• Julie of Julie Anna's Joy

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

When I launched my first blog post back in February I had no clue what this year would look like….this year, my “lucky ’19.” There is no way I could’ve seen what choices I would ultimately make due to the climate of my “day job” career of fifteen plus years. But there’s also no way I would’ve predicted the support and provisions made for me through my life as a photographer and beyond

Ringing in 2019 with my family

The last few months have been a whirlwind. Ones I will not soon forget. They are days and months full of raw emotion, life choices, big decisions, and unwavering faith. I am reminded of the peace I have in the God I serve in these days. If you don’t have that peace, I want it for you--- yes, you--- whoever stumbles upon my little corner of the internet world. If you don’t know anything about faith or God or the love I experience through knowing Him, just start with a prayer--- it is a powerful tool. While I'm not placing the same value on it, music is a powerful tool too. The songs I’ve claimed for this season in life are “Symphony” from Switch, and “Fighting For Me” by Riley Clemmons. If you’re going through a time of uncertainty or trying to figure out what your next right thing is, do yourself a favor and listen to these songs with a careful ear and an open heart.

I did not make any promises when starting this blog that there would be a central focus or general topic I would cover. This is probably a good thing, because it’s evolved to be a general hodgepodge of thoughts, a vulnerable look at me on the other side of the camera, and an occasional glimpse behind the scenes of what provides me this space in the world of photography.

Speaking of which, the past few months I have been busy with photography sessions and was even featured in a new publication. From traveling to Florida to do my nephew’s epic senior session, a lifestyle shoot on a ranch with a real life cowboy, to multi-generational family shoots, to fall and holiday minis--- this gift I have been given to use my camera as a tool which highlights the good in life is something I DO NOT take for granted. Not one bit, not ever…. I’m so thankful for life as a photographer, and the opportunity and light it has brought me and to so many others.

While I’m still and will forever being trying to figure things out, here’s what I know to be true. 1.) Bold faith is rewarded. 2.) Don’t rely on others to make choices you are convicted to make for yourself. 3.) Don’t worry about what others think (an anthem of my life really). 4.) Life worth living is on the other side of fear.

If my words have challenged you, or helped you in any way please let me know. I like to think the authenticity I am sharing here is not to be lost. Here’s to one day at a time, to strong character, to steadfast faith, and the love of an art form that brings the human experience to life.

Here are some behind the scenes images from the past few months and few of my favorites I was able to capture.

#ourdailybread #switchmusic #rileyclemmons #mdmountainside #christianphotographer #capturinglifespreadingjoy

www.odb.org https://www.life.church/switch-music/ https://www.rileyclemmons.com/ www.mdmountainside.com/weddings

  • Julie of Julie Anna's Joy

I went a month with no social media. The apps were wiped away from my phone, and I cut myself off from that world cold turkey for 30 days.

Anyone in my close circle might perceive me as one who is on social media less, or even on my phone less than the typical consumer of it in my demographic. They are probably right. I’ve actually been known to receive a text in the evening, and ask the receiver if it would be okay to respond back in full in the morning since I was “done with being on my phone for the day.” I know….a little odd, but at least I’m honest. For my personal Facebook page, other than sharing about my kids, music, glimpses of my faith life, and my love for the grocery store Aldi--- there’s not much there besides that. I take minimal time scrolling looking at friends’ feeds, but I still invest my time in it. I like seeing photos of my friends, students I worked with at the college who are now grown with their own families, or thriving in their field of business. I enjoy catching the latest Trey Kennedy or John Crist video, and reading my brother’s words of wisdom presented through catchy memes. I enjoy seeing other photographers in the biz rocking awesome sessions as well. But, let’s face it--- it’s a time suck. The main reason I wanted to get off of social media was to see what else I could do with the time I give to it. If even to be still and allow time for quiet.

Lately I’ve had a few people ask me how that went. Honest as always, here it goes….

1.) I didn’t miss it.

Well, I mostly didn’t miss it. I had a few conversations in my day to day that referenced posts and in those moments I felt a little out of the loop. A day or so after my son’s birthday I was curious to read up on a scheduled Facebook post to see his birthday wishes—so I admittedly did cheat to see a few of those. That day was my slip up. All in all, it wasn’t hard to stay away from social media and I realized what a time suck it truly is. The key to making it easy, DELETE those apps.

2.) It’s such a time suck!

I know you all know this, but when you step away from social media completely--- you realize even 5 minutes here or 2 minutes there add up. A report from 2017 on socialmediatoday.com shared, the average American spends 2 hours PER DAY on social media! No shame if you are, but for me -- I can’t help but think, if its 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or 3 hours a day—how else could we be spending our time?

You know that report you get about how much time you spend on your phone? Social media can often be the culprit of many of those minutes for sure. If you delete social media apps, you’re still using your phone, but for other things (like talking to someone….gasp!). For me, I was checking email more, my weather app, Amazon shopping of course (curse you Amazon Prime), but mostly I was finding I used my phone for accessing music and my biggest unexpected joy of the summer—audiobooks!

I love a good podcast (shout out to “That Sounds Fun” and one of my favorite authors/podcasters, Annie F. Downs), but found myself consuming audiobooks at a pretty rapid pace during my social media drought. I devoured This is Me by Chrissy Metz of This is Us fandom, discovered Sarah Jakes-- and listened to her life put into the form of the audiobook Lost and Found, dabbled a bit in Rachel Hollis’ latest best seller, and followed Tsh Oxenreider through the streets of Turkey in Notes from a Blue Bike. Consuming books in audio form is now my jam! If your locally library provides access to apps like Hoopla (do yourself a favor and check it out), you’re able to consume audiobooks for free…score!

I love to write more than I love to read, but this break from social media breathed a little time and life into me to do a little of both, even if it was in moderation.

Here's a thought—once you get over the habit of picking up your phone first thing in the morning to scratch the social media itch, you can be liberated! Use that time to EAT BREAKFAST, read, pray, or be on time for work—or for me….closer to on time (the not a morning person struggle is real). I read books, like ACTUAL books. I felt more patient with my children, more “in” on conversations, and contributed to keeping the eternal laundry pile down to a small mound vs. a mountain at our home.

3.) Everyone and everything will still be there when you return.

Don’t believe me? Try it.

I can hear you, “oh I can’t do that--- social media freeze for a month? No way…not me!” Well, how about a week? A day? An hour (for you straight up addicts)? Start little and see how you can use your time without the constant draw to your phone. It starts with deleting apps….cut off the vein for the drug to go in….am I right?

My people were there on the other side of my social media break, and yours will too. No one is going anywhere. If you operate a business--- no matter how big, you can do this. “Oh, but Julie I have 10K followers and I’ve worked hard for my social media presence.” To that I say--cool. Seriously, kudos to you, sincerely-- I know that time investment is hard to step away from. But, they’ll be there….I believe your followers will remain the same or pretty darn close. Here’s the honest truth--- do you remember MySpace or Vine….both are GONE! If you spent hours and hours creating content and videos and it’s wiped away, what now? What do you have? It’s seriously not worth the stress people. Don’t let modern business expectations, what you “should do,” or what’s socially the norm get in the way of your sanity. Think big picture, think mental health, think valuing your life.

4.) Getting back on social media after a month off is a drag.

No really, it is! I put Instagram on my phone the day after my social media experiment was up. I thought to share a photo of me taken while on vacation to re-emerge into social media world, so I did. But now, I don’t feel drawn to Instagram very much. The daily need to keep up with real time posts and check in multiple times a day….I don’t need it.

Facebook went back on my phone two days after my month span was up. I had it on my phone long enough to upload some photos for my circle to see of some memories from the past month but I’ve since deleted Facebook on my phone again altogether.

I’m applying what I’ve learned from this one month away from social media experiment and applying it to daily life. For me, that looks like not putting so much value in it but still staying connected. It looks like keeping Instagram on my phone to do some updates easily for JAJP. It means keeping the Facebook app OFF my phone to avoid falling down that rabbit hole--- even if it means uploading it when I want to easily access Facebook to upload photos from my camera reel. It sounds like a lot of inconvenience to avoid an app, I know. But I’ve learned time is worth so much more than how I’ve treated it.

If sharing this personal feedback from a month of from social media sparks anything in you to apply it to your life then I’m glad to have taken the time to share.

Wishing all of you out there who take a minute to read a bit into my word nothing but the best. I have some work to do on session edits, personal photographs from travel and an announcement about what fall will look like for Julie Anna’s Joy Photography. Stay tuned….


#socialmediabreak #anniefdowns #thatsoundsfun #treykennedy #johncrist #sarahjakesroberts #rachelhollis #tshoxenreider #selfcare #fearless

  • Julie of Julie Anna's Joy

A few days ago I started my day scheduling social media post for JAJP. Originally, I had planned to plant this particular image on the Thursday before Father’s Day for a classic #tbt post (I know it’s of me, but I promise there’s a tie in). As I began to write I realized I had waaayyy too much on my mind to be short and sweet, so those of you who enjoy these blog posts insiders….this one is for you (and also for my husband)!

When you stumble across a photo of yourself in your most authentic state of happiness it should be cherished. For me, this one is. This particular image was taken in the fall of 2015, at this time I was just getting started in making my love of photography public through the then recent creation of JAJP. For those of you who remember what julieannasjoy.com used to look like, this image was on the home page. In 2015, I was slowly figuring this photography business world out and you had to start somewhere….so as another fun “throwback” insider, here is what the site looked like then.

I am reminded from images of my public photography life that it takes the support of those around you to STAY in such a saturated field like photography. There are haters and comparers, those who have been doing it for decades, and those whose local photography Instagram account went live last week. There are strangers who see you being vulnerable in an art that you love and just don’t get it. However, there are also peers who cheer you on from afar and rally around a community of creatives at all stages of the journey—that part I love. I’ve been blessed to have these strangers, who end up being “online friends” say the kindest things and constantly engage with my posts (I see you and I value you). There are those in the online education community from KJ All Access that inspire me weekly and feed my process. There are friends and family that take seconds from their day to click “like,” refer their friends to me, or even stop me during my day job to say how much they enjoyed the last shoot I shared on Facebook. These people will never know how such a small outwardly sign of support can change the mindset of my day. But, the love and support of a spouse is vital (in my experience) to making it in an ever evolving industry and staying true to your own vision.

So, back to the photo above….I am authentically happy in this photo with my then 5 year old son on my back, and camera in hand. My husband took the image, and was making me laugh—plus I remember my son, Lawson jumped on my back out of nowhere! This photo makes me reflect and think on happiness and my little business here. Why nearly 4 years later have I not fizzled out, have I not stopped? The answer--- it’s like anyone who does what they do despite the odds, you do it because you love it—not because you’re worried about what’s “on trend,” or what others are doing. My husband knows how to support me and cheer me on. He knows I can’t be forced into doing mini-sessions with cheesy props just for extra income. He knows I always do the opposite of what seems logical. I’m a someone who lives and makes choices on instinct and observation, what seems most true to myself, what can allow my clients to feel the same, and not what seems to be the obvious path.

Behind the scenes capture-- Rick helping with a veil shot and noticing all the details

As we approach Father’s Day and are already deep in the month of June, I want you all to know my husband is how he seems (if you are in our community here in Western Maryland you know what I mean). He is Superman! On top of all of his daily tasks, mile high to-do lists, and big dreams--- he sees me at my lowest of lows and highest of highs and is simply amazing. He stays with me on the roller-coaster and delicately listens, shows patience, and grace. He picks up a camera, learns technique, and second shoots weddings because it is his way to show support. He’s the first person I show my iPhone camera snaps of my DSLR viewer screen from the parking lot after a shoot (yes, I do this--- people, I get excited about your sessions, what can I say). He is my number one here on this planet.

In YOUR days, I hope you have moments of authentic happiness. I hope you have tangible evidence of a happy moment. I encourage you to stop the selfies with the faces you think make you look put together or “happy.” Instead, I challenge you to ask a friend or family member to photograph YOU in a candid moment when they simply see you in your most authentic and happy state. This life is hard, complex, full of bad news, and overwhelming calendars. I am thankful this image crossed my path and brought me to a place of reflection and appreciation for what I have and who I have next to me always. I am inspired to look back on my work and pull out moments of true, honest happiness I have captured. Here are some of those moments to share with all of you….

Cheers to happiness. To days of less stress, the moments that make you YOU, and the people who cheer on your authentic self! #happiness #authenticphotography #beyou

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