Influenced by the vastness of the Plains, Texas-born and-raised Courtney Ellzey was first compelled to pick up a Polaroid camera at a young age. In her search to find an escape from the routine of her small-hometown life, she began creating a new world for herself through her imagery. “I lived in a town of 7,000 people; the vast and desolate surrounding has greatly influenced my art, yet it keeps me humble — it reminds me of where I’m from,” she says.
Growing up in a family of creatives — her grandfather, a master carpenter; her mother, a lover of interior design — deeply influenced her relationship to objects in space.
Beauty in the chaos
Married into the military life, Ellzey quickly became familiar with the inevitability of sudden and frequent deployments and the prolonged stretches of time before the next reunion. “Moments with our loved ones are so fleeting that it becomes paramount to capture them,” offers Ellzey. “Whether painful or not — there is always beauty in chaos.” The uncertainty of her life incited Ellzey to begin documenting her experience through pictures. The significance of her reality was further encouraged by a momentous event.
When celebrated photographer Laura Wilson published a picture of Ellzey’s brother, a U.S Navy jet pilot, for GQ magazine, Ellzey’s inkling about photography became a goal. Aside from the pride of seeing her sibling’s story in print, Ellzey recalls the impact of Wilson’s capture. “The image was so powerful, not only because it was of my brother but on a more visceral level. This woman was telling his story through a photograph,” she says. In that moment, and after having the chance to sit down with Wilson, she decided not only to capture her subjects, but to chronicle their stories.
The process of processing
Ellzey’s images reflect a nostalgia evocative of Americana — dark and moody, replete with iconic elements, her photos are raw and honest. Textural captures of rust, salvaged wood and reflective surfaces are abundant in her imagery. In contrast, close-ups of horses, embraces, candid expressions and natural portraits complement her body of work. An integral part of her pictorial storytelling is the image processing. “I see life as in movie stills and ask myself, ‘How can I make this look the way that it makes me feel?’ ” The editing of her images is entirely intuitive as she strives to manifest a direct visual representation of a feeling.
Project Sight Preservation
Ellzey’s current creative endeavor has combined her keen eye for interior design and her passion for photography. With Project Sight Preservation, she recaptures the life that once existed in vacant and abandoned buildings. In the neglected spaces, Ellzey creates a stage, re-enacting a likely moment in the life of the once-inhabited interior. The result is photographic compilation of temporarily redesigned “moments” in time of a particular place. Furthermore, she wishes to make a social statement about our economy and its direct impact on the spirit of our society. In the melancholy of her images Ellzey poignantly reminds us of a bankrupt morale, a feeling that is evident in the emptiness of an unoccupied space. “To preserve moments,” she says, “even if they are imagined; to acknowledge what was once substantial, is at the core of my photography.”
For further information on Project Sight Preservation, find LZ Fine Art Imagery Interiors on Facebook. To view more of Courtney Ellzey’s work, visit www.clzphotography.com.