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    Monday, March 20, 2023

    Finding love in photography, family, and photographing families

    Tricia and Philip Ross Friday, January 14, 2021. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    This article is part of a special section focusing on Black history. The More than a Month special section will come out quarterly, followed by Pride, Hispanic Heritage and Native American months. More articles can be found at www.theday.com/blackhistorymonth.

    Tricia Ross recalls that on her second or third date with her husband, he brought his camera and was taking lots of pictures of their surroundings at the Nautical Mile on Freeport, Long Island — of restaurants, and of the two of them. With Philip sharing her interest in photography, Tricia was relieved to find someone who didn't find it weird she took pictures of everything but rather had a "capture the moment" kind of attitude.

    It was a far cry from someone she dated before. Tricia recalled that guy telling her she acted like someone who just got out of prison, taking pictures like she hadn't seen anything in 15 years. She hoped to find someone who didn't make fun of her hobby.

    That date with Philip was almost a decade ago, and the two — now 42 — have since gotten married, moved from New York to Norwich, and had a son, now 5.

    And started a photography company: Artsy Rossy Design.

    "We have a mutual love for coffee (lots of coffee!), French macarons, and what's probably an unhealthy obsession with crime and police dramas (Chicago PD and Criminal Minds are huge hits in our house)," their website reads. "We're based in southeastern Connecticut and available for travel throughout the US and worldwide (let's hear it for collecting passport stamps!) We truly share the belief that every moment, no matter how big or small, deserves to be captured, treasured, and shared!"

    At first, they got their feet wet by photographing friends for free, and then they started doing mini sessions in Wickham Park in Manchester for $99. To this day, the Rosses are still not sure how the first paying client — someone they didn't know — found them, but they have now photographed her family at least 10 times.

    When they had first started talking about doing photography professionally in 2017, they didn't know what they wanted to photograph, but through word of mouth and social media, they kept getting families. Trisha said she also loves doing branding shoots, and the people who have hired them have all been female business owners.

    When interacting with families, "I ask a lot of questions," Tricia said. "What does your kid like? What is your kid interested in? What do you love about your kid?"

    She said clients say they're very relatable. In one moment, that meant getting a bigger smile out of a kid by dancing and singing to the theme of the animated children's show "Pocoyo."

    There's a lot of diversity across their photos — families that are Middle Eastern, African, Asian, Filipino, Haitian, West Indian. They did Diwali photos for their first client, and shot the Holy New Martyrs Fall Festival and Russian Bazaar in Norwich in the fall.

    Another cultural event they photographed in Norwich was the Cape Verdean Flag Raising ceremony, last June. As they were leaving, they thought about how they didn't see anyone else there with a camera, and so they contacted The Norwich Times to share photos capturing what Philip noted he saw that day: "all love and unity."

    "I don't think we have enough opportunity to see in the media where Black and brown people get together and there isn't violence," Tricia said. She also commented, "I like Norwich because of the cultural diversity. I feel very comfortable here. I never felt like someone was giving me side eye because of the color of my skin."

    Photography enthusiasts bond in New York over Barbados and Connecticut connections

    Tricia grew up in East Hartford and got her first camera at eight years old. She would line up stuffed animals to photograph, and take pictures of her friends and her bike, and then she did photography competitions in high school.

    Photography started as a hobby for Philip when he was growing up in Barbados, after his father got him a camera for Christmas. He immigrated to the U.S. at age 24 and became a citizen in 2020, after taking classes at Otis Library.

    Tricia and Ross found some interesting connections in their origins: Tricia's parents are from Barbados, and when Philip's grandfather immigrated to the U.S., it was to Connecticut. His grandfather lived less than a half hour from where Tricia grew up.

    When they met in New York, Philip was helping manage a warehouse for a furniture company, and Tricia was working in an administrative role in the health care field.

    They had only been dating for five or six months when Hurricane Sandy hit. Philip is a weather buff, and considering Tricia lived in a home that was on stilts in the water, he convinced her to stay with him in Queens.

    When Tricia returned to her apartment, all she could see driving in was the National Guard. She had to show her ID to get through. There was no electricity.

    "I open the door, and it was something out of something you see on TV, where you're like, 'Oh my God, this isn't happening," Tricia said. Despite her apartment being nine feet above the water, the water line was three feet up in her apartment. Everything smelled like sewage. She walked on the carpet and heard the squish, squish, squish.

    "I walked outside and I sat on the driveway, and one of those guttural cries, I just cried," Tricia said. Philip helped her through. She moved in with him in Queens, and within the year, they were engaged and married.

    In 2014, they moved back to Tricia's home state. Her parents lived in Glastonbury, and as her mother's health was failing, she wanted to be closer.

    She was able to stay working with AdaptHealth, first from their New London office and then from home, but well before the pandemic. She works full-time while Philip has done seasonal work with UPS but otherwise stays home with their son, Sean Anderson, who has autism.

    When Sean Anderson was about two, Tricia said he was "kind of like the Tasmanian Devil." This was something she shared to comfort her second client ever, who was concerned about her one-and-a-half-year old son being all over the place for a photo shoot.

    "I said, 'If we can get pictures of our kid, we can get pictures of any kid.'"


    Tricia and Philip Ross Friday, January 14, 2021. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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