Every February as we celebrate Black History Month, we remember the rich history of Black culture in America by honoring the struggles we’ve overcome and reflecting the goals we’ve realized. One thing that doesn’t enter the conversation as much as it could is the joy that’s carried Black Americans through many trials and tribulations. This year, queer photographer and entrepreneur Courtney Ramsey is changing that.
This month she launched her Black Joy! photo series, which features portraits of Black individuals posing with the things that spark joy in their lives. Each day has a different theme, such as “Black Artist Joy” and “Black Body Builder Joy.” After a taxing four years for the country, Ramsey wanted to show that, through it all, Black Americans have remained “resilient and positive. We have heart and we’ve maintained an inner joy that will always come through.”
After coming up with 60 possible themes, Ramsey reached out to friends and family within her pandemic bubble to pose for the photos. She took care to represent the “full range of the rainbow” by including straight and LGBTQ representation. “I want viewers of the series to see that you can be joyous in yourself and still keep moving. You can focus on the joy within yourself no matter what the times are,” Ramsey says of her goal.
Ramsey is a shining example of this type of joy. The Black Joy! photo series perseveres despite a worldwide pandemic, extreme winter weather in Washington, D.C., and a terrorist attack on the Capitol. Ramsey made modifications each step of the way, ensuring that the project could continue. Her hard work is clearly worth it: she explains that the response from those featured has been positive. “People are excited to get out and interact. And these photos bring me joy too,” she says.
Ramsey’s business, Clicks by Courtney, primarily shoots weddings, events, and sports—all occasions that have been put on hold because of the COVID 19 pandemic. It’s a business she’s poured her heart and soul into building. She not only is a certified LGBTQ-owned business, but she also is a member of the Equality Chamber of Commerce DC Metro Area. And she does all of this on top of working a nine-to-five in IT.
As we discuss how she, like many others, has had to pivot her creativity during pandemic, Ramsey quotes a line from Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” It’s a fitting personal mantra for a woman who lets the pursuit of joy guide her work.
Ramsey’s own words on joy are wise enough to be adopted as a mantra in their own right: “There is a piece of joy that is just waiting to be recognized. Within you, within your friends, within your family.” It’s a truth that Black joy ensures we won’t soon forget.
To learn more about Ramsey and her work, visit www.clicksbycourtney.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram at @clicksbycourtney.