Meet the Founder | An Interview with Courtney Holmes
Tell us a little about your background and how you got started in photography & filmmaking
I grew up in a small town called Valdosta, Georgia (aka the Deep South over in the US) and each summer we used to vacation in Destin, FL. My Dad would always bring the camcorder along, and I love watching those videos that he made from my childhood. He also recorded just about every Christmas, and summer trips, plus my mom would often set up the tripod in our family room so that my siblings and I could make our own home videos (complete with choreographed routines….my sister is a dancer!). Those VHS tapes (that have now been converted to DVD’s) are so incredibly special to our family now. We watched them a lot more as a family together than we ever looked at photo albums.
As a child I played the piano, then the flute, and sang regularly in church choir and any musical production I could get into. I went to college (Uni for my Aussie friends) on a flute scholarship, and studied music education, but then changed schools and changed major to musical theatre. My entire life I’ve always been part of the creative arts in one form or another. But it wasn’t until I moved to Australia and had my first child that I started getting interested in photography.
I met my husband in the US, got married at 21, and moved to Australia not long after. I had my first child at 26 and it was after his birth that I started getting interested in photography. I was obsessed with learning how to make good photos of him, and a DSLR purchase plus a nifty fifty had me hooked.
I spent the next 3 years practicing and taking clients here and there, but it was after my daughter was born in 2013 that I really started getting serious about my work. It was around this time as well that I started shooting video of my kids, and occasionally for clients.
I upgraded my camera body and bought a new lens, and started shooting more and more video. Photography and filmmaking was like a therapy for me. I had such a difficult pregnancy, and spiralled into such a deep depression after my daughter was born that I needed an outlet. Something to focus on, to find something to be grateful for each day. Photography and filmmaking pulled me through those dark days.
After about a year I started doing more, experimenting more, and making more client films. From there it became an obsession to make more and more films for families, and then that led to teaching and here we are today!
How long have you been incorporating films into your work?
It’s been about 5 years now! The early days were rough let me tell you. I started out using Windows Movie Maker and it took me SUCH a long time to figure everything out because there was literally NO WHERE to find information that made sense to me. All the tutorials I could find were using other kinds of footage, weddings or for businesses, nothing for families!
What made you decide to start teaching other photographers about the art of creating films for families?
It all started with a group of local photographers who wanted me to teach them in person how to make films. I LOVED IT. I have always loved teaching, and this felt like such a wonderful way to combine two of my passions. News spread and I started getting requests from photographers around Australia to come teach in their cities, so I did that for about a year which I also loved. Then I decided to take that lesson plan and turn it into an online course, which I ran for a little more than 2 years and that sold out each time I opened it for enrollment. Then I started getting more ideas about courses I could create, but I knew it would be impossible to facilitate them all as individual workshops, so this led to creating a membership site were I could have all of them available for people to work through at their own pace. This year I also had the huge honour of teaching a class with CreativeLive which was 100% the highlight of my year. I believe wholeheartedly in spreading the message that filmmaking is achievable, and an IMPORTANT thing to be doing as a photographer.
Tell us about your favourite film that you've made
Gosh this one is hard….. If I had to pick a favourite personal film I think it would probably be the one from August 2016 of my kids playing in puddles in the reserve near our house at the time.
And I have two favourite client films! The wedding I did for dear friends in the US, and then a family film I did for a dear friend in QLD
What is your best piece of advice for those just starting out in filmmaking?
My biggest advice for people starting out in filmmaking is to let go of perfection. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything being perfect, especially if your photography work is at a high level. It’s hard feeling like you’re starting all over, which essentially you are. But it gets easier, you get better, and ultimately it DOES NOT MATTER if everything is perfect, at ANY stage whether you are new or advanced. I see this as THE biggest hurdle for experienced photographers to get past, because it’s hard to start at the beginning. But it’s also so FREEING to let go of the idea of perfection. Learning video will make you an even BETTER photographer hands down, and as you work towards your goal of making films strive for PROGRESS not PERFECTION. The only person you should compare yourself to is YOU. Not anyone else. Get out of your own head, forget about what’s RIGHT or what other people think. And just create for the sake of creating. You’ll thank yourself later.