Phenomenal Woman of the Week #14: Meet Courtney Webb!
What if you could you use your passion to start a business and make a change? This is what owner of CWebb Photography Marketing and founder of Skin & Bones, Courtney Webb, has done and I had the great opportunity of interviewing her for PHENOMENAL WOMEN WEDNESDAY.
Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Courtney Webb found her love for photography after taking her first photography class her junior year of high school. Soon she went on to taking more advanced courses, to purchasing her very first camera, to building her portfolio that won her gold key at the Maryville College art show and had two of her images hung in the Frist Center in Nashville her graduating year. After high school, she went on to study Advertising with a double minor in Art and Marketing at Middle Tennessee State University.
Before CWebb Photography Marketing
After college, Courtney worked packaging boxes at Amazon Fulfillment Center. She always knew that it wasn’t where she belonged and quit after a week. Using her skills, she landed her a job as an Easter Bunny set photographer.
“It wasn’t anything special, said Webb, “but it was something for the time being and I was doing photography.”
In 2015, she began training as a photographer at Lifetouch and had her first solid job as a photographer. There she was able to enhance her skills learning studio photography, lighting techniques and how to shoot on-location. Everything was going great until she had to begin traveling with loads of equipment to shoot.
“I remember they scheduled me to shoot by myself right after training and in the midst of setting up [the set equipment] the whole thing fell! I was done! My dad took me to Subway on my break and I told him, ‘I gotta go.’ End of July came around and I went! I left Lifetouch for a new job.”
Right before taking a vacation to New York, she was hired on as a sales associate at Portrait Innovations and was let go through a text message after just 8 months. For some, this sounds like the worst thing that could possibly happen, but for Courtney this allowed her to focus on building her own empire. 6 years later, she was blessed and given the opportunity to go full-time as a freelance photographer. This wasn’t the plan, as photography was just a something she enjoyed, but little did she know that all her hard work was preparing her for her future as a business owner.
“Sometimes we get so anxious to start something new or do something on our own without the proper preparation. We don’t enjoy the process we only want the product.”
“Many people can look at me and see that I’m 25 going on 26 with my own business, but the process and the path it took to get this far has been far from an easy hike down the road. I can’t testify to everything but understand I endured some scratches, scars, setbacks, and set-ups for failure. Regardless of it all, God saw me through it and put me in the position that I am at now.”
Bringing CWebb Photography to Life
Courtney set out to focus on her photography, building a business and worked alongside her business partner, her dad, to bring CWebb Photography Marketing to life. CWebbPM provides a number of options for breathtaking headshots and marketing consulting for those in need of it.
“My dad and I have the same initials CW. That is where the name CWebb comes from. Photography Marketing comes from both of our professions. I do photography and my dad does marketing. He is currently a marketing consultant and he talks to businesses on how to make money or make more money. CWebb Photography Marketing (CWebbPM) is about providing professional head-shots and marketing guidance for those who want to aggressively launch their career starting with a jaw-dropping, doubletaking, earth moving, world stopping WOW-pictures. Our company’s goal is quite simple, to have you see and embrace your perfect picture and respond by saying, ‘WOW! That’s it!'”
Everyone has their preference when it comes to choosing what they like to focus on within a skill. When I asked Courtney what made her choose headshot photography over any other type of photography she said:
“When I worked at Portrait Innovations I enjoyed the headshot sessions simply because they were straightforward, short and the sale was simple. My dad asked me what is it that I would like to do that the portrait studio [does] a lot of? I told him headshots. Headshots are high cost, sessions are short, and the turn around time is quicker than any other type of photography. I shot kids and that takes time dealing with the child and dealing with the parents. I was a second shooter at a wedding and the pressure is more than I desired. Even though I was a second shooter if I messed up or missed a shot that opportunity to catch that moment is gone! Too much pressure. No thanks! Regular portrait sessions you have to focus on the environment, the body, clothes, and angles and make sure everything is working together.”
“[With] headshots my only focus is your face! I enjoy capturing natural expressions and seeing client’s expressions when they see their image pulled up on my computer. It’s an incomparable feeling. I have the skills to shoot any style, but I wanted to spend my time studying and shooting headshots specifically simply because I love working and focusing on the expressions people give.”
Aside from headshot photography she also specializes in nude photography and in 2015 she started a photography project called Skin & Bones. The Skin & Bones project spreads body positivity among women and is made to help women love themselves in their most natural and vulnerable state.
“My senior year 2013-2014 is when I started following other creative photographers. This was a time that nude photography was really prominent. I would look at these other creative’s work and say “that’s what I want to do!” So I began taking self-portraits. Here I am 20-21 years old discovering stretch marks in places I didn’t know they existed. That’s when I learned that a photo has the capability to show us something that we can’t catch in a mirror.”
“…we are all made of skin and we are all made of bones it’s only the fat that makes us different.”
“I want it to be a platform that women can come to and see themselves! I want women to see that they are beautiful just the way they are. It’s not your body that needs to change. Sometimes it’s simply your character. I tell women every time they come into my studio that men love all shapes and sizes. There is a man who will love you just the way you are! Now I’m not saying women can’t change, but I encourage them to do it for themselves and not because it’s a trend, or to get some boy’s attention or because someone else said so. Find beauty within yourself and then work that to the outside because when you love you, you change according to your needs and not the needs of others.”
Body positivity is a movement that’s been growing, but still has a long way to go. She wants women to know that their bodies are beautiful no matter the shade, shape, or size. Her desire to advocate for body positivity through Skin & Bones allows women to embrace their natural selves through photography. The photos highlight the parts of women’s bodies that they see as imperfections. The project helps them to be more accepting of who they are.
“I started Skin & Bones due to my own insecurities. I grew up constantly being told that I’m too skinny, or I need to eat. Because of that, I grew up thinking that there was something wrong with being skinny when the truth was there is nothing wrong with it people just wanted to place their insecurities on me. So I had to reverse what I’ve been told for the past 25 years and switch it into ‘I am beautiful’, ‘I am not too small’, ‘I am who God created me to be’. I worked on simply loving myself versus trying to fit into this trend of ‘thick’, ‘slim thick’, or ‘coke bottle shape.’”
In a world filled with entrepreneurs, upcoming and established, it’s important to have your brand stand out from the rest. Courtney’s way of keeping her’s different is staying true to herself while running her business and working on her project.
“I just follow my passion and the plan God has put in place for me. I’m not trying to out-do or outshine anyone because I want everyone to make it.”
“I just simply want to get my message across and inspire. As long as I am inspiring, impacting and influencing women around me, I have done my job & fulfilled my purpose. Even with headshots, my goal is to simply be the best and my only competition is myself. Every day I am trying to be better than the photographer I was yesterday. I don’t concentrate on what other people are doing because I know I have a greater plan for myself.”
“If you are going to run your own business you have to have confidence in yourself. A lot of people talking about Kanye being in love with Kanye but understand no one believed in Kanye more than Kanye and without that confidence would Kanye become who he is today? Or be in the position he is in today? Want to run your own business? Put on your Kanye attitude and just know you are even if you aren’t.”
Running your own business can be tiring and I wanted to know, aside from being a businesswoman, who was Courtney Webb when she turns her camera off on any regular day.
“I am a woman of God. I am in the midst of being completely transformed into the woman that God has called me to be. My extracurricular activities include home bible studies, prayer and good ole Tyler Perry movies and plays ( DON’T JUDGE ME)!”
“People might roll their eyes over this but that is who I am. I volunteer at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge driving cancer patients to and from their appointments on Wednesday, attend bible study that night and church on Sunday. Everything in between is dedicated to God, improving myself and working on CWebb Photography Marketing.”
“My advice to other entrepreneurs is to stay true to you! Don’t try to be like anyone else and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Cultivate your own creativity.”
“Be influenced and inspired by others but figure out what makes you different and why people will be drawn to you. We all have our own story so why try to plagiarize someone else’s? You were born different just find what that difference is.”
Through CwebbPM and Skin & Bones, Courtney continues to focus on her craft to help motivate and inspire others. Getting to read and share her story and what makes her phenomenal was intriguing, but I wanted to know what it means to her to be a phenomenal woman.
“Being a phenomenal woman means remaining true to who you are! I know I have said this a lot but there is such a beauty in knowing exactly who you are and knowing that no one nor nothing can influence you differently. You are completely comfortable with you inside and out! Being phenomenal is not a status, it’s a character. You can be the richest person in the world and be emotionally broke and empty on the inside. Being a phenomenal woman means being authentically YOU!”