My Journey-How I got to where I am today

Personal

When I was a young girl, I always had an interest for being creative. I was a dancer from the age of 3 all up into high school. After graduation, there was a talent agency that came scouting into town. My then boyfriend (now hubby) encouraged me to audition. He said, “It’s better to go and find out you didn’t make it, then wonder your whole life if you missed your only opportunity.” So, I got the courage to go alone…scared to tell my parents in case I failed. Out of 1500 people, I was 1 of 200 who got a call back and 1 of only 20 who got signed.

Thurston Cabaret dancer Erica doing a leap in Springfield Oregon.
All state routine (mom’s video screenshot haha)

The agency sent me to a conference in Los Angeles where hundreds of agencies from around the world attended. There I ended up getting 7 awards which included Model and Dancer of the year. I also had 20 agencies interested in signing with me. I modeled around the globe for 5 years working for Free people, Nordstrom, Amazon.com, Forbes Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Jason Wu, Michael Cinco, just to name a few. 

My favorite place modeling took me was in Dubai. I worked every day when I was there, my look was in high demand (pale skin and dark hair). I lived there off and on for two years. I am so excited to take my husband there to see where I lived and meet my old friends. I loved the culture, the beauty, the adventure…I always say I would move there forever if it wasn’t for that summer heat. 

One time a job there flew me to Jordan for the day specifically for a magazine editorial. Later, I found out I had a great uncle who used to be security for the prince there. It was really cool to be in a place where family once was that I never got to meet and, in a way, feel more connected to.

In 2015, I got married to my high school sweetheart Javan. We eloped in Texas after he graduated college at Texas A&M Kingsville. We did long distant for four years while he was in school, and I was modeling. We had a little distance after getting married. I went back home here in Oregon to see my older sister graduate college, while Javan went and competed his final track meet and became the National Champion in Javelin. I’ll write another separate blog in the near future of how our love story came about. It has a lot of silly and sweet moments. 

Erica Gray getting sealed to her husband at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints temple in Portland Oregon.

In July of 2017, I had our first child Sophronia at the age of 23. This changed priorities for me, and I ended up retiring from modeling. But throughout my career, I was always curious about all aspects of the business. I would ask questions to the photographer, stylists, and hmua for why they did certain things the way they did. I still longed for a creative outlet so because of my history I ended up switching behind the camera. 

I started working with modeling agencies in developing the portfolios of their new models. I helped with all aspects. I provided stylish outfits, did their hair and makeup, and coached them on their posing so they can have confidence in themselves for every photoshoot. Some of the models I worked with have been featured in Vogue and Seventeen Magazine. I’ve also had styling featured for Vogue Italia (special shout out to Bob Williams for that collaboration). 

I also started working with families and seniors in 2017 while we were in Texas. Once we moved back to Oregon, I photographed my first wedding in 2018 at Deep Woods in Elmira, just right outside of Eugene. I was so excited taking what I learned in my modeling career and bringing it to now all of my sessions. I love the feeling of making a positive impact in someone’s life.

The Bradshaw Family of Abilene Texas photographed by Erica Gray Photography.

In November of 2019, I had our second daughter Lucy at 26. Then the following year in January of 2021 we finally got our boy Odin. He has been a struggle so far because he had a tongue and lip tie that had to be corrected and is relearning how to eat. I am definitely learning as I go. We have good days and bad, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I love them all so much!

Erica Gray Photography of Oregon with her family

Well, that is my journey so far. It has definitely been a unique one that I am extremely grateful for because it got me to where I am today. I am excited to keep growing and coming up with more ways to be creative and expand my brand. I am excited to help support you on your path to whatever you are striving for. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon! 

All the best,

Oregon Wedding Photographer

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