BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Time cannot be stopped, but Courtney Zbydnowski of Courtney Lee Photography is doing her best to preserve small slices of time for local families.
In 2017, Courtney opened her first small studio at the Collingwood Arts Center after studying photography at The Art Institute. Then, in early 2020, she moved to her current location, 113 W. Broadway St., Maumee.
“I wanted to be in Maumee because this is where I’m from, my family grew up here, my kids go to school at Maumee,” Courtney said. “My grandparents were from here, my great-grandparents lived here, so right before COVID hit, in February 2020, I opened my studio here.”
The Broadway Street studio is filled with props and backdrops that fit her aesthetic: modern, clean, bright and a touch of vintage.
“I love antique props. I started going to the Maumee Antique Mall and I’d find wood chairs and stuff for kids, anything I can put them in,” Courtney said.
Several of her props are used in newborn sessions – something she specializes in and would like to help teach others how to do.
“I would love to mentor people to do newborn photography or children’s photography down the road,” Courtney said. “I’d love to do mentoring or teaching and I would love to get an assistant eventually.”
Courtney has plans to eventually expand her business further. Right now, she’s focused on bringing in different clients. She is known for newborn and children’s photography, but she’d like to bring in more seniors and expand on her already large portfolio.
While many of her newborn and child sessions can take place inside her studio, for seniors and families, it’s best to showcase what Maumee and the area have to offer.
“I love Side Cut. I love the river side when it’s low and you can go out on the rocks at sunset,” Courtney said. “I also like uptown – the history, the buildings are so beautiful, and the stairwells, too.”
Using the area around her is important to Courtney because of her commitment to Maumee. When she does first birthday cake smashes, she always recommends local bakeries to her clients. When she plans outdoor sessions, she likes to highlight the area. She hopes to stay in uptown Maumee while she expands her business.
“It’s home. I love it, I love the community,” Courtney said. “I love helping others when I can and volunteering my time.”
Part of her volunteering includes donating her services, which she has done in several ways. After the pandemic started, she wanted to give back to the first responders, so she held free mini sessions for nurses, police officers and firefighters and their families.
Mini sessions are a nice way for families to get their photos taken when they might otherwise have a busy schedule or may not want to sit for a full session.
“Mini sessions are great. Dads love them because they’re not a full session,” Courtney said. “It’s not 90 minutes, it’s 30-45 minutes, but we get a ton of shots.”
That’s all Courtney wants – for families to actually get their photos taken so their children and grandchildren will always have a remembrance of them.
“I think that pictures are so important, preserving those memories,” Courtney said. “You’ll never get that time back, especially with kids. They grow so fast, and you want to be included in there.”
Moms especially are who Courtney wants to place in front of the camera. In her experience, they’re not always as quick to put themselves there, and she wants to help them feel confident and beautiful in front of the lens, Courtney said.
“I want them to know they’re gorgeous,” Courtney said. “Your kids are going to want these pictures when they’re older to show their kids.”
For those interested in scheduling a session with Courtney, she can be found on her website at courtneyleephotography45.mypixieset.com or by phone at (567) 868-4490. Her website contains her portfolio, a breakdown of costs and more information on sessions.