We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Maxwell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My daughter is my biggest inspiration. When she was born in 2016 I picked up a DSLR and I haven’t put it down since. It quickly led to me wanting to capture the preciousness and beauty of our everyday moments for other families. Photographing motherhood and families in the landscape that we get to call home is truly my passion. It makes me the happiest chic around.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is inspired by families, motherhood, light, landscapes, connections and movement. I believe family is the biggest gift in life and each family’s story deserves to be told.
Motherhood is my biggest inspiration though- the journey of motherhood is beautiful and it’s connecting on a common level.
The first year of motherhood is HARD. I don’t think it gets talked about enough. Photography was/is really therapeutic for me. When I looked at the self portraits I created of my daughter and I, I was able to see that I was doing ok. I just got lost in it all, like so many do. I want the moms that I photograph to be able to see how beautiful they are and to see the deeply rooted connections that they have with their babes.
I got to this place by doing A LOT of model calls and never putting my camera down. I borrowed my grandpa’s DSLR, learned manual and advertised on an active local mommies group for model calls and mini sessions. This gave me a lot of practice to learn what worked and what didn’t. I also studied light nonstop. Throughout the day I would just watch how light hit and fell on peoples faces. I took and still take a lot of online courses through Unraveled Academy https://theunraveledacademy.com/start and the Click Community https://theclickcommunity.com/forums/login/ and I did an Unraveled Academy workshop in 2019. The model calls quickly turned to actual clients and then word of mouth spread. Word is mouth is EVERYTHING. My business really took off Spring of 2020. Through the quiet of 2020, I found my creative voice. And I think families were ready to just get outside and still document their lives. It took awhile to get to this place but it was so worth it. And I’m just in awe some days that this is what I get to do.
One of my biggest struggles was finding my own voice in photography. There’s so much talent out there and it’s so easy to get lost in all of it and to compare yourself. Stepping away from social media every once in awhile and approaching sessions without any expectations of what should be created really helped me overcome those challenges. I started to create for me – which I think sounds selfish but it’s really not- because only you can create like you. I look for the unique moments happening in front of me and I just try to capture them in a way that feels beautiful to me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is so hard because there are so many great places to go…. I think I’ll pick Aspen for this one. Independence Pass to Aspen from Denver, because it’s gorgeous and only open in the summer. Once in Aspen we’d grab a drink at Aspen Brewing Company. Dinner at Venga Venga in Snowmass cause it’s so dang good and it’s on Snowmass mountain. Local Coffee House for coffee. Take the gondola to the top of Aspen mountain for Mountain Top Yoga. Hike Condundrum Creek Trail to the Hot Springs, White River Ajax Trail (easy and kid friendly), and Maroon Bells Trail. It’s pricey to stay in Aspen and I love camping, so we’d likely go camping at Silver Queen Campground.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Kate Ivy Photography : https://kateivyphotography.com/ Kate has been a long time friend and mentor. Without her I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Highlands Mommies on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/15787904750
I used this group so much in the beginning for model calls. It’s such a vibrant active group that has really been a great resource and support group.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: I think this book is a must read for all creatives. This is one of my favorite quotes:
“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” —Elizabeth Gilbert
Courtney Maxwell Photography