A few weeks ago we had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Courtney Rae (@cupcakesandcourt) about everything from makeup to photography. Courtney is hilarious, down-to-earth and a truly talented individual. We think you’ll agree!
My name is Courtney Rae. I'm a born and bred Kentucky girl - which in my book is aces. There's just something about southern women (I think it's all of the chicken and waffles).
I am a huge movie buff and I absolutely love going to the theater. It's like an event....i have to arrive entirely too early in order to not miss any of the previews of course. And then there's the popcorn, the smuggled-in junior mints and of course choosing the perfect seat. Preferably one where you can prop your feet up on the bar in front of you. My favorite genre of movies is horror. I love to be scared - probably because I rarely am. But any movie that has the potential to keep me up at night is a winner.
I love to read. I love to explore. I'm partial to abandoned homes, fog filled forests and anything macro. I love to hike and camp and don't mind getting dirty. But at the same time I have worked with makeup for years and currently work at a spa. At the heart of it all I am a total girly girl.
So how did you get into taking pictures?
As far back as I can remember I have always been into photography. The idea that you can capture this one moment - this emotion - and it will remain forever. That's a pretty powerful thing.
On a whim I bought my first SLR right before a Jamaican holiday i went on with a girlfriend of mine. I thought, “Why not?” After my first day of using it I was hooked. In actuality, I have no idea what I'm doing. Technically speaking. I don't known much about all of the different forms of long exposure or HDR or changing light sources, etc. All I know is what I feel and that is what people seem to respond to the most. Anyone can pick up a camera and push a button. It’s not exactly hard. What's more difficult is finding what moves you and relaying that to the people around you just by pushing that button.
What is it about abandoned homes or aged architecture that draws you to photograph them?
I have an absolute obsession with all things abandoned. My love of such started well before I found my first abandoned home. When I was a child I was so into horror movies, the paranormal and anything dark. I found such fascination and mystery within all things unsettling and uncomfortable. It might sound odd and maybe it is, but it's one facet that rounds out who I am and balances my Über girly side.
Now when it comes to abandoned homes there’s such a beautiful sadness there. Most homes that I encounter are beyond lovely, such as old farm houses. You can almost feel the pain and imagine the stories as you sift around the items left behind. No one abandons their home and belongings on good terms and you can truly feel that emotion. It's melancholy but stunningly beautiful.
Architecture to me is like a dance. Each piece placed in an exact manner. Especially in these older homes that I seem to stumble upon. They don't make homes nowadays like they used to.
What about Instagram? How did you get into that?
When I first joined Instagram I didn't give a hoot about it. Which is sad because I did so right around the time I was in Europe for a month. I was taking photos outside of social media, but never uploading them to Instagram.
Then I found my first abandoned house and an entirely new world opened up for me it seems. I posted a few photos and started receiving comments and interacting with people. Deanna (@myficklelife) was the first person to really give me a boost. I was featured on an abandoned page and she was so supportive. She told me that I really had a knack for capturing beauty in such desolate places. So I took her words to heart and ran with it. I began to post more landscapes too, which is what i'm posting more of now (people love fog).
It really isn't about the photos to me though. I draw so much inspiration from Instagram, but it's definitely more about the community for me. Constantly meeting new people from all over the world. I've formed real friendships outside of Instagram because of Instagram. Some of my very good friends are from meet ups and texting and writing letters (Yes, writing letters is still a thing). I love the support and the positivity. It really does make a difference
What do you hope to accomplish through your photography and Instagram work?
I guess the standard answer would be to get better at it. I would love to hone in more on what moves me and continue to express that to other people. I would eventually like to learn more about the inner workings of my camera, but not too much. I find that when people focus on the technical side they begin to overthink their work. But I prefer instinct and imagination over the perfect knowledge of a camera.
Much more so than any of that I want to continue meeting people and creating new connections through this app. Instagram has become somewhat of a map for me. Everywhere I go I am thinking of which people from Instagram that I can meet up with! Within the next year I would love to meet as many people as I can and take photos together, but more importantly talk about anything other than photography. That is when I feel as though I really get to know someone - when you take the sometimes Instagram facade off the table and just be yourself. I would also prefer some doughnuts on the table and a latté too.
What does your editing process generally look like?
Well when I'm working with mextures it's all over the place. I have no routine. I might have an idea in my head of the look that I want to achieve but that's about it. Part of the fun is just trying out anything and everything and seeing if it works. Typically when I use Mextures I’m using Dreary from the Landscape Enhance Pack - that's probably one of my favorites. I love the Vintage Gradients too. Particularly Soil and Twilight.
Now, if I'm not working with Mextures I barely edit if I even edit at all! I really want my photos to be as close as possible to what I saw through the lens. I love crisp, clean, natural editing. I don't photoshop at all. I love that style for some people but it's just not my thing.
So who or what is inspiring you with your photography and editing?
A huge inspiration to me are my frequent trips to San Francisco and the people with whom I've met there, especially Derek (@dizrqu) who was kind enough to extend an invitation to me and took me camping in the otherworldly redwoods. After a week of being there I was hooked. The forests there are a dream! It’s hard to lose out on any creativity when you are surrounded by that magic.
Another huge inspiration to me are my #igersindy crew. The amazing group of people I have come to know and love in Indiana has been a blessing. I have attended a few of the meet ups and always have such a great time. Everyone is so forthcoming and open, namely my good friend Steven (@redxluckyxcharms). If there was ever a person you wanted to take out shooting with you it's him. Steven is the most approachable and adventurous guy. He’s someone that brings out the fun in every situation.
My group of girls on Instagram has been such a fantastic motivator as well. These ladies offer constant support and love for my pictures, but, more importantly, for me. Some of them I now text and email with on a regular basis!
I mean, can I give mother nature some credit here? When I take a macro shot of a water droplet or walk into a fog-enveloped dream of a forest I can't help but feel emotional. The world we live in is a constant source of inspiration. It’s literally around every corner and you can find beauty in anything.
Kentucky inspires me as well! I will never be able to express how fortunate I have been to grow up here. My happiest day is a road trip into rural Kentucky. Driving the backroads. Eating the delicious food. Meeting the people. I love my state and the photographers that reside here are amazing!
As far as editing goes, well, I have to name a few in particular here. Raheim (@black_soap) has the most crisp and clean edits I have ever seen. We don't take photos of the same subjects at all, but his style is something that can be universal. Plus, he is quite popular on Instagram but still takes time to answer comments. Such a cool dude!
I'm quite into moody and dark edits so a few of my girls like Jessica (@pickledgoose), Melie (@meliejean) and Danielle (@bebedowntown) are people that I am constantly inspired by. Their edits are powerful. Their photos aren't just pretty pieces to look at, they bring forth idea, a new way of thinking. That is what photography is all about to me. Looking at the world in a different perspective than the one in which you came with.