As a women's portrait photographer and a self-proclaimed self portrait enthusiast, you're sure to discover beauty from every perspective browsing Emily Joy's work (@emilyjoyphotos).  Always searching for that elusive perfect natural light, Emily takes great care in creating connection between portrait and viewer.  She implements Mextures in ways that expand the character and emotion of every capture.  We caught up with Emily recently to learn a bit more about her work and her creative process.  Read along!

Hello, I’m Emily Joy. I’m 22 years old. I’m an obsessive learner and if I find something I want to excel at it becomes a compulsion to get better. I tend to hop around a lot. I’m originally from Illinois, attended three different colleges, moved to Italy on a whim, and came to Phoenix for a guy. I was incredibly introverted like most artists tend to be, but I'm learning to be an extrovert.

How did you first get into photography?

I took an intro to digital photography and Photoshop course when I was 16. Then, I interned with a local photographer at 17. I wasn't particularly interested in photography until I started getting okay at it when I was 18. That fall I went to college and legally registered my business. Since then I haven't been able to stop shooting.

Why are you interested in photography and what keeps you interested?

I have an obsession with light. It’s the most incredible thing to find the right light. I’m drawn to spaces with lots of natural light without color contamination. Currently, I am obsessed with the bathroom light in my apartment. The walls are white and there is one frosted window. The shower door makes a lovely backdrop.

Self portraits also keep me interested. I think getting into a flow state is necessary to create good art and to stay sane. It’s easiest for me to get into a flow when I don’t have other people around and I can just focus.

When you are out shooting, how much of it is instinctual versus planned?

I almost never plan shoots in advance because it gives me anxiety. I tend to find inspiration from a piece of clothing or a person with interesting features or a spot of amazing light, and then, I work from there. It’s all very impromptu... especially for personal work. When it comes to client shoots they tend to be planned lightly. I’ll organize what outfits will be worn for what settings and where we need to go ahead of time to be efficient. I’m very go-with-the-flow and open to spontaneity and suggestion.

How would you describe your style?

My style is very classical, elegant, and clean. I tend to edit very painterly and only use natural light. 

What is it that you want to communicate with your work?

I want viewers to feel connected with my subjects. Human connection is so important, and observing and capturing that is incredible. I want people to get stuck just staring at an image. I want to communicate sensuality without vulgarity. I just want to make beautiful things. 

What does your editing process generally look like?

My editing process:

  1. Cull in Lightroom
  2. Edit favorite shots in Photoshop
  3. Send to my phone to edit with Mextures
  4. Post to Instagram 

If I’m printing the photos, I’ll take the image from step 2 into Photoshop and use the Mextures Premium overlays instead of the app. Almost everything I edit goes through some sort of Mextures addition. The textured painterly look is a part of my style.

How specifically do you use Mextures in that process?

Mextures is my last step in editing after Photoshop and Lightroom. I always do some sort of tweak before I post my images.

I was using the premade formulas a lot when I first started using Mextures. I've found that since most of the formulas are intended for use on landscapes I make them all around more subtle for portraits. I started making different tweaks to those formulas and eventually started developing my own formulas. Now I have a few really solid formulas that I've made to fit my style in my repertoire.  It's pretty quick to get into the app, find one that is close to what I want, do minor tweaks, and export. My most used textures (they go on darn near every single photo) are Yololomo and Franklin. 

Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?

What makes Mextures so appealing to me is how quickly I can edit with the app compared to doing the same thing in Photoshop. Theoretically, I could photograph loads of textures and do the whole process in Photoshop, but that process is inconvenient and time consuming. The preset formulas are also particularly helpful because I can hop on the app and try a few things out before I decide the direction I go in. A few tweaks later I export it. 

Would you be up for sharing a few of your formulas?

Classical - LNIQDKZ - This is a brightening/warming formula. Good for most lighting situations.

Clean - MNWBTPM - This is a go-to for simple, clean editing. 

Lace - FCYMXPD - This is a sort of film edit.

Gemini - BMJFKUH - This gives earthy colored life to photos.

What has been your favorite piece to create so far?

I found Mextures about two years ago. I was doing mostly outdoor portraits and I was only using the app sporadically. Last year, I moved into a new apartment with very dramatic, directional light in the living room, and I began shooting more indoors due to it being summer in Arizona. Combining Mextures and the dramatic light gave my work a renaissance look which I have since been obsessed with. I love this because it was the start of a shift in my style and because it looks like it ought to be hanging over a fireplace in a European castle.

How has social media played a role in your work?

I sometimes stare at my photos so long that my eyes cross. Social media is helpful because it offers me the input of the masses. It helps me decide what is my favorite or most interesting shot or shoot, and that impacts how I go about shooting/editing future sessions. It’s a very helpful feedback loop.

Who are the people that have most inspired your work or people you feel have mentored you in your process?

The biggest influences on my photography are Sue Bryce and Emily Soto. They’re both incredible portrait photographers who have a very classic, painterly style. I’ve learned a lot from the two of them on their CreativeLive courses. CreativeLive in general was a major game changer for me. I learned so much of the business aspect of being a photographer as well as the art.

Take in more of Emily’s gorgeous portrait work here!