Finding Joy

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So last year I started reading again! I got through 4 books. This year I’m hoping to challenge my reading by finding more in-depth books on topics I find interesting! I thought I might share just in case yall were interested! Here are my top ten books I want to read this year listed by interest.





Own your past change your future






I found Dr. John Delony by listening to his podcast  The Dr. John Delony Show. I found myself looking forward to his new episodes because he had a compassionate approach to helping people solve problems. The advice he gave was really easy to apply. He recently came out with a book and if it’s anything like his podcast it will be worthwhile. If you have past trauma or want to learn how to communicate better this is a great book!





The Personal MBA


So I have to admit I bought this book already! I was curious because I have been looking for a way to better understand business to help guide how I improve my work. So far I am loving this book because it is written for the average person who doesn’t have any business school knowledge. I enjoy the conversational tone and I really like how it has practical help. If you need business understanding but don’t wanna take another course check this out.






Never Split the Difference




This title grabbed my eye because I don’t like confrontation! It makes my heart race and my palms sweat. In the name of scaring myself this year (read that blog here.) I decided maybe learning about negotiating is a great way to learn how to express my needs without feeling like world war 3 will break out.






Your Brain’s Not Broken




ADHD has become a hot topic lately but is personal for me. Only recently understanding how it has affected my life I am interested in learning how to move forward into working with my brain and body instead of against it. This book had a lot of good reviews so it may be a blind read.






The Prosperous Coach



I may be showing my hand here but I am interested in coaching. This is a long-term plan as I would love to be able to work from home one day. I searched for one of the best books on the topic and saw this one mentioned several times. I am curious about how I can improve my skills in working with people.






Getting Things Done




I have believed the lie that unhealthy stress was an indicator that you accomplished a lot. I am realizing more and more that if I want to live a life that has room to enjoy my family, fun, and my community I need to manage better. This book stood out to me as a great start, especially that uh…stress free… part!







Lean In





After taking the Katelyn James Business course last year I realized that regardless of whether I want to admit it or not I am a leader. I lead my daughter, my friends, and my clients. I wanted to look to see the thought process behind being a leader and this book was highly recommended.











We all have it! Influence. I am not a natural salesperson I would say. I don’t like convincing people to do things but I have learned that selling is a life skill you need. Part of selling is influence and persuasion. I would like to understand the basics of marketing and why people decide how they do it. I probably won’t leave a pushy saleswoman but I think I have something to gain on this topic. 





Built to Last



Operating a small business is not just so I can have a cool hobby. I truly desire to one day spend my time not only making a living enjoying what I do but being free to help those in need. I want to build a lasting business so that I can do this for as long as possible! 


Blue Ocean Strategy


Business is a huge theme for me this year! Running a one-woman side hustle here I have realized that I can’t compete on the same level as a business with a bigger team. This book looks like a great addition to learning how to build a brand!






Bonus Book!


The E myth



The E Myth looks interesting because I have heard the staggering statistics about how most small businesses don’t last. I wanna have the best shot at it so reading this may highlight some of my pitfalls!


What books are you thinking about reading this year and why? Tell me by following me on IG @bethanyjphotography. You can also reach me by emailing me below.

Finding Joy

Welcome to my blog. Here I am myself. I am an artist who shares her photography, her family, and more! I called this blog choosing joy because 1. That’s my middle name and 2. Finding joy when life is tough has been a journey for me. More often I am choosing to look for the bright side even when I don’t see it. If you are an artist, a parent, a small business or all three then you will like being around here!

Share your Joy Journey with me by emailing You might be featured in my newsletter!

Your Joy Journey can be something funny or moving your story of overcoming or what brings you joy.


If you have become a remote worker then this is the blog post for you. Usually I photograph families and events but all of my families are full of hardworking people who are juggling many roles everyday working from home and parenting. With zoom being more important than ever and Linked In being the new way to connect or job search a great headshot is one of the many tools used to put your best foot forward!

As a photographer I answer the question “Should my photos be Professional or Casual?” with one word. Yes! Both! 2020 dramatically shifted expectations of the work place. If you went to work in your PJs and a dressy top then you know the drill. Now there’s more room for personality to be expressed and that is great! Now even with more casual environments there are still some good practices to maintain when updating your portrait. Whether you hire a professional or make your own studio at home. Here are 5 ways you can balance a professional presence with your casual, creative and fun personality. This applies to your business, Tik Tok, and Instagram too!

Good Light

Lighting is everything! A professional headshot demonstrates care for quality. The same way you take care in presentation of yourself reflects how people believe you will care for their business. The best way to add great lighting is with outdoor light near a window. I will never stop shouting about how great window light is! I would avoid direct sunlight as that will make you squint and create harsh shadows but facing a window is a great start! If you wanna go pro, breakout a white foam board or aluminum foil to add some full light by having a friend angle sun indirectly onto you.

Self portrait using the sun shot on my IPhone. was going for of a model vibe here but you get the point sunlight rules!

Taken in a living room with window light!

Eye Height – Open Posture

In our attempt to look professional we can sometimes over compensate and look stiff and closed off. I see this the most in the crossed arm pose or the hands in pockets pose. No hate if you prefer to pose that way but if you wanna create a posture of friendliness try a few of the poses below. If you don’t like how you look in photos try having the camera be at eye height. Selfies taken from above tend to give the viewer a birds eye view. We associate this with child likeness and innocence. From below the viewer has a worms eye view. They look “up” to you it communicates dominance and power. At eye level you are viewed as an equal. Think of photographing yourself at eye height as being the equivalent of looking someone in the eye when you give them a handshake.

Photography by Bethany J. Photography featured on

Photograph by Bethany J. Photography for

Smile or No Smile

Depending on your professional taste or position smiling is up to you. If you do smile, make it a big one! Give your best smile, the one that, makes your eyes light up and wrinkle. I am telling you whenever people attempt a “perfect” smile usually it looks more like you are gritting your teeth. I know it’s not easy to take your picture when you see all your perceived imperfections but what I see is a genuine person with a welcoming face. A bright smile is far more inviting than a perfect model face.

Photography by Bethany J. Photography for


This one is not anything fancy but it’s a good refresher. Check your background. A background busy with anything you don’t want to stand out is important. This could mean not using your cool Florida vacation pic as the background. It could also mean not showcasing your laundry. It’s not that we haven’t all been there, but let’s let YOU be the only focus.

Creative Twist

Make your portrait your own with a creative twist! Create a single tone palette to create a colorful eye catching pop. Try dramatic lighting or a really close crop of your face. Build a background that features what you are good at. Show it to a couple of friends to see what they think about your skills!

Photography by Bethany J. Photography for @AdakuInspires

Photograph by Bethany J. Photography for

If you are not the DIY type then message me I am happy to collaborate with you on a headshot that showcases you. If you do try these tips send me a message below I would love to see the creativity!


10 Tips for Authentic Pro-Quality Photos of Your Kids

Tested in real life to help save your sanity!


We hear all too often that our kids grow up too fast! It is true and that is why I don’t judge you for wanting five million pictures of your kids ( No matter the age!) However, I am sure you know that what may be started as a cute idea can turn into a nightmare when kids are… well…kids! They want to roll, mess their clothes up, frown, and make silly faces, and you just want ONE nice picture to prove things aren’t nearly as crazy as they seem! That is where I enter. I have been photographing kids for  7 years. From school kids to teens and I have learned some things about getting photos that not only look good but capture the personality and growth of your children. To me, the purpose of photography is to remember. To enjoy what life has for today because tomorrow always brings change. Hopefully, you find these pro tips helpful and learn to enjoy capturing memories of your kids!

1. Change Your Expectations

Was my 6 month old gonna sit longer than three seconds for a picture? No. The world is way too interesting to sit and not investigate! When you take pictures of your kids, lower the goal. A three-year-old may sit still but might struggle to look at the camera. Meet the kid where they are at. For example, I like to get my phone or camera out before even mentioning I want a picture. I usually snap before trying to get their attention to see if I want a better background or lighting. I focus more on taking as many pics as possible after making the kid laugh rather than waiting for them to give me a great smile. I usually can get ONE shot of them smiling. If they are running I have them run at me. If they want to play I have the parent engage and snap while he is having fun. The goal is to keep them happy long enough to get a good shot. Sitting perfectly still while posing is the opposite of fun and nothing ruins a picture like a grumpy-faced kid who is genuinely not enjoying himself!


Here is a pro tip. Don’t have your kid say “CHEESE!” This results in the kid looking terrified! The best smile is a real smile and having them yell something silly works better. A tip I picked up from my friend Rebekah who is a rock star with kids, is to have them call you a silly name. It goes something like this. “Hey, Sarah say “Cookies!” when she enthusiastically says ” Cookies!” Make a funny face and say “HEY, did you call me a COOKIE!?”  Usually, the kid laughs and says no or continues to call you a cookie the whole day. Meanwhile, start taking pics like crazy those giggles are priceless! For really little kids you can pretend they are invisible and ask where they are. I promise they think you are a goofball for it, but it works! I have had many a 3-year-old laugh when I pretended they disappeared!


3. Let Them Play


Another way to get smiles is to involve play. Try challenging them to do a handstand or climb a fence. These pics are cute and fun for your child. Even in a studio wooden blocks are neutral but a great way to keep little hands busy. Blowing bubbles or even taking pictures of their siblings are all fun ways to get smiles going. 

 4. Get down on their level.

One of the most important keys to really catching authentic portraits is to get eye level with the kids. We don’t usually look at kids on their level. When you do you just see more into their personality. It is a great way to reconnect. You would be amazed at how much a face changes when you shoot at eye level instead of looking down. Use the moment to encourage your kid and remind them they are seen and they matter.

5. Don’t Force It.

Kids experience many emotions and it’s not ever at a convenient time.  I cannot count the number of times kids have decided that this photo session was the moment to start crying. I can also not count the number of subconscious adults who have refused to pose for the camera because they aren’t in the mood. Long story short- it is an everyone problem. Forcing a child or teen who doesn’t want to take a photo rarely works out in the end. They usually look upset and sad, the opposite of how we want photos to look. Sometimes offering to take a picture with the child helps. Maybe they want a toy or need a break. Photos can wait, offer what they need at the moment. I have sometimes been able to reengage kids for photos by having them hug or kiss mom or dad. Other times I sit and play and have them show me what they are doing. I also try involving the kids by having them pose how they want to. With teenagers, they may feel subconscious about their looks or what other people may think. Allowing them to be in control of their look and pose is helpful. Sometimes they may be ok with a further back pose or partially covering that pimple with a strategic hand! You know your kid best, if you want authenticity then you have to make room for the very real moments that kids have. If you force your kid to smile or pose the picture will show it, you can’t fake genuine smiles!

6. Take Selfies Together

Mom’s this is for you! Often times we like to take photos but refuse to be IN the photos. Maybe you haven’t met your weight loss goal or hate your hair. Maybe you are like me and have dark circles under your eyes because you were up at 4 am with a very hungry baby. I get it because I go through it. Hear me out. Your kids copy you. They notice when you try and hide because there is something you are insecure about. For the sake of your memories, your kids and your spouse take pictures with your kids anyway! Not only will you appreciate these fleeting moments years later but you are telling yourself you are worth more. Your value is not in looking like the perfect mom. Your value is not in your weight. You are worthy to be seen, without you those kids wouldn’t be. Be involved and you will find your own kids learning that they don’t have to be perfect to make memories. You also will get your kids used to having fun on camera, it is a win all around!


7. Get Close

If you are feeling adventurous and want truly artistic photos of your kids change up the distance you take pictures from. Get right up in that face or focus just on the toes. All those details that you love make great collages over the years. For babies, I always love the hands, feet, and face. Not gonna lie capturing those details is easier said than done.

8. Think Neutral

I am a Zillenial mom lol. That means I love my IG-worthy photos and neutrals. While yes it is a trend right now there is good logic to incorporating neutral colors and backgrounds into your photos. As a photographer, I choose neutrals because they are timeless. Black, white, beige, and other natural colors are kind to multiple skin tones and elevate the design of an image. Additionally, neutral colors help to keep the focus where it belongs, on the facial expressions of your kiddos. Of course, this is completely subjective to your taste but it may help if you want to build collections of images across time.


9. Lighting

As a photographer, I spend a lot of time thinking about lighting. I am in fact a light (photo) writer (grapher.) Even without a fancy camera knowing a little about lighting makes that average selfie look amazing! During the day try and photograph your kids facing or standing sideways to a window. Light is flattering and diffused and soft. If you are outdoors and it’s super sunny try to find shade. The harsh shadows usually just make us squint. At night play with a single source and solid background like a lamp or light from a doorway. 

10. Be the Observer

I know, I know I just said to get involved! Take selfies!  I just want to add another technique to your arsenal. I have watched a lot of parents fuss over kids and siblings to get them to take the perfect photo. This sort of works but I think that sibling and family dynamics are unique and sometimes you can catch them if you watch. I see this a lot in older siblings reaching out to fix their little sister’s hair. Sometimes sitting back and observing the way your kids are can create some great moments that you will cherish forever. Maybe you catch your kids hanging upside down or building a tent let that be the backdrop! Kids are creative, lean into seeing who they are and you will see that reflected in their photos.


Those are my top tips for taking authentic family photos of your kids with a little bit of a professional edge. Have you heard of these tips before? Have others to add? I would love to know! I truly love what I do. I enjoy watching kids just be their chaotic selves. It’s easy to forget what being carefree felt like and I hope while you are taking all those photos you are getting involved. At the end of the day, it is about making memories of our families. After all, they really do grow up so fast!


5 Ways I Bring Back Sanity After the Holidays

Relighting your lamp!


October and December are my busy season for photography. There are fall sessions and holiday sessions and parties and preparations for Christmas(I wanna sleep just writing this.) When January sneaks up and surprises me each year, it’s time for a little hibernation and re-examination.  If you are time blind like me, meaning you struggle to grasp how you are allotting your time and resources, I have some tips that might help you refocus your time for the new year.



Prioritize What Matters Most

Before I rush into the new year with excitement, I take time to review my previous year and look at the goals from then. I look at what worked and what didn’t. Then I look at my priorities and decide if there are some I need to let go of or improve. I always prioritize my relationship with God, my husband and baby, and finally my work and community. Prioritizing helps me to set boundaries so that I can enjoy these aspects of my life. Failing to examine and reset boundaries can turn healthy friends and experiences into bitter relationships built on obligation. So I make sure my new goals help me to prioritize my energy and care in the right ways. This practically looks like not scheduling work during family time and making time for day-to-day connection with my loved ones even if I have to schedule it. The book that helped me do this was Take Back Your Time by Christy Wright. If you find yourself always feeling short on time it’s worth a read.


Clocks and Calendars

I am time blind! If I don’t have a clock in front of me or write down the intentions I forget. Often this causes more stress because it feels as if I am always behind. So this year I bought more calendars! I have a daily planner, and a monthly calendar on my wall, and added a yearly calendar as well. This will help me better see everything coming! I also will be getting out my digital clocks, watch, and timers to help me stay aware of the time at all times. Additionally, I carry a notebook where I write down things I need to remember (your memory is not reliable.) Usually, I will fall off wearing my watch or using my calendar so the new year is a perfect time to reset all of this. Here is a list of the items I bought. These aren’t affiliate links I just like this stuff.

Daily Planner

Wall Calendar

Annual Calendar

Moleskin Notebooks

Simple Watch






This one is hard for me but necessary. I will be working on accountability. This might mean finding a friend to work out with. Reaching out to people who are experienced for advice or using a system like a course to stay on track with learning goals. In addition to asking real people for help, I like some of these tools as well. I have personally used all of them and have had some success in sticking to my goals due to having accountability around them.

Maple: Coordinating home tasks

Noom: Daily accountability for weight loss and healthy eating

Coursera: courses for professional development  (apply for financial aid to try it free!)

Linked In: Reach out to experienced professionals and ask to interview them for 15 minutes

Facebook Groups: Yes they may be ancient but you can find some surprisingly helpful people out there willing to share tips on everything. This is my fave as a new mom.



Finding time to play

This is a new goal of mine. I would like to find time to play. I notice I really struggle to see anything that is not productive as necessary. It’s hard to make play a priority I usually wait for a vacation or break but that’s not a good long-term plan. Life is full and I am going to have to learn to stop and breathe right in the middle of it! Otherwise, my body will force me to stop by exhaustion or lose hours of my day to YouTube. I notice when I recognize this is a real need I work hard during productivity time and can bring more creativity to my problem-solving. If you have any ideas of what I can do for fun let me know!! 


Resetting is just part of life. It’s a part of the rhythm. I am learning how to be a bit less all-or-nothing and a bit more flexible by understanding this process can’t just happen in January. I need it every day! How do you get back to the norm after the craziness of the holiday season? What have you found helpful? DM me on social media or email bethany@bethanyjphotography.

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Finding Joy

Welcome to my blog. Here I am myself. I am an artist who shares her photography, her family, and more! I called this blog choosing joy because 1. That’s my middle name and 2. Finding joy when life is tough has been a journey for me. More often I am choosing to look for the bright side even when I don’t see it. If you are an artist, a parent, a small business or all three then you will like being around here!

Share your Joy Journey with me by emailing You might be featured in my newsletter!

Your Joy Journey can be something funny or moving your story of overcoming or what brings you joy.