HEY, I'M KARA JOY
And stories are my life.
I first discovered my love for storytelling with writing. I started writing books around the time I learned to ride a bike and published my first book in 2012. In my books I talk about some pretty personal stuff, like my faith, my history of childhood abuse, and my experiences as a new mom. Photography is really just another way of telling stories. And just like my writing, I want my photos to be real, vulnerable, and filled with emotion.
AUTHOR, DOCUMENTARIAN & MOM. SOCIAL INTROVERT, DEEP THINKER, & LOYAL TO A FAULT.
I went to school for Biomedical Engineering and worked in the medical device industry for seven years before transitioning to being a full-time mom (there's that loyal part in action). I went out with a bang! Translation: I made sure to have my wisdom teeth removed while I still had full-time child care. I may not have gained a lot of free-time when I quit my corporate job, but I did gain a couple of models who will work for candy.
Because I wanted to practice my photography, I not only found myself photographing them more, I found myself remembering them more.
Time is a force to be reckoned with. It's relentless, never slowing, come what may. A photograph is a concrete reminder to slow down and breathe them in.
Time may be unbreakable, but a photograph delivers comfort. It sucks you up and spills you out into a time of coos and first smiles. A photo has the power to hit the pause button as your son pours a bucket of water over his head. You can hear the giggles, feel the splatter.
A photograph feels like the fleeting flutters of your baby's kicks. It looks like that dress she outgrew and that stuffed dog that was left at a gas station on a family road trip. It sounds like the sweeping of goldfish crumbs and the soft weeping in the wee hours of the night as you nurse, so in love, yet so, so tired. Photos throw you back into the moment with more force than a nostalgic smell.
AWARDED BEST FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER IN MAPLE GROVE
I've tried very hard on numerous occasions to put myself in a box, but every time I attempt it I pull a muscle or run out of duct tape.
I love sugar, but I hate sugar-coating anything. I’m a social introvert. (I like people. I also like it when they go away.) I’m an empathetic engineer. A vegetarian who has no problem slaying some fish. I have a deep affection for pizza. I also run for fun. And I know what it's like to be a full-time working mom and a stir-crazy stay-at-home mom. I've never fit easily into a box. But that's okay. Boxes are boring, and I won't try to put you into one either.
This is me holding a blue marlin that I caught off the coast of Koh Lipe (Thailand). I carried it straight to the hotel kitchen, and they cooked it up for my husband and I that night!
MINIMALIST, SPONTANEOUS, LAID-BACK
I'm a minimalist photographer who loves to embrace spontaneity. The unexpected often leads to the most epic shots and well as the most genuine. I prefer the word "prompt" over "pose." This just means I'll coach you and give you ideas on how to interact with each other while steering clear of stiff positioning. My goal is not to have everyone smiling perfectly. You deserve natural photos and to remember your family just as they were.
THIS IS ABOUT WHAT WILL MATTER IN 40 YERAS.
I was named after my Great Grandma, Joy Carrie. I've been told she was a wonderful woman, but I know little about her. I remember her only through the distant eyes of an eight-year-old and a blue-background, posed portrait taken of her in her eighties.
LEGACY IS PARAMOUNT & CONNECTION SHOULDN'T BE LIMITED BY TIME.
I understand little of who she was. I wish I knew more. I long to understand what happened in her life to bring her to a place of faith, joy, and loveliness in her old age. I wish I knew the whole story. What I hope to give my children, grandchildren, and beyond is the gift of story, the gift of knowing who I was and what I stood for.
We live in a time when it's easier than ever to pass on a story, yet often we fail to recognize our own significance in the lives of those who come after us or we wait until it's too late. The time for telling your story is now.
01. What kind of photographer are you?
My work has been described as bright, creamy, and candid. My editing is polished and warm while remaining natural. I combine lifestyle photography with documentary storytelling to capture genuine reactions and real connections. Everyone standing nicely and smiling at the camera is not my goal.
02. Where will my session be?
I primarily work with natural light, and I shoot on-location, usually in the Minneapolis area. I'm based in Maple Grove, so about 40% of my sessions are in Maple Grove and 60% in Minneapolis. I'm happy to recommend one of my favorite spots but love a new idea just as much. Newborn sessions are shot in the home.
03. Where do you prefer working?
I love shooting newborns in Minneapolis! I lived in South Minneapolis for seven years, and it still feels like home to me. While I now reside in the burbs, my heart remains unconverted. The houses in Minneapolis have character. The people value gardens, good food, and a little grunge. And I love it all.
I also really enjoy shooting outdoor family sessions in a field in Maple Grove. The fields are beautiful and quiet and I love how they evolve with the changing seasons.
04. When do newborn sessions occur?
I recommend scheduling a newborn session for when your baby is 2-3 weeks old. I'm more than happy to schedule it sooner or a little later, but there are pros and cons to doing so. This blog post explains why.
05. How do you choose which images to deliver?
I look through every image and select the best images to deliver. I'm looking at focus and composition, but I'm also looking for the images that represent both my artistic style and your family well.
In my experience with working with families and having professional photos of my own family taken, there are usually a handful that end up being favorites. These are the photos that end up in frames and on Christmas cards. I've found that 15-30 images is just the right amount to include in a collection for a standard session. Anything more than that, and the images typically end up sitting on a hard drive.
06. How far out will you book?
About four months. It's a good idea to book your newborn session or birth photography about three months out to reserve your time window.
07. Why don't you offer mini sessions anymore?
I've learned that mini sessions just aren't conducive to my style. Mini sessions are fast-paced and budget oriented, whereas my sessions are easy going and connection oriented. I've found that the time limit on mini sessions create stress for my clients and also makes it more difficult for me to connect with my clients in the way that they deserve.
I really enjoy taking the time to know my clients and make sure that they are comfortable. It's also important to me that my clients care about the art of photography enough to spend a little more time on the process. In short, mini sessions encourage the exact opposite of what I'm trying to accomplish.
A FEW MORE
A FEW FUN FACTS
I LOVE TRAVELING ALONE.
I worked at a glacier guiding business in New Zealand for about six months. This was after I backpacked around NZ for a month by myself and completely fell in love with both the people and the place.
ADRENALINE & I ARE FRIENDS.
Here are some things that have given me a good adrenaline rush over the years: Skydiving, bungy jumping, parasailing, hang gliding, and (attempting) backcountry hiking in the remote mountains of Alaska while pregnant.