Department of Art Alumni
Written by Kate Czaplinski, Ridgefield Press Staff
Thursday, 13 January 2011 06:16
Erica Fabrizio’s passion for photography started after she
had her son, Oliver Odone, shown here in the pumpkin at 8 months old.
A few months ago, when a Ridgefield couple prepared to give birth to their son, one of the first calls they made was to fellow Ridgefielder Erica Fabrizio.
Ms. Fabrizio was anxiously and excitedly awaiting the call though she wasn’t a family member or even a longtime friend, but rather a photographer.
“She called me right after she called her husband,” Ms. Fabrizio said of the mother going into labor.
Soon, she was with them in the hospital, snapping away.
“It’s a hard thing to explain to people,” Ms. Fabrizio said. “It’s about the moments — him helping her through the contractions and you can see their relationship, when the baby gets its first footprint and the first family picture.”
The newborn in the nest is Gavyn, son of
Casey and Keri Speielmann of Ridgefield.
Less than a year ago, Ms. Fabrizio bought herself a professional camera so she wouldn’t miss the moments of her new son Oliver’s life. It quickly turned into a passion for capturing other people’s families and memories, including births, maternity, newborns, weddings and photos of one-year-olds digging into their first birthday cake.
“I love all the stages from the wedding to the baby,” Ms. Fabrizio said.
The birth was her first as a photographer and an intense experience.
“It took me days to become one with what had just happened,” Ms. Fabrizio said. “There were very scary moments — it was very different to be on the other side. There were important decisions she and her husband had to make in front of me.”
The self-taught photographer has a degree in painting and took photography classes in school but didn’t realize her love for it until she became a mom. Her husband, Jamison Odone, is an author and illustrator of children’s books.
“My camera was pretty much a point and shoot and I called it a ‘miss the moment camera,’” Ms. Fabrizio said. As soon as she’d try to catch her son doing something he’d move and the moment would be gone.
“I thought, ‘This is ridiculous, I’ll never get anything.’”
After she perfected her skills with her son and family, friends began complimenting her photos and asking her to take pictures for them. The business grew from there. Since then she’s taken photos of a few hundred Ridgefielders during the town’s first Cultural Fest and Halloween Walk and has been surprised to see how quickly her business has grown.
On a recent consultation with a bride-to-be, she made sure to make it clear she doesn’t like posed and unnatural portraits.
“I’m not a Sears,” Ms. Fabrizio said. “I don’t still talk to or keep in touch with my wedding photographer — that’s the complete opposite of what I want.”
She jokes that if she showed up to take family photos and found her subjects dressed in matching khakis and white T-shirts, she would probably walk out.
“I want a person to be themselves in front of me — I don’t want anyone to dress up in suits and ties just because I’m coming.”
Isabella Thomke, daughter of Ben and Jennifer Thomke, formerly of Ridgefield
On another recent shoot, she followed a toddler around a park and got down on his level.
“His mother said to me, ‘you really captured his personality,’” Ms. Fabrizio said. “A child has a million different personalities — in a 10-minute span you get to see 20 different versions of them.”
Other than the birth photo packages, she offers a number of different options including a package she calls “The Cake Smash.”
It involves putting a baby, dressed in only a diaper, in front of a birthday cake and taking photos of the messiness that ensues.
“The first birthday is a big one and when they are allowed to have sugar,” Ms. Fabrizio said.
She works with The Cake Box in town to provide the cakes and also brings balloons to the shoot.
“We have our own little party,” she said.
Some people might feel uncomfortable inviting a stranger into their lives during personal and sometimes stressful moments and that’s why Ms. Fabrizio makes sure she isn’t a stranger.
“I want to be their friends and get to know them,” she said. “ I get attached.”
She believes her son recognizes her best when she’s behind the lens.
“I have over 30,000 photos of Oliver,” she said.
Spending so much time behind the lens prompted her to teach her sister how to use the camera so she can be sure to be in some of the photos with her family.
“I might have to start Photoshopping myself in,” she joked. “My husband’s thinks the camera is his cell phone.”