A random click on an Instagram profile several years ago brought me to Joy. Her profile was filled with beauty and a view into life from a different point of view; a round belly with baby number 4 and her adorable children drew me, and a thousand other people, to her. I watched and waited for pictures to fill my screen as they sold nearly everything they had and traveled the country in their trailer. The adventures, the beauty of the country, and the calling of my own heart for a grande adventure kept me captivated. And then over time, bits and pieces of her heart, her raw and real feelings of motherhood, art, and life pierced me and I knew that one day I would meet this kindred spirit and that we would be friends. In December I attended one of her photography workshops on an island in Florida with 17 other women. Joy was in the midst of great depression, but her willingness to just be herself to us changed us all.
And then one afternoon after all the girls had left, I sat on the couch with her and she looked at me and said, "You have something to say, Helen Joy." Those words have given me such freedom this year. Since then she's become a treasured friend to me.
Joy is a crusader of truth. Her passionate desire to create art with the shadows of every day life in her harvest sessions is changing families, it's changing what people want when they hire a photographer, it's slowly changing the world to not pursue perfection one person at a time. Ever since I met her, I've had a burning desire to get some gritty, real life shots for her; a mirror to her beautiful words she writes daily. The crying children, the darkness creeping in and the nose pressed to the window in search of the light. The dirty dishes and the tangled hair. The fight inside for seeds of hope. I knew I could do it. I'm not the most well known or talented photographer in the world, but I had something to say, and Joy let me say it.
There were times I would feel hot tears on my cheeks and look up at Joy and just nod in silence. It was captured. This feeling. This feeling that she feels, that I feel, that women all over the world feel.
My dear friend,
So many of us, like you, are pressed up against the windows, searching for the light. In darkness, your light shines through your open heart my friend. Your heart that you bear to others so willingly and openly. You are a light, but you are a reflection of the true light, the great light. Thank you for what you give to so many and for not letting that light be hidden.