21 Vines Photography

    

Tell me a little about yourself.

“Hello!  My name is Heather Gregg.  I live northwest of Indy with my husband Josh and our two girls, Lilah and Ivy.  Our girls keep us busy!  Lilah is in first grade and Ivy just started preschool. Ivy has down syndrome.  She is one of my favorite people.  She is a little ray of sunshine and brings us so much joy everyday just in who she is.  She is beautiful, smart, strong, sassy and many other things.  She inspires me in so many ways.  I work part time as a nurse practitioner but recently cut my hours to stay home more with Ivy and to focus on two things that I am very passionate about, my photography business and The Lucky Mama Project.”

 

How did you get started with 21 Vines Photography?
“I have always loved photography.  In high school I was a yearbook photographer and managed the dark room.  I loved it.  I thought about photography as a career at one point but remember thinking I probably wouldn’t make enough money and so instead I ended up in nursing.  Fast forward to having two beautiful girls to photograph and my passion for photography came back.  I wanted to see how I’d do with family portraits so I photographed a few friends’ families and was hooked.  I went on to start a business and then named it after Ivy.  21 for the copy of the 21st chromosome, and vines, like the plant, ivy.  My hope is that she will also love photography and maybe one day we will do it together.”
What is your favorite part about doing photography?
“I honestly get so excited to give people photos they love.  Capturing the family’s connection and photographing children are my favorite things.  It’s a great creative outlet for me and it’s something I can do that allows me to earn income and maximize my time with my family.  It’s been really fun to learn more about photography and  find my own style.  I had the honor of photographing almost 50 kids in Indiana for The Lucky Mama Project’s 2020 calendar and I loved meeting all the families and using these photos to show just how beautiful and amazing these kids are.”
What is your favorite part about photographing families of children with special needs?
“I do not limit my photos to families of children with special needs, although I do love working with them.  I feel like having Ivy helps me to be more understanding of how families and children with a disability may feel or react during a session.  I don’t expect their child or any child for that matter to be super excited about getting their photos taken or to be on their absolute best behavior.  I try to make it as fun as I can and help them to feel comfortable.  I don’t want it to be stressful for anyone.”
What is a fun story about a family that you have worked with or a fun session that you have had. 
“I think my favorite session this last year was the calendar shoot at 21 Petals Flower Farm in Lafayette.  It is a flower farm started by a family who has a little guy with Down syndrome.  They started the farm so it would be something the family could do together and that it may someday employ their son if that is what he chooses to do.  I think it is a really special place.  The flowers were beautiful and I absolutely love the photos from that shoot.”
What other types of advocacy do you take part in?
“My main focus has been advocating for those with Down syndrome.  With work, my family and now my small business, I honestly haven’t had time for anything else.  Having Ivy has opened up a whole new world to me.  Having her just ignited something in me that makes me want to show people what she is capable of.  My photography business combined with The Lucky Mama Project has given me the opportunity to show off so many of our kids and I just love that.  I want people to see these beautiful, smiling faces.  I hope that seeing them will change their perception of people with Down syndrome.”
What is the biggest lesson (or few lessons) that your daughter has taught you?
“There are so many…she has opened my mind and my heart to those who have disabilities.  I have a new found appreciation for the parents of these children.  She has taught me to appreciate the little things.  She does things in her own time.  I’ve always worried about each milestone, wondering if she will sit, crawl, walk, run, etc.  She always does, when she’s ready.  More than anything she has taught me that she is capable of doing anything she wants.  I think that the limitations I have in my mind because of her diagnosis are slowly slipping away as she continues to show me she is capable of whatever she sets her mind to.”
What is the Lucky Mama project?
“Last year I started a project with Down Syndrome Indiana called The Lucky Mama Project.  We provide support and care packages to moms in Indiana who receive a prenatal or birth diagnosis.  We are able to connect them with other local moms which I think is so helpful during that time.  The project basically says to new moms, “Congrats, welcome to the club (The Lucky Few), everything is going to be okay.”  The Lucky Mama Project was inspired by Ivy and my experience having a prenatal diagnosis for Down syndrome.  It was a really hard time for me.  The fear of the unknown and all of the outdated and negative info on Down syndrome was overwhelming.  Connecting with other moms was really helpful for me and I want to do whatever we can to help other new moms.  The Down syndrome community is so welcoming to new parents and so many people are more than willing to help and share their diagnosis story. It is truly amazing how supportive the community is.”
Where can people stay up to date with new things?
“You can follow 21 vines on Instagram or Facebook.  The Lucky Mama Project also has a Facebook page and a website through Down Syndrome Indiana where donations can be made.”
Anything else that you would like to share?
“The Lucky Mama Project is so important to me and is always looking for donations for our birth care packages.  We gladly accept any handmade baby blankets and new baby items such as bibs, pacifiers, onesies, hats, bows, small toys, etc.  Please visit our Facebook page for more details or feel free to drop off or mail these items to Down Syndrome Indiana at 708 E Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46202.”
The Lucky Mama Project’s 2020 calendar is on sale now and can be purchased here.
Photo Credit: Jessica Rene Photography
Emma Benner

Emma Benner

Social Media Intern

Emma is a student-athlete at Purdue University majoring in Kinesiology. She has been involved in the special needs community for many years as a coach with Special Olympics Minnesota, and as a personal care assistant/respite sitter. She has worked in media, marketing, and journalism with various organizations. When Emma has some free time, she enjoys riding horses (she grew up doing barrel racing), baking doughnuts and cake pops (yum!), pursuing her new art interest (wood burning, painting, or drawing), or going for a long run in sunny weather (her favorite!).