here during the morning time, so I advise sessions take place at this location then.
      • Best Session Types: Great for all session types. It can be a lot of fun.
      Railroad Square Art Park family and baby  best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Fall morning family session in Railroad Square Art Park
      Railroad Square Art Park best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring afternoon in Railroad Square Art Park

      Tallahassee Nurseries

      • Location: Midtown Tallahassee, on Thomasville Road
      • Entry Fee: FREE though I advise adopting a beautiful plant to bring home. Founded in 1938, Tallahassee Nurseries is a longstanding Tallahassee business and they are gracious in allowing me to photograph there.
      • Notable:
        • Plants galore! I love it! Tallahassee Nurseries is a new favorite of mine.
        • Greenhouse, pots, small pond, benches and greenery abound.
        • Because it is a private business, we will need to yield to their shopping clients and be courteous to work around them. I haven’t ever had a problem doing so, as we will move quickly in each location on their property so as to not linger in one area too long.
        • If you have an active, curious toddler, I would not advise this location as they have merchandise outside that we will be working near.
      • Best Session Types: great for family sessions, couples, maternity, standing babies (9 or 12 month baby plan sessions).
      Tallahassee Nurseries family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Spring baby plan session at Tallahassee Nurseries
      Tallahassee Nurseries family and baby best photoshoot location in Tallahassee
      Winter baby plan session at Tallahassee Nurseries

      I’ll be updating this list as I discover new favorites as well. What favorite spots did I leave out? Is there a location you love that is worthy of including on this list? If so, I want to hear about it!

      Sarah Gray Photography is a natural, lifestyle photographer specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, motherhood, and family photography. To inquire about booking your next portrait session, please contact Sarah at sarah@sarahgray.net.

      Sarah provides lifestyle photography services in Tallahassee and along the Florida panhandle from St. Marks to Destin, as well as throughout south Georgia, and everywhere else in between.

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        Grayson, 6 months

        I have loved watching this family grow. I photographed the Morgans for the first time when their oldest daughter, Rivers, was just a baby. Coincidentally, it was at this same location, Alford Park, here in Tallahassee. Now, baby Grayson is 6 months old and we met at the park for his baby plan session.

        Collage of baby with family members in a field

        HELLO AND WELCOME!

        Sarah Gray is a Tallahassee Family Photographer and specializes in maternity, newborn at home, and baby photos in Tallahassee, Thomasville, Crawfordville, St. Marks, 30A, Gainesville, and all of North Florida and South Georgia.

        If you love these photos, and you are looking for a Tallahassee family photographer I would love to begin planning your session. With over 11 years of specializing in my favorite ages of little ones, maternity, newborn, and young families, I would love to photograph your family! To see more of my baby & family portfolio please click over here and get in touch if this is something you would love for your baby and family.

        I feel strongly that potential clients are able to see many full galleries of real sessions so you know exactly what to expect from your portraits as well! If you are interested in a custom portrait session with Sarah Gray Photography and would like more information, please click here to learn more about me and this experience.

        If you would like to reserve your baby or family photos on my calendar I would love for you to contact me here.

        0 comments
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          Sarah Gray Photography is a natural, lifestyle photographer specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, motherhood, and family photography.

          imagestimeless + joyful

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          Sarah Gray creates timeless and joyful images that are designed for living room walls and photo albums. Serving Tallahassee, Thomasville, Crawfordville, St. Marks, Gainesville and throughout the panhandle of north Florida and south Georgia.

          email us | sarah@sarahgray.net

          telephone (850) 321-0208

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          located in tallahassee, florida