Artist, champion of women, dreamer.
There is nothing more powerful than women who celebrate other women. Who thrive on lifting them up, on watching them grow and helping them succeed. Courtney King is one of those women. Photographer, make-up artist, baker, event space owner, Courtney is an all-round creative who loves imagining and showcasing beauty.
Courtney has been a good friend of mine for much of my adult life, and I was not only drawn to her own beauty, but also the vibrant energy she embodies. She is bubbly and enchanting, and makes you feel loved. It’s this kind of energy that has seen her multi-disciplinary space Blondes Garage host a plethora of events, photo shoots and product launches for some of Melbourne’s best brands and creative minds.
Over time I’ve also watched her photography career go from strength to strength, adapting to the current zeitgeist, but also staying true to her own aesthetic. From her food and restaurant images for Beat Eats and home and interiors for The Design Files, to lust-worthy travel photos from all over the globe, Courtney has an uncanny ability to capture beauty.
But it’s her latest series of ‘muses’ for her new Instagram page A Muse & Me that has really struck a chord. A collection of semi-nude portraits of women of all shapes and sizes, the work is a true celebration of what it means to love and admire the female form in all its iterations.
Courtney took some time out to chat to me about her unique, but always creative, journey to finding her passion, what it means to be a restless creative, and the joy she gets out of photographing her friends in the nude.
Courtney King is…
I’d say I’m a creative and always have been. I think it is because I’m a bit of a dreamer. I see a lot of beauty in the world and I love to share that with people. I like to bring my visions to life, and bring people together in the process.
Why do you do what you do and when did you decide this is what you wanted to do with your life?
Photography has always been a passion of mine and turned into my profession, but I started my career as a makeup artist. When I left school I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do so I studied makeup as it was always something I had enjoyed and done for friends from a young age. After eight years in the industry I needed a change, I needed some brain food. I applied for university for basically anything creative – fine arts, graphic design, photography – and photography was the one that I got into first round.
I enjoy variety in my work, which is why I think my career has so many creative arms. It’s challenging when something becomes your job; you tend to not do it as a creative outlet anymore. But I’m always looking to push myself, and I’ve come full circle now and realised that I need to embrace the creative side of photography again for myself, to keep me driven in my work.
Can you tell me about the businesses that you have and how they all intersect together?
I run Blondes Garage, a studio in Windsor, that I started out as a place that I could create in, and became a place where other people could connect. I hire it out for events, photo shoots and workshops. It is just a wonderful space for people to collaborate in. With the photography and the studio space, it’s a full package that I can offer. The makeup intertwines with my photography because I do love to photograph people.
My cakes, Courtney Love Cakes, started out as something that I like to do for people I love. I have been paid to make a few (including for Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp), so it’s another creative outlet for me, and something that again brings joy and connects other people.
Why is it important to have a space to connect with other creatives; to create a space for other people to have somewhere to showcase their work?
I’m a collaborator and I actually believe that I work better with other people. Although a lot of my work is solo, I’m not a solo person, I love to connect with people. I’m really driven when I’m surrounded by others that inspire me, and having a space that brings those people into my life is a gift to not only me but creators and collaborators alike.
Melbourne has such a creative community as well. It’d be great to get vibes and ideas off these people too.
Definitely, definitely. I read a quote once that said none of us are original, we are an accumulation of everyone we have ever met. I believe that to be true to a degree.
Can you tell me about your journey to becoming a photographer and the full range of work that you do?
I didn’t always know photography would be my career, but in high school I would go to the school shop every single Friday and cheekily put a disposable camera on my mother’s account and I would take photos all weekend. Whether I’d just be hanging out with friends or we’d have a party, I always had a camera in my hand. Then Monday morning I’d drop them in to get developed. I was always that person; I’m pretty sure I have about over a hundred albums on Facebook. Probably a lot of those photos should be removed, but I have a thing of not deleting them.
Then when I went travelling I always had a little point and shoot; I actually didn’t even own an SLR until I went to uni! I had always just framed up the picture and pressed a button. And now I had this camera that had all these controls and I had no idea how to use it. So that was a massive learning curve. And then to add Photoshop and lighting on top of that, it’s been an interesting journey. But I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m always growing in my photography, and it’s nice to turn what was just a hobby into a career and be able to share the beauty I see with other people.
Most of my clients are builders, architects and interior designers. I shoot a lot of interiors and that’s definitely where my passion lies. There’s something about colour and light that really fascinates me. I love working with natural light and capturing the essence of a space.
As I mentioned, I’ve found that by having a few little personal projects it keeps me inspired across all my work. And one of those is A Muse & Me. I love photographing women and showing them how beautiful they are.
Can you tell me about A Muse & Me and what the intention is behind the photos?
I’ve always been fascinated by the female form. Even back in high school I was creating art, including photography and sculptures, with the female form as my subject matter. I think women are so beautiful and I love to capture that and show them that beauty.
When I was a makeup artist, the thing I enjoyed the most was showing women how beautiful they are and I get to continue this with my photography. I think we unfortunately tend to have a distorted image of ourselves and I like to think that I can contribute to changing this.
What is it about the female form that you think is so powerful and so beautiful?
I have a thing for curves and I think the shapes of the female form are so beautiful, fluid and sensual.
Why do you think it’s important that we are celebrating women of all shapes and sizes?
I’ve had my struggles with body image and it comes from this standard that’s set by society. It’s just awful how it can confine your life in so many ways. I think to celebrate all bodies is so empowering for women. The focus we put on how we look takes us away from living in yourself and living in your heart. It’s also unrealistic in terms of our representation of women.
What does the next 12 months look for you? Do you have some exciting projects coming up or what would you like to delve into or achieve?
I’m hoping in the next six months that I’ll finally have an exhibition of my personal work. It will be based on A Muse & Me and will feature photographs of incredible women. I think they’re very powerful images and I’d love to share them. It’s one thing to see them on Instagram, but to print and display them is something else. So I think I’ve got to bite the bullet and just make it happen! I’m also making use of the down time to work on an Architectural series.
You’ve got the space for it!
I know exactly. I really have no excuse!
To see more of Courtney’s incredible work, visit www.courtneyking.com
For all the beautiful women, hop through to A Muse & Me
To hire Blonde’s Garage, head to https://www.blondesgarage.com/