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Meet Courtney Gail of Just Another Shot Photography in Antelope Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Gail.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Courtney. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I had a teacher in high school that used to tell me that one day I was going to write an autobiography but that I would have to put it in the fiction section because no one would believe it. Although I believe he meant it in jest, the reality of that is all too real. My story is messy. My story is filled with a bunch of moments that leave me wondering why I am still here at all because, in all actuality, I should be dead, but the incredible thing is I’m not. I don’t think that this is the proper outlet to tell my complete story, although I am sure I will find a place for that eventually, but what I can tell you simply is drugs and alcohol almost took my life and I took it back.

Photography is my passion, It always has been, I just lost sight of it for a while. I was raised in a house of photography. My mama was taking photos as long as I can remember and she was good at it. As long as I have been looking at the world, I have been seeing it in pictures. I thought that was how everyone saw the world. When I looked at things, I would automatically see how the image would look like a photograph, and how it might look even better if I took it from this side of the room or if there was maybe just a LITTLE more light coming from this side. Apparently, this was not normal. I got my first camera when I was seven and I blew through that first roll of film like they were handing it out at the soup kitchen. My mother was NOT pleased and it was the last roll of film I got for as long as I can remember, but it didn’t stop me from seeing the world in pictures.

My mother passed away when I was 19 and even though we weren’t even close at the time, It left a gaping hole inside of me that I would try and fill with drugs, alcohol and men for the next decade, mind you in the meantime I have become a mom, a wife, an ex-wife, a business owner but I was dying on the inside. I feel like throughout a lot of this chaos my photography is the only thing that kept me centered. Taking pictures got me out of myself, at least for the moment, but of course, it was only a hobby. In 2012, I stepped out of my comfort zone and did my first shoot for another family. This is something that I had no intention of doing, but I kept getting approached by people who would see shots of my own children asking if I would be willing to shoot theirs. So, this is where it all. began. I created this small photography business, I did family photos, engagement shoots, senior photos, I sold canvases of my art prints, I got a LOT of likes on Facebook, but that is about as far as it went. I had no technical training, just a great natural eye, a ton of passion, most importantly, major addiction issues. Four years ago, I found myself completely and utterly alone, living in a 5th wheel trailer. My children were staying with their father, I hadn’t slept in three days, I hadn’t touched my camera equipment in weeks, and I was having warm vodka for breakfast. I don’t know why that morning was different, but I knew that if I didn’t get help, I was going to die. Ok, right about now, you are probably thinking “DAMN… this shit is dreary!” But it gets better… I promise!

I was told that the only thing I had to change was everything. I can tell you that I was absolutely terrified. I quickly learned that all of this time I thought I had a drug and alcohol problem when in reality I had a thinking problem. The problem was between my ears… in my MIND! I had no coping skills and so I would spend the next year figuring out who the heck I was, what I wanted out of life, clearing up the wreckage of my past, righting the wrongs I had done and creating a clean slate for me to create my life on. Have you ever heard the phrase “rock bottom is the foundation I built my life upon”? Well not only did I hear it but I continue to live it out every single day. So, what has this done for my photography you ask? EVERYTHING! My new sober life over the last few years has given me the tools I need to focus all of my intellectual integrity and creativity on my work. I went back to school and am currently in my 3rd year as a Phi Theta Kappa member, majoring in commercial photography. I got certified in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I finally have the technical skills to match the pictures that have been haunting my brain since childhood. I am no longer wasting my gift, I am sharing it with the world.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, apparently, I jumped the gun with that last extravagant story, huh? No, the road was not smooth, but to be completely honest, I am grateful for every moment of it, as it helped shape the human that I am today. But we can discuss the current challenges and struggles. Today one of my only struggles is to find balance in my life. I tend to be an extremist and throw myself into things with both feet, so through my recovery, I have learned to find balance. Another thing that I struggle with, or maybe it is even a lesson, is that not everyone is going to love me and that is OK. I lived my whole life thinking that I needed to make the whole world love me like it was my job to make you like me. It’s not! So, as my life progresses, as I make decisions that are healthy for my future, for my career, for my family, I don’t need your approval. Sometimes I forget this, but thankfully I have some AMAZING people in my life who are there to remind me if I do forget. The road is pretty smooth when I am in alignment with myself.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Just Another Shot Photography story. Tell us more about it.
I am the heart and soul of Just Another Shot Photography. I started out with a point and shoot camera and today I’m shooting on medium format film, which I am developing in the darkroom myself. I feel like my photography has its own artistic flair because my style was created long before I was taught any of the rules of photography. Never having any limits or restrictions or guidelines really made me think out of the box to create the look that I wanted. Now that I am professionally trained, I get to incorporate that into my work. I dabble in all areas of photography from weddings, to headshots, to set photography. I recently have a new love in my life and she is a Mamiya RB67. I have been fortunate enough to learn hands-on developing techniques from an 85-year-old veteran and can be found in any free time of mine in the back of the darkroom. Another exciting new venture is that we will be working very closely with Jerry G Angelo’s new elite entertainment company “RokitPig”, which is set to launch next month,  so be on the look-out for very big things on that horizon. Really, I just LOVE what I do. It may sound corny but follow your dreams. I am living proof that anyone can make a comeback and not just survive but succeed doing the ONE thing that makes them completely and utterly happy! Just go for it…

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t really believe in luck. I feel like luck, is more or less an excuse. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in karma and synchronicities and all kinds of things that some might crinkle their noses at but luck is not one of them. This life that I have, I had to work for it, but I do know that when I am in alignment with myself like I mentioned before the right people and the right opportunities present themselves on daily. I am no longer plagued by the fear of taking that next step. Fear is the number one killer of dreams. So, as long as I keep goodness in my heart, and transmit a frequency of kindness, I don’t feel any luck will be necessary to bring my success to fruition.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Main Photo Credit- Jerry G Angelo
Photo #1- Behind the scenes shot
Photo #2 credit-Sage Nelson- Dance coach/personal trainer- Just Another Shot
Photo #3 subject-Kew- Black and white Film- Just Another Shot
Photo #4 Subject- My mama (me with my first camera at age 7)
Photo #5 subject-Joshua trees in the Mojave desert- Just Another Shot
Photo #6 subject – Long Exposure- Tehachapi CA- Just Another Shot
Photo #7 Subject- Jerry G Angelo – Actor/ Producer- Just Another Shot
Photo #8 Subject- Capitol Building- Washington DC- Just Another Shot

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1 Comment

  1. Suzanne Nelson

    December 5, 2019 at 18:35

    You’ve come a long way baby!! Not many get through it. You’ve come through like a shining star Courtney. Keep telling your story.

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