We had the good fortune of connecting with Crystal Gray and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Crystal, why did you pursue a creative career?
I have been telling stories since I was a young girl, in fact I wrote my first book in kindergarten which was bound, wrapped and placed in my school’s library. This goes to show creativity is rooted in my DNA.

When grew older, my passion was for print journalism but two years before graduating, the changes in the journalism industry meant that I had to pivot. I am fortunate to have received counsel from my professor and broadcast veteran during this time and switched to pursue broadcast journalism instead.

After nine and a half years of networking, gaining experience and much hard graft, I won an Emmy, produced an Edward Murrow winning newscast, and achieved a GreenEye Shade award. You could not have told me I would not be News Director one day.

As my professional career accelerated, personal challenges arose when my mother became unwell. I took a temporary leave to care for her and thankfully, my news station was accommodating of my personal commitments but unfortunately, she never fully recovered.

I was juggling being a working parent and a caregiver and eventually I reached burnout and my health began deteriorating. Feeling defeated, I resigned from my job thinking this move would improve my circumstances, but it had the opposite effect; creativity literally runs through my bloodstream and forms a huge part of my identity. Without it, I felt lost.

My inspiration and sense of purpose came back when my husband presented me with DSLR camera. This ignited an old flame I had for photography! Having the time and capacity I never had before, I started to showcase my talent by doing phot shoots with my children. My friends and family noticed my work and wanted me to work for them and thus Gray Manor Photography was born!

In 2019 we re-branded as Gray Manor Creatives because our services had expanded to photography and videography, for families and business owners across the South East. I finally felt reconnected with my purpose but more importantly, being able to tell the stories of my clients through a lens. Whether my clients are entrusting me to capture moments they want to treasure forever or shots to raise awareness of their brand, so they are noticed first, I am humbled to be a part of their journey.

Art isn’t who you are, it is what drives you. When an artist creates, they are giving you a piece of them, who they are, their experiences, and their take on society at large. Telling stories is my art form, and it is truly my pleasure to serve.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is a form of therapy for both myself as well as my clients. Women aged 29-54 are my primary demographic, and what I find is, the older we get, the more the self-doubt starts to rear its ugly head. Those nagging questions we had as young ladies, resurface, only this time, they echo more loudly!

“Am I good enough?” “Am I starting to age?” “Where did those lines come from?” “Is that grey hair?
Society tells us how we should look, dress, and behave, but rarely, if ever does it share with us the triumphs of the women who have survived and thrived through their crisis.

Gray Manor Creatives was designed to help each and every woman answer those questions, by showing her exactly who she is: a stunning woman with luck, beauty, and experience on her side. As a woman within my own target market, I not only understand those insecurities, I’ve experienced them myself.

In fact, it was my initial client experience that crafted the Gray Manor Creatives brand. I saw something in these women that they never see in themselves: Fabulousness!

Regardless of whether I’m shooting families, weddings, branding sessions, or boudoir, I make sure to take a few intentional photos of the woman, herself. Because let’s face it, once we graduate, or get married, the desire for professional portraits tends to wane, in favor of portraits of the family. Our goal is to break that trend. We strive to help every mother, wife, sister, girlfriend see how truly beautiful she is at every stage.

The road has not always been easy, but I can truly say my support system has always been top-notch, and I wouldn’t have made it this far without any of them.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
These days I’m a bit of a homebody, but there are a few spots I’d love to suggest, including Cayo Cocoa for dinner.

To relax, I’d probably opt to visit Escape Day spa, or get our nails done by A Touch of Art, Nail studio.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Lashandra Bates-Sister Ella Taylor-Mother (deceased)

Tanisha Foster- Chop Friendly
Remarcus Gray- Gray’s- Pressurewashing
Dr. Fredrika Atkins- Building Hands Non-profit
India Allen

Website: www.graymanor.co

Instagram: www.instagram.com/graymanorcreatives

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/crystal-gray-0b05551a/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/graymanorcreatives

Yelp: www.yelp.com/GrayManorCreatives

Image Credits
Melissa Newton Photography (headshot) Gray Manor Creatives (remaining shots)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.