When I got Amy Smith, founder of Joylita Photography, on the phone, the first thing she said in regards to her business is, “well, it’s been a process.” I’m sure it has been, and I’m eager to hear about the journey she’s taken discovering her passion and starting a business from the ground up.

The Houston-based photographer, who began the practice of her craft while in high school, tells me, “I found I had this need to take pictures of everything we were doing, a need of having to document this experience.” This, naturally, led Amy into the arms of photography and she hasn’t turned back. With her first camera, a Canon, in hand, she began to build her skillset as she grew more and more serious about keeping photography a salient part of her life.

As a self-taught photographer, who learned most of her photography skills by playing around with her equipment and occasionally turning to YouTube for a bit of extra help, Amy developed a personal relationship with her technique and style after working hard to better her craft all on her own.

Although she didn’t study photography in school—she opted for hospitality instead—Amy was keen to continue her practice, leading her to the creation of Joylita.

Amy started Joylita Photography as a way to maintain a steady relationship with photography, even though it wouldn’t serve as her “day job”. Through Joylita, Amy is able to combine her passion for photos with her love of people—her typical jobs involve family sessions, engagement shoots, and weddings, where Amy is able to collaborate with her subjects to get the best shots. The photographer favors this sort of personal photography for her desire to “make people see what I see, we all view ourselves differently.”

Amy’s approach involves capturing people in as natural a way as possible, revealing their beauty sans post-editing photoshop. She explains that if a client asks her to remove wrinkles or slim down their bodies, she will likely decline, as photoshopped beauty isn’t her game. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t value the post-edit process—all of her shots are delivered to clients after she edits to improve the overall photo quality.

In terms of her business and what clients can expect out of a shoot with Amy, she explains that once she goes through the shots and removes those of poorer quality, she provides her clients with the entire shoot. “I don’t understand why some photographers make people buy 10 additional photos, like what am I going to do with the photos?” By receiving the whole photo collection, clients can ensure that their favorite shots are included.

The photos will typically include a bunch of candid shots—”I hate stiff poses,” Amy tells me, “I mix it up and it’s very specific for who I’m shooting.” Clients can expect a diverse range of photos that meet their needs, as communication is key when collaborating with people on the photoshoots that capture the important moments in their lives. Although Amy is running a business, she ensure that she is “more about the people than about the money.” Her standard prices are $350-$400 for engagements, $350 for families and seniors, $300 for portraits and kids.

When Amy isn’t catering to the needs of her clients, a first priority, she always has her eyes open for personal photography opportunities, which can spring up just about anywhere. She tells me, “Every time I drive past an ugly wall I’m like I bet I can make that beautiful.” Though sometimes it takes a little inspiration to get the creative juices flowing—for example other photographers she finds to be inspiring—for Amy it’s about originality.

She explains: “Photography can get repetitive, so I lean towards people who take an idea and make it theirs.” Amy then demonstrates her own originality when she adds that when a creative idea strikes she often relies on her friends and family to help her out, serving as the photos subject—”I’m like ‘hey do you mind if I put you in this bush and put a smoke grenade in your hair?'” It’s clear that when an idea forms in Amy’s mind, she is confident and ready to go out and make it happen.

I can hear in her voice the sincerity when she ends with, “It’s such a blessing to have a creative outlet that’s also inspiring.”

Check out Amy’s Joylita Photography for more of her work!