When I was holed up in my little apartment as a new mom, with a chubby, happy baby, and the stifled heart of a creative suffering from postpartum depression, I found Joy Prouty's work.
I knew nothing about photography, or cameras, or editing, but I had a ton of heart, and I knew enough to recognize Joy's ability to capture real heart in her images. Among the elaborate fairy-tale props and glittering celebrities that her work was synonymous with at the time, I saw a deep human connection that struck me in my bones.
It's no secret that I spent the first few years of my own business trying to immolate what Joy was doing so perfectly. I tried desperately, without success, to achieve results through cameras and editing and props, but, as we should all know by now, these are not the marks of an artist. A hard worker? Sure.
I slaved behind my lens and in front of my computer screen to find my voice and skill for years, eventually coming into my own. All the while waiting for the day that I could get Joy to do for my family what I had learned to do for others.
In 2015, Joy took me on as a mentor. I was awkward, lacking confidence and vision, and Joy helped me navigate the waters that I'd been thrown into entering a new role in my career. She didn't tell me what I should do, only what she did- what did and didn't work for her. And she had the ability to see the path that God was/is taking me on and offered a hand to hold as someone who was walking the path already and knew where the snakes and poison ivy lay waiting. She encouraged me, made me feel like the work I was doing was/is important, and helped me understand that I didn't need anyone's permission, not even her's, to live creativly and use my gift to encourage others.
With wisdom and grace, she shared parts of her personal life that made me feel I wasn't alone and pointed me to Jesus, always to Jesus.
I saved my pennies, during he roughest patch my marriage has weathered in it's 8 years and sent Joy a deposit for a family session saying "By the time you take our pictures, I want my husband to be able to hold me again." and she cried for me and prayed for me and let the Lord do His work in us, letting me come to her for guidance and venting when I needed it. And when we met Joy and her family at their home in Austin a few weeks ago, in all of our craziness, Joy snapped away as we were just us. Held together by bits of prickling Grace.
Before we loaded our little family back in our car, headed for Fort Worth for the week to visit friends, Joy asked if I would photograph her and her little family on the porch of their charming little home.
As if having one bucket list item checked off my list, someone also gifted me a seat to Joy's workshop a few weeks after our session. (You can view more from our session on Joy's blog here)
I was burned out after being away with my family for a week in Fort Worth and coming off of a season of slow shooting and never ending ideas for where I want my business to go. I came nervous and expecting and ready to just absorb.
The group was intimate, full of women excited to be with Joy and ready for change in their business. We ate meals together and laughed together and shared our creative blocks in confidence with each other as Joy facilitated an environment that demanded and welcomed creativity.
There are lots of things I learned about my camera, my business, and community during my time with Joy in April, but there is one thing that is predominant above all of it.
The warmth that soaks every ounce of space in the Prouty's home spills out to all who are invited in. It is not something Joy does with her professional knowledge. It is not something that occurs because of Donny's understanding countenance. It doesn't exist by the presence of all the adventure-filled children who run up and down it's halls. This warmth comes from Jesus, always from Jesus, as He uses Joy and her family to encourage, empower, and embrace the families of artists and the women who trust themselves to Joy's guidance. It can be a heavy burden - the responsibility to make yourself available to so many hungry women, but through Joy, Jesus has shown me that He is able to guide us, guide ME in using my gift to glorify Him.
Thank you, again and again and again for capturing my family as we are and allowing God to use you in the way He does. It has blessed me so and I'm honored to call you friend.
In August, Joy and I will be speaking at The Inspired Story. We'd love to see you there <3
images taken on Nikon D750, Nikon F100 with Fuji 400H Pro, Kodak Portra 400, and Ilford 400 Pro