Christmas Vacation | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer


I finally got through all my photos from Christmas vacation: guys can I go back? I'm missing the snow and cozying up by the fireplace with good books and hot buttered rum.  I could very happily live in a permanent state of winter.

I think little man could too.  To him, there is not much exciting than putting on his Lightning McQueen boots and his gloves to go play in the snow.  And really can you blame him?  Who doesn't love a good snowball fight?

We really didn't do much while we visited home (well I didn't, anyway) and that's what made it so perfect.  Winter is the perfect excuse to curl up on the couch like a cat, soaking up the heat from the fire.  

I didn't take as many photos as I thought I would on this trip, but I did take some.  This was pretty much Riley's first experience playing in the snow (besides about 5 minutes when he was 1 and our El Paso snowstorm) so of course I had to document that.  Probably the best part of the whole thing was when he nailed me in the eye with a snowball (my fault, I asked him to throw it at me thinking he wouldn't hit me).  

I also took a LOT of instax photos that I still need to scan, and some holga photos too.  But until I get those all developed and ready, here are some of the digital shots I took.  I could probably photograph little man playing in the snow all day (except that it was flipping cold!)


Kaitlin Family | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer


Who is ready for more photos of Kaitlin and her family?  I shared the film portion of their images in a previous post, but now it's time for the rest.  

Y'all, what can I even say about these images.  It was a beautiful family, in a beautiful location, with gorgeous light.  The whole family was fun, upbeat, and ready to have fun.  This was pretty much an ideal session for me.  I loved working with this family and am so excited with how the images turned out!  I hope I can work with them again in the future.

You can check out the images from this session below: 


If you'd like to schedule your own family portrait session, please contact me for more information and to schedule a complimentary consultation

Hello 2018- 2017 in Review | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer


Wow, we are already halfway through January and I still haven't done a year in review for 2017.  Where does the time go? I think I'm still recovering from my Washington vacation.  A 24 hour drive with toddlers and pets is no joke! But more on that later.

Right now I want to talk about this past year.  2017 has been a good one.  It started with a move to El Paso and ended up being a year of self discovery.  This year was focused on personal projects and getting lots of photos of my family- the important stuff! 

In terms of personal projects, the highlight of this year for me was learning film.  I learned to shoot film in several different formats on several different vintage cameras, and then learned how to process both c41 (color) and black and white film.  It definitely didn't turn out great at first, but learning film has been a really fun adventure that I'm excited to continue next year.  

I'm not going to make a lot of big resolutions about what 2018 has in store.  If I'm perfectly honest, 2018 has started with a decent amount of time spent on the couch, watching movies with family and just being lazy.  And I'm ok with that.  Everyone always goes into the new year with big plans and they rarely turn out.  So instead my plan for the new year is just to go with the flow.  I hope to turn out some really cool personal projects this year, spend lots of time with friends and family, read a lot of good books, go on some adventures, and to try new things whenever I can.

Speaking of adventures, I'm planning some awesome road trips this year and I would LOVE recommendations on places I need to see/photograph.  Anywhere withing 10ish hours of El Paso is game- little man and I are looking forward to some road trips!

Kaitlin Family on Film | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer


I shot my first portrait session on color film recently.

Ok to be honest, I still shot most of it on digital.  I had never used this film before, and I wanted to make 100% sure that we got the shots we needed out of it.  But I shot a bit of Agfa 200 on my Nikon FM as well, and I'm absolutely thrilled with how these images turned out. 

I will be sharing the digital images from this session in a bit, but something about the colors and the grain in these images makes me super happy, so I'm going to share these first.  

This is a cheap film, only a couple dollars for a roll of 35mm, and that combined with the fact that I barely know what I'm doing with c41 (color) developing meant that I had pretty low expectations for how these would turn out.  But Agfa had good reviews online so I figured I'd give it a try.  And look at those colors- gorgeous!  I think this is going to be a film that I keep coming back to.  It renders absolutely beautifully. And of course this family is super cute, so that definitely helps.

Stay tuned for the rest of this session- I'll be sharing shortly.  But until then, here's the rest of the film shots!


Vegas! | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer

Have I told you about my awesome Thanksgiving yet?  

As we are in the midst of our next little vacation to Washington for the holidays, I realize that I'm a little overdue to share the images from our last one.  Over Thanksgiving weekend, little man turned 3, so naturally we took him to Vegas.  That's what everyone does for their third birthday, right?

Just kidding- really Vegas worked out to be a great middle point for meeting up with my family.  My brother in law hooked us up with an Airbnb right by the strip and set everything up where we could spend the holiday and little man's bday together.  Plus he treated the grown ups to a night out on the town, so that was pretty dang cool.

When planning a trip for Vegas I spent a lot of time thinking about photo possibilities.  But when it came down to it I really didn't end up getting my camera out much.  I took some documentary style photos of the kids together, but mostly I just enjoyed the trip.  

My favorites ended up being the black and white photos of the kids playing in the house in their PJs.  I love the realness.  It made me want to shoot a lot more work like this- documentary style photos are fun!

Anyway, here are some photos from the trip. 


Side note-  Get ready for a MAJOR photo overload from this Washington trip.  There is snow here.  And horses.  It's a freaking winter wonderland here and I don't plan on putting my camera down at all!

Leah White Sands | Mikaela Joy: El Paso Portrait Photographer


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.


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!


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


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!



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


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!


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


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: 


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


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!


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.  


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


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.


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:


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.


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


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!


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!