This is the first in a series of occasional articles profiling some of the new residents who’ve decided to call Shelter Island home.
Not long ago, photographer Ana Gambuto and her husband Damon, who had been living in Brooklyn Heights for the past 12 years, were searching for a vacation home. They’d been house-hunting in Connecticut and upstate New York — and one day thought they’d found a house upstate that checked everything on their list — yet it didn’t feel right. The next day, they came to the Island to visit a friend as they had before and realized that this was what they wanted. “As soon as we got on the ferry, we knew,” she said.
They found a house they loved in Silver Beach, and with COVID impacting the city, were happy to make the move to the Island. With their two children, 2-year-old Colette and 8-month-old Beau, the neighborhood is “very walkable.”
In addition to the friends they had visited on the Island, the Gambutos are expanding their circle of acquaintances in various ways. Ms. Gambuto offered a family photo session, through a friend who’s a big fan of the Perlman Music Program, for PMP to use in the online auction for their virtual gala this summer. And recently she was invited to join a local Facebook group for mothers, to find out where to take her little ones for pumpkin-picking and other activities.
Her specialty as a photographer is getting fun, candid shots of families, particularly infants. She’s been working outdoors, masked and socially distant “while the weather holds.” She doesn’t plan to do indoor sessions while COVID restrictions remain in place. In addition to families, she works as a freelance photographer for several media organizations. The current issue of Parents Magazine, for example, has an article on safe Halloween activities for which she did the photos. Her work’s also been seen in Goop, Shutterfly, Redbook, HGTV, Martha Stewart and other magazines.
She sometimes works on projects with her husband, who’s a TV video producer. On her website, anagambuto.com, she describes the photo coaching service she provides to help clients get the results they want to achieve. Lately she’s been channeling her creativity into a line of sweatshirts that reflect her love of the Island.
She and her husband are making their professional lives work around the challenging demands of raising a toddler and an infant. The 2-year-old is at the “cutest” stage which, she laughs, helps parents deal with some of the more difficult phases of childhood: “High risk, high reward.” She expressed sadness that her parents haven’t been able to see their new grandson in person. They live in California, where she was raised, and the travel isn’t deemed safe yet.
Among the Island features she’s come to enjoy are the Havens Farmers Market and Sylvester Manor’s farm market, browsing for fresh vegetables to incorporate into new recipes. “I’m also a sucker for a latte at Marie Eiffel’s,” she said. “I don’t know what they put in it, but it’s the best.” She’s also learned the well-kept secret that Islanders know: the weeks after Labor Day can be the most beautiful.
The most heart-warming experience she’s had since settling in, she said, was having a neighbor bring over a hand-written note and a bottle of champagne to welcome them. “I’m learning that that is very Shelter Island,” she said.