My name is Courtney Rodgers (they/them) and I am a queer photographer and videographer based in the Waitākere Rangers. I have had a passion for imagery since I can remember and began taking photos on film (35mm) when I was 16. As my taste in cinema grew and became more surrealist and abstract I decided I wanted to study it and came away with a Screen Arts degree with a Cinematography major. I have a huge drive towards capturing life as is, and have utilised natural light in mostly everything I've created.
How did you get into / what inspired you to get into photography & videography?
Since studying film I decided that the industry itself wasn't the right place for me, as I more enjoy the idea of creative collaboration. I began making my own short films as bursts of expression. Taking my camera to parties when I was a teenager I would capture snippets of experiences as an outsider inside. I taught myself to edit and colour-grade, and grew to adore the process of seeing something unfold from beginning to end.
Following another passion I have for music, I began taking photos at gigs - which continues to this day - and has now developed into taking promotional photos and album artwork for musicians (Sulfate's Godzone) as well as making music videos. I have worked creatively alongside my partner - Jazmine Mary, from who I draw massive inspiration in many elements. We have co-directed their music videos, where I have also been the camera operator and cinematographer, as well as other various forms of creative collaboration including album art, short films, performance art and creating music together (I play the drums in their band). The next phase of our collaboration is to begin making music videos for other musicians, our first for artist Tei. which we will be doing in March.
What / who are your main influences and inspirations?
I try to take inspiration from my everyday surroundings, from the people I spend my time with, dialogue that exists between each other and thought patterns. I like the simplicity of landscapes and really enjoy capturing that, I feel it brings me some kind of innocent joy and deep calmness.
How would you describe your work / what do you intend to achieve with your work?
I feel there are two sides to my creative self, the part of me that loves the weirdness and the dark, and the other side that loves to capture the gentle emptiness. Both I can hold hand in hand and I really appreciate that about myself. At the moment I am learning to be more open to allowing my creativity to have no bounds, moving into other realms of expression that aren't just photographic. There was a long time when I felt nervous to veer away from anything comfortable, and fortunately, I feel like that has shifted into a lovely place.
What is your proudest accomplishment / favourite project?
Last year I had the privilege of being the main photographer for Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa, which was over 5 nights, 3 shows a night. It really showed me that I was capable of taking on something big like that and being able to come out of it feeling super proud of the work I had produced.
What is your best advice for someone interested in your field?
At the end of the day, I am just a humble bean who loves working with kind, like-minded people who can see what I do and appreciate it for what it is. I'm enjoying this journey of trying to create without stress because in reality, it doesn't need to feel challenging doing what we love to do and I hope other people feel this way too.
Check out more of Courtney's work here!
Courtney's 35mm Film Photos