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 at the same company 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. And 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 those fleeting flutters of your baby's kicks. It looks like that dress she outgrew and that stuffed dog that was forgotten 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 certain types of 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 as well as the most genuine. I prefer the word "prompt" over "pose." This just means I'll help you relax 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 to remember your family just as they were.
THIS IS ABOUT WHAT WILL MATTER IN 40 YEARS.
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.
We're not God, and we can't control time. Nor do I believe that the illusion of control is something we should chase after. But what if we could connect to and inspire those who will come after us? Yes, Legacy is paramount. And it 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. It's time to tell a story and pass it on.
01. What kind of photographer are you?
My work has been described as bright, creamy, and candid. My editing is polished and on the warmer side and 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 ultimate 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 I also work a lot in the north metro. I'm happy to recommend one of my favorite spots but love a new idea just as much. Newborn sessions are usually in the home, but not always!
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 right by my house in Maple Grove. It's beautiful and quiet and I love how the plants and trees evolve with the changing seasons.
04. When do newborn sessions occur?
I recommend scheduling a newborn session for when your baby is about two weeks old. I'm more than happy to schedule it sooner or a little later. We can create incredible images no matter what! Just know there are pros and cons of the different ages. This blog post explains.
05. How do you choose which images to deliver?
I look through every image and select the best images to deliver. I'm getting rid of eyes closed and anything that looks mid-sentence. 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 around 15 photos that end up being favorites. These are the ones 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. I deliver plenty more than that so you can choose your favorites.
06. How far out will you book?
About 3-4 months. It's a good idea to book your newborn session or birth photography at least 2 months out to reserve your time window.
07. Can I get my whole gallery in black & white?
I LOVE black & white images. On the pre-session questionnaire, I like to ask if client's are interested in black & white images so I know if I should provide more, but I will always provide at least some images in black & white. Though not always the case, in general, if an image is delivered in black & white it will also be delivered in color.
I take the time to edit black & white images, which is a whole other process than editing an image in color. It's not just about desaturating an image. For that reason, black & white images are separate downloads.
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.