Leah White Sands | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

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Ok here's what I need to know- How in the heck did it take me this long to make my way out to White Sands?  I've lived in El Paso off and on for 3 years now and this was my first trip out there.  What? This place is seriously cool.

Leah and I packed up early in the morning for a day trip.  I brought my cameras because, well, I always bring my cameras, but I wasn't planning a photoshoot.  But when I saw how pretty it was, I knew I had to have Leah model for me.  Luckily, I never clean my car, and so I had some pretty dresses and a big floppy hat in the truck.  And we came out with some beautiful images.

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Of course we played some too.  We ran around in the sand, sledded, and I even got behind the camera for a bit (Photo credit to Leah for the photos of me- she did an awesome job!)  We had such a great time! I definitely won't be hesitating about the drive next time I have an idea to go out to White Sands!

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Diana- The First Roll: Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

Diana- The First Roll: Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

I've been loving my holga, so when I came across a good deal on another Lomography style camera, I thought why not?  Let's play.

So for $25, I picked up a used Diana camera.  

At a basic level, Dianas are pretty much the same as holgas.  They use medium format film, are made entirely of plastic, and have very limited settings options.

Shelly Glamour | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

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Morning light, mountains, and beautiful dresses.  These are some of my favorite things and they all came together for Shelly's glamour session.  We had so much fun for this one.  Shelly showed up with a trunk full of gorgeous dresses and shoes and was excited to shoot.  We ended up laughing for most of the session and had a really great time! 

Check out the photos below!

 

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If you are interested in booking your own glamour session please contact me to schedule your complimentary consultation!

Our Life in Instax: Mikaela Joy | El Paso Portrait Photographer

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Y'all, I've been dying for one of these little cameras basically since they came out. 

These days basically everything is digital.  We record our day to day life on our phones, where we fill up SD cards with pictures we never look at.  We hire photographers for our special moments, photographers who send us USB's filled with beautiful photos- beautiful photos that we post on facebook and then toss into a drawer and never look at.  I'm tired of everything digital.

So there is a major draw for me to an instax camera.  Instead of creating a file, a instax creates an instant print of your image- a print that can be passed around and shared and displayed.  Granted, it's a tiny print the size of a business card, but it's something real.  And it's really fun to play with too!

I spent an entire day chasing little man and all the animals around with my instax camera to test it out and I had so much fun!  This little camera is definitely going to become a staple in my tools to capture my day to day life!

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Holga- The First Two Rolls: Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

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I think I have a new favorite camera.  

It's funny, I've invested thousands of dollars into all the amazing equipment that I own, the equipment that helps me to nail shot after shot exactly how I've envisioned it. 

But the camera that is making my heart sing these days is nothing like that gear.  It cost me $30 and is made entirely of plastic. This camera is a holga.

Holgas are funny cameras.  They were made to be a cheap option for a consumer camera back in the film days.  Optically, they are one of the worst cameras ever made.  Yet they are loved by film photographers around the world.  

Why?  Well they have a very distinctive look.  They are known for light leaks and blurry edges, and not being very sharp, all the things that are technically terrible in a photograph.  But they create really interesting photographs.

  Holgas are very basic, which means the photographer has very little control.  There are three settings for light, and three settings for focus. All you can really do with a holga is to pick up a roll of 120 film and go shoot.

And that's exactly what I did.  There is definitely some trial and error in learning how to shoot a Holga, so I've mostly been practicing on my son.  Here's a bit of what I've done so far: 

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I've been having a lot of fun with this little camera.  I can't wait to try it out for some more serious uses!

Cassy Maternity | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

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Isn't motherhood beautiful?

I absolutely love shooting maternity portraits.  Being pregnant is such a fleeting moment.  It doesn't feel like it at the time, with the morning sickness, the Braxton hicks, and the incredible exhaustion, but looking back afterwards you'll realize, pregnancy is gone in the blink of an eye. 

And there's really nothing else like it.  There is no other moment in life where a mother and her child are that together, bonded by the fact that they, for a while, share the same body.  The more I learn about pregnancy and how a mother's body adapts to grow a child, the more I realize how amazing it is.  

Pregnancy is also a moment that women often forget to capture on camera.  

Understandably so, being pregnant is hard work.  Getting dressed up with hair and makeup can feel impossible when all you want to do is sit on the couch and drink a slushie. I've definitely been there, and I get that.  But it's so worth it.  Photos from my pregnancy are some of my favorites.  I look at back at them in awe.  Unless I have more children I will never look like that again, my body will never perform those amazing feats again.  But I will always have photos to remember.

So needless to say, when Cassy wanted to have maternity portraits done, I was excited.  She has other children, but has never done photos while she was pregnant.  I was thrilled to be able to finally capture that for her.  

We made our way into the mountains on a foggy morning with a threat of rain.  It was a risky day to shoot, for fear of a sudden downpour, but it was so worth it.  The fog rolled over the mountains in such a beautiful way, it was absolutely gorgeous.

But why explain when I can show- have a look for yourselves!

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Isn't she stunning? 

I also brought my Holga for some experimental film portraits.  This one's a bit different, but I'm absolutely in love with the looks that this little plastic camera can create.  

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If you are interested in your own portrait session please contact me to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Sara Portraits | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

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When I first moved to El Paso I was pretty sure I was going to be a strictly studio photographer.  I was coming from Savannah, GA which is one of the most beautiful cities in the country.  You can park your car just about anywhere downtown, get out, and be surrounded by absolutely beautiful places to take a portrait.  I was pretty spoiled there when it comes to photography locations and I was pretty sure that shooting in El Paso wasn't going to be my cup of tea.

It turns out I was quite wrong.  Downtown El Paso is, for me, even more fun to shoot at than Savannah.  I love all the colors and textures, and the way the light hits in certain places.  It's absolutely beautiful. 

This session was a chance for me to really explore downtown.  Sara met up with me for a lifestyle session where we basically just wandered around and shot wherever caught my eye.  This was such a laid back shoot and it was so much fun!  It was great to have the chance to just play a bit and see what El Paso has to offer.

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Sara on Film | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

The thing I love most about shooting in downtown El Paso is the color.  There are all kinds of colorful walls and buildings that make amazing backdrops.  So It seemed like a fun challenge that instead of bringing a roll of Ektar (my absolute favorite color film), I would bring a roll of black and white film for this downtown shoot. 
And it was.  When I stopped looking for color I started noticing all the amazing textures and light patterns instead.  Sara met me downtown for a lifestyle type portrait session, and instead of planning ahead which specific locations I wanted to use, we just explored.  Sara was pretty much up for whatever and was totally cool with following me aimlessly around El Paso.  It ended up being a really fun session!

Since I wasn't super happy with the fomapan film I used for my last session, I decided to go with the tried and true Tri-x 400.  I had never used it myself, but according to basically everyone online it's one of the best films out there, so I figured I'd give it a go.

This session was shot on a Nikon FM.

Check out the photos below:

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If you are interested in your own portrait session with Mikaela Joy, please contact me to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Martibeth on Film | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

But wait, there's more!
 

Not only did I have a great time playing in puddles with Martibeth, I also got the chance to play a bit with film photography.  I had been dying to get someone in front of my camera with some black and white film, but my last time developing a roll had ended in a bit of disaster (it was my first attempt and I came up with a completely blank roll) so I wasn't confident enough to shoot an entire session that way yet. 

But Martibeth was totally up for playing a bit, so I put a roll of Fomapan 400 through my Nikon FM and decided to see what happened.

It may not be for everyone, but I just love the look of black and white film.  The grain adds such life to the photos and I love the challenge of having the color stripped away.  It forces me to look at the scene a bit differently and I feel black and white really showcases the subject of the portrait.

After this session, I can safely say that Fomapan 400 isn't my jam, but that's the other beauty of film- experimenting and finding out what works for you.  I did end up with a few shots I'm pretty happy with, and for this being my first self-developed roll of black and white film, I think that's pretty great.

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Leah Glamour | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

I know I always say this, but I had so much fun with this shoot!  Leah came into my studio for a day of pampering and some Hollywood glamour portraits.  She had her hair and makeup done by my amazing makeup artist Sarah Martin (look her up if you are in El Paso and need makeup!), picked out this gorgeous dress from my studio closet (which seriously looks like it was made for her), and played model for a day! 

Of course she rocked it.  How could she not looking like that?! The Hollywood glamour style suited her so well, and it's one of my favorite styles to shoot.  Check out the photos here below:


If you are interested in having your own glamour portrait session please contact me to book your complimentary consultation today.

Martibeth | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

Martibeth | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

Ah El Paso.  When it rains here it REALLY rains.  I somehow missed monsoon season when I lived here years ago (something about the driest couple years here in a really long time), so when I first heard the little pitter patter of raindrops on my roof, I was confused...

Kelli Family | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

I've got another throwback today!  I love working with families, and this one in particular is one of my favorite families.  This session was one of the last ones I did before we left Georgia and it was a blast.

Of course I knew it would be.  When I first met Kelli, and found out that her oldest boy was named Riley, it was pretty obvious that we were going to be friends.  And then I met her youngest who is just like my Riley only a year older and they became great friends.

So needless to say, this session was a blast.  We ran around and played at some gorgeous locations and then finished things off with a Mexican restaurant and margaritas.  And while I love the posed photos we took that day, I feel like the restaurant photo sums things up best.

Sarah Glamour | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

Into the archives! I can't believe I haven't shared this session yet!  This was my first studio session after the move to El Paso, and it was such a fun session!

I met Sarah while working a military ball.  She was wearing this beautiful dress and looking all around gorgeous and all I could think was how great she would be to photograph.  When we got to talking and I found out that she is a makeup artist as well, I knew we had to work together. 

We had a great time with this shoot, and I feel like it really shows in the photos.  Doesn't she look gorgeous?

If you are interested in your own glamour portrait session, please contact me to schedule your complimentary consultation

How Riley Sees it- Photos by my 2 Year Old | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

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I've got a budding photographer on my hands.  Little man has been interested in my camera for a while now, but as he's getting older he's really starting to want to take his own photos.  He's pretty well over modeling for me, and is constantly telling me "mommy's turn" when I'm trying to get him to smile for me. 

But of course he's only 2 and my DLSR is a little complicated for him at this point so I decided to buy him a disposable camera.  I was sure we'd end up developing a blurry mess of nothingness, but he actually caught on pretty quick.  I think my little man might have a knack for this! 

He had so much fun shooting with this that I think I may need to find him a camera of his own (that doesn't involve me developing rolls and rolls of film for him).  If anyone has any suggestions for kid-friendly cameras (preferably with a viewfinder) leave them in the comments below, I'd love to hear some suggestions. 

In the meantime, here's how Riley sees the world!

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The Power of Prints | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

I'm working on a really cool project this morning. After my vacation my mom sent me home with a big folder of old family photos.  This morning I have been working on scanning these and restoring them in order to make new prints. 

These photos are amazing.  The middle portrait in the image above is a wedding photo from 1906. This beautiful print is 110 years old and in immaculate condition- a perfect display of my family from a century ago.

The other photos were probably home photos taken on a Kodak brownie (one of the first consumer cameras).  They are all taken on the front porch because that's where the light was good enough for that camera.  That little boy in many of the pictures- he's my great grandpa.

When I look at these prints, I am astounded by their longevity.  Many of the photos of my life are stored on cell phones and hard drives, but in 100 years will that ancient technology even be accessible?  I belong to the most photographed generation, yet our great grandchildren will probably never see photos like these of us.  They will be long gone on broken hard drives and cloud storage owned by companies that no longer exist. 

But you know what photos will survive?  The ones you print.  That 20x30 family print above your mantel will outlive you and your children.  And those albums that line your bookshelves- they will too.

This is why it's so important to me to sell prints,  In each of my photo sessions we are creating memories that deserve to last.  It's why I've invested in a high quality photo printer and have meticulously shopped photo labs for the best products.  Just like these photos of my family long gone, your memories deserve to last.


If you are interested in preserving your memories with Mikaela Joy Photography, please contact me to set up your complimentary consultation today!

My Analog Summer | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

You haven’t heard from me in a while.  There are a couple reasons for that.  One is that I’m on vacation.  I’m in the Pacific Northwest soaking up the sunshine and taking in the beautiful mountain views.

The other reason you haven’t heard from me it that this summer I’ve gone analog.

Well sort of.  I recognize the irony of me typing that sentence from my laptop.  But as I type I’m sitting on the front porch of my parent’s house, a slight breeze lifting the smell of lavender to my nose. So I'm outside at least.

And yes, I’ve spent a good portion of my summer glued to my cell phone screen, as per usual, but it hasn’t been all day from the comfort of my couch.  It hasn’t been all summer.

Instead I’ve spent this summer huddled by the warmth of a campfire.  I’ve spent my summer with books- the paper kind, well loved, with writing in the margins and blueberry-stained pages. My summer has been spent loading film into a 30-year-old camera, and the satisfying click of its shutter.

My summer has been perfect.

You see, this summer has brought me a new love- film photography. 

I didn’t grow up with film like many of the older pros.  Although I went through a significant number of disposable cameras at a young age, I was quickly upgraded to a 5 megapixel Olympus in order to save my parents money on developing costs.  I’ve always been able to see my shots right away, to instantly upload to a computer, and to shoot as many images as my SD card (or whatever those cameras used) could hold. 

Shooting with film is a beautiful slow down.   

There’s something so freeing about taking a shot and not looking instantly to the LCD screen to see how it turned out, something in knowing that you only have 36 shots so you better make them count.  And it’s amazing to be using a piece of technology created 30 plus years ago that works beautifully and doesn’t require batteries. 

And the feeling of seeing a roll of film for the first time, weeks after the first frame was shot? There’s nothing quite like it. 

I’m so excited to play more with this medium and see how it changes my work.  But until then let me share some images from my first roll of film. These images were shot on a Nikon FM with Portra 400.

Kitt Family 2016 | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

Today I want to share a session that's a little older.  I've been behind on blogging, but I can't skip sharing this one.  Everything about it makes me smile!

This is a family session I did for my good friend Kitt.  She's been with me since the beginning of my photography journey and I've done countless sessions with her family.  It's so fun comparing all the photos I've done with them to see how their family has grown.

Possible one of the most fun aspects of working with Kitt is her fluffball pack of dogs.  How stinking cute are they?  They are pretty much 100% fur and I just want to snuggle with them all day long. Don't you?

Check out some of the photos from our session below:

FLASHBACK! This is one of the shots from their 2015 family session when their little man was turning one.  Oh how he has grown!

Brittney Glamour | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

I've got another super fun one to share!  This was my last shoot of 2016 and Brittney knocked it out of the park.  From the minute she showed up with that amazing gold dress, I knew this would be a good one.  

Glamour sessions are my favorite, because seriously, how often do you get to get all done up like this.  It is a perfect chance for some "me" time, especially for us moms who spend more time taking care of our kids than we ever do ourselves.  Brittney and I had a blast during this session.  And while she looks gorgeous in her day to day life too, these photos make me wonder why she's not modeling full time.  This girl is stunning!

If you are interested in booking your own contemporary glamour session, please contact me to set up your complimentary consultation today.

Laura Babywearing | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

It's been a long, stressful couple months.  Since I last posted we packed up all our stuff, sold our house, and moved to El Paso Texas.  As you can imagine,  that was a lot to happen in a very short period of time and I got a bit behind on blogging. 

So it's time to catch up!  Over the next span of weeks, I will be sharing lots of older sessions, mixed in with the newer ones.  This one is from 2016, but its one that I'm still very excited about!  We had so much fun!

At the start of this session I had a very specific vision.  I had recently received a woven wrap (Pavo etini magnolia, in case anyone is interested) that I thought would go perfectly with my newest tulle skirt creation.  I had the image shown above in my head and sought out to create it.  But with such a beautiful family in my studio, I obviously couldn't stop there.  We had a lot of fun with some family shots and individual portraits as well.

Aren't these girls just wonderful?!

If you are interested in your own babywearing or family session, please contact me to set up your complimentary consultation today.

Happy New Year! | Mikaela Joy: Savannah Portrait Photographer

Well, that' s a wrap!  It's the end of 2016 and it's been a heck of a year.  I've worked with so many amazing people this year and, with the addition of my studio space, have been able to really explore the things that I can do with a camera.  

And I'm so excited to do it again.  2017, for me, will be all about change.   I'll be moving to El Paso, Texas and starting completely fresh.  I hope to meet and capture as many beautiful faces as I have in this past year and, like I am now, I hope that as 2018 rolls in I'll be looking back thinking, "Wow, look how much I've grown."

My new year's resolution is simple this year- keep moving forward.  No matter what challenges I face as everything around me changes, I plan to that simple goal.  Onward and upward!

Happy 2017 everyone!

Contact me to book your 2017 portrait session today!