Walking into the home of Courtney Marks, was like walking into a photography studio. Her home was eclectic, in the GREAT way eclectic. Her and her husband Chris, in their as-humble-as-anyone-can-be demeanor, spent hours finding the perfect and authentic, well, everything. From beautiful wooden consoles to bright blue lockers to the table we were filming on, every nook and cranny of their house was original and a photo opportunity. It came as no surprise to learn that they both were Arizona photographers, and fantastic photographers to say the least.
Courtney and I shared a Herstory Brew as we discuss her journey into photography, entrepreneurship, beer (of course) and how she founded her business, Hello Babe Boudoir.
“Love themselves first”
is how Courtney explains the progression of a boudoir photoshoot. She tells me that boudoir is about “defining sexy for you” and that it is different for every woman. Each photo shoot depends on the comfort level of the woman and what makes her feel most beautiful. Some shoots are conducted fully-clothed, and some are not. “Once they are at that point [of loving themselves first] and say ‘yes I want to celebrate my body,’ that’s where we come in.”
Photography wasn’t Courtney’s adolescent dream-created-reality, but instead (in her words), “it was more of a natural progression.” Photography started as a hobby during Courtney’s teen years and continued through journalism school. “When I got into journalism school I realized that I can do photography and journalism, they can be one in the same!” And there she was, jumping camera-first into photojournalism. She initially studied under a photojournalist with the Associated Press and continued trudging-through as a (minority) woman photojournalist herself. Her journey took her throughout the country, but during the economic downturn of 2008 she decided to return to her hometown roots, and made her way back to Phoenix, Arizona.
Upon her return, Courtney’s career shifted when the dean from her journalism school asked Courtney to photograph a wedding. Quickly Courtney’s career turned nuptial as she continued to be requested for weddings and portraiture. She created Courtney Sargent Photography and discovered her talent in documenting beauty in these rare and important moments. But continuing down this path, Courtney’s gut was telling her that she needed something more.
“I wanted to feel like I was using the power of photography for good, because it is the skill that I have and I want to give back.”
Her creative juices started flowing after completing a boudoir photo shoot herself. She felt like some women, herself included, thought that boudoir was unattainable and something in which women had trouble identifying. “I thought of myself more as a ‘cute’ girl.” But after her shoot she realized that the session was to empower her and make her feel confident and beautiful inside and out, and she wanted to do that for other people.
“I wanted to find something where I was creating good around me instead of just documenting it,” she states. “Weddings are documenting beauty. Boudoir is more about creating beauty within a woman and empowering her through it.”
So after years of this idea stewing (and brewing), Courtney and her entrepreneurial spirit developed Hello Babe Boudoir. “I needed to make sure my vision was clear and that I was putting out positivity, just pure positivity.”
Hello Babe Boudoir is more than just a photoshoot, yes the photos are beautiful (check out her website) but the experience is what is most important to Hello Babe:
“The experience is really what’s lasting and what is going to have an effect on your confidence and ability go to out into the world and feel powerful” The main goal at the end of the day is for women to come and of course enjoy themselves, but leave feeling confident and empowered and loving everything about her body. “Not despite your imperfections, you love your imperfections, you love everything.”
When Courtney isn’t changing the world one photo at a time, she is drinking an IPA and conjuring up her next rock climbing adventure. She said that beer is the only beverage in which she gets satisfaction; she loves everything about it! Trying new beers, education, and especially the social aspects. In fact sipping and sharing new beers with people she loves is “what beer is all about.” We couldn’t agree more.
We actually met Courtney at a Greenwood Brewing event at GenuWine Arizona, sharing a Herstory. Now we’ve come full circle sharing a beer today.
To check out the rest of Courtney’s interview and her advice to her younger self, click here! And be sure to head over to our nomination page to nominate your favorite story, or a story of someone that you’d like to share. Nominate a remarkable woman today!