Photographer, author, and creative force, Gray is not only the man behind the visual adventure aerial shots we know and love, but he and his husband are also the fathers to two adorable babies.
We caught up with this master of moments in between double dad-duties and the promotion of his new book, A World Of Opposites, to chat all things parenthood. Here, he shares their surrogate birth story, the biggest lesson fatherhood has taught him, and why the beauty of being a parent is the unpredictability.
The moment you found out your surrogate was pregnant and you were actually going to become a dad?
I was over the moon when I found out we were finally going to be dads! I’ve always wanted a family and while our two year (plus) journey to becoming parents was filled with joy, stress, excitement, and anxiety, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As we were in the process of getting pregnant and welcoming our kids into the world, we moved into a new house to accommodate our growing family. Every minute we put into designing our home and nurseries was so worth it when we brought them home for the first time.
Experience with your online community when you announced that you were having twins?
My husband and I had an overwhelming amount of support across our social media channels – who doesn’t love a baby, and the fact that we were having two made it even more special!
How did you feel meeting your babies for the first time?
The experience of meeting Max and Dove for the first time was a whirlwind of emotions. In early December of 2018, we got a call that the twins were arriving a month ahead of schedule. Full of nerves and excitement, we rushed down to the hospital in San Diego, where our surrogate was giving birth. Minutes after we arrived, our babies were born. The moment we held both of them in our arms was unbelievable; this was our new family for life.
Parenthood: Major success?
Successfully providing a loving, safe, and stimulating environment to raise our kids. So far, we have done a great job (especially during quarantine), coming up with creative ways to encourage our twins’ development. We’ve prioritized art, music, and activities that we can all enjoy together.
Parenthood: Epic fail?
Naively thinking we could ever be fully prepared for parenthood! I quickly learned there’s no way to anticipate a baby’s every need in advance. Before they came home, I worried over every little detail as I wanted everything to be perfect. However, the beauty of parenthood is the unpredictability of it all. All we can do is our best, show them as much love as possible and enjoy the real “life” moments, in the moment, that occur every day.
Handling the current pandemic and entertaining your kids at home? What are some of their favorite at-home activities?
The kids are at such a fun age, and we’ve been able to do a ton of activities together while at home. Fortunately, being quarantined in LA, means most days are spent in the pool, swimming, splashing, and teaching Max and Dove, how to swim. We also read to them often – they love my new kids book, A World Of Opposites, which has been perfect for exploring the far reaches of the world while we can’t travel.
Biggest lesson parenthood has taught you?
Slow. Down. By far the most important lesson I have learned. My career takes me all over the world and requires me to constantly be looking ahead, but parenthood requires me to be in the moment so as not to miss all of the beautiful little details. Every day the twins are going through major developmental milestones, and I love being there for every one of them.
Did you always want children and envision becoming a father?
I’ve always wanted children, but after meeting and marrying my husband, it became clear that I had an incredible partner to start a family with, and I was excited to do so! When we got married, we weren’t exactly sure when we would journey into parenthood, but there came a point, based on where we were in our lives and both wanted for the future, that we knew we were ready.
You travel (or did: ) a ton for work – how do you balance that with a young family?
The silver lining of quarantine is how much time we have been able to spend at home together as a family. It’s hard to be away from the kids when I travel, and we’re excited to be able to take them on trips as they get older. Earlier this year, we took a family trip to Aspen, where the kids experienced snow for the first time… watching them have new experiences and adventures like that was beyond comparison. However, there are times when I have to go on solo trips for work or to places that I can’t bring the kids. During those trips, I feel so lucky to have such an incredible partner as my husband to help me through this parenthood journey.
Any parenting advice while raising a family in LA?
Although some people love to raise their children in the suburbs, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be raising ours in the city where we have shared our lives for years and where our business thrives. Los Angeles is not a city known for being walkable, but we take the kids on walks as much as possible! My advice is to take your kids with you as much as possible and expose them to all the beauty, diversity, and culture of Los Angeles. We are lucky to live in a city that celebrates differences, has countless resources to help new parents, and is ever-changing just as our children are.