This week we’re featuring local mom Erin Borzellino of Harrison! In addition to being a mom to her three children Giorgio, Catherine and Emilia, she’s also an accomplished photographer. She has this incredible and unique documentary-style approach to her photography that really sets her apart. I think her standout quality is the way she takes ordinary moments and beautifully captures everyday life.
In addition to being a photographer, she is also the Founder and Executive Director of The Giorgio Foundation. Her son Giorgio was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) at the age of 5 and together with her parents, she started the foundation to fund targeted research to find treatments and hopefully a cure. She is a true inspiration; a dedicated champion and advocate for her son Giorgio, and the many other children that are impacted by this disease.
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Harrison?
I am originally from Central Pennsylvania. My husband, Nick, and I moved around quite a bit before we settled in Harrison about 7 years ago
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have 3 kids. Giorgio is 14, Catherine is 11 and Emilia is 9
Why did you decide to settle in Harrison?
When we learned that Giorgio was going to require some extra help in school we researched school districts that would be able to provide great special education resources for him while also being a good environment for the girls. Harrison was a perfect fit.
What do you love about living in the Sound Shore?
I mostly love the people I’ve met since moving here. Coming from PA, it still seems like a novelty to me that I can be in the city or at the beach in less than an hour.
What’s your favorite restaurant and place to shop in the Sound Shore?
Since jeans are my daily uniform, I can often find a good pair at Great Stuff in Rye.
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?
We seem to always be near water, if we can. Beach or lake in the summer. During the school year we watch a lot of cooking shows!
What’s your go-to thing to do when you need some “me time”?
I like to run. Or develop film. So I’m either literally running away or locking myself in a dark room and no one is able to bother me!
How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?
I’ve had a business for about 7 years. I took some photography classes in college (before digital cameras existed!). I didn’t pursue it as a career until after Emilia was born and realized that people other than my mom were recognizing my work. There is a really wonderful, supportive community of photographers in the Sound Shore area and they made entering into a competitive industry less intimidating.
How would you describe your photography style?
I try to be very “moment driven”. There is a lot of beauty in ordinary moments. Sometimes I’m waiting for them to happen or sometimes I’m instigating them. All the better if it’s unfolding in beautiful light.
What advice do you give to families prior to a family photo shoot?
Relax!! I say that a lot before the session. I am pretty bossy during a shoot, so there is no time to worry about whether you are doing it right . Sometimes I ask the parents to give me a few minutes with kids alone. Kids like to perform for parents but once they are left with me, I get the good stuff.
What’s your favorite part of owning your own business?
Freedom! I like being able to take vacations when my kids are off school and be available for sick days, doctor appointments and carpools.
You’re also the Founder and Executive Director of The Giorgio Foundation. Can you tell us about that?
My son has a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1 or NF1 – it causes tumors to grow along his nerves anywhere in his body and can also cause disfiguring tumors on his skin. His struggles with NF so far have been mostly ADHD and severe scoliosis which resulted in a spinal surgery in August. A few years ago together with my parents we started The Giorgio Foundation and our mission is to fund targeted research to find treatments or a cure. NF can impact a person in many different ways, but we decided to focus on the disfiguring skin tumors that are not life threatening, but definitely life altering. We have researchers working at Washington University in St Louis and University of Texas – Southwestern in Dallas and through the generosity of our donors we are now funding groundbreaking research in dermal tumors. During this time I have met some extraordinary people who suffer with NF and continue to be an inspiration. There is a lot of uncertainty not knowing how Giorgio will ultimately be impacted, but the foundation gives us all a feeling of a little bit of control.
How do you juggle your photography business, the foundation and motherhood?
Not very well – there are lots of dropped balls. But I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the group of friends I have met here. They support me in every emergency childcare situation, every business venture and every fundraising effort.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
My own mom taught me to trust my instincts. All mothers have to deal with surprise challenges and I’m glad she gave me the confidence to not question myself.
Click here to see more of Erin’s photography.
Click here to learn more about NF1 and how you can donate to support the Borzellino family and others that are impacted by this disease.