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QUEST10NS: Picture Me Happy founder, Tim Courtney

QUEST10NS: Picture Me Happy founder, Tim Courtney

QUEST10NS: Picture Me Happy founder, Tim Courtney

Tim gives us some expert photography tips (and suggestions for anyone with a sweet tooth.)

Professional photographer Tim Courtney has been taking pictures of celebrities for many years, with everyone from Queen Latifah and Maya Angelou to Bea Arthur and Greg Louganis posed at the end of his camera. In 2007, he decided to turn his lens in another direction by founding Picture Me Happy, a charity that brings art and creativity to Southern California children’s hospitals (photo, below).

“My goal, when I started Picture Me Happy was to provide some healing, happiness and a little bit of fun for hospitalized chronically and terminally ill kids,” explains Tim. “Recently I was asked to visit the room of an eight-year-old boy with cancer, to see if I could get him to participate in our photography workshop. I introduced him to the Polaroid camera we use and gave him some ideas of what to shoot and went back to the playroom with the other kids. Soon, the boy was rolling up and down the hall in his wheelchair taking pictures of everything and came to the playroom to get more supplies. The director of the hematology department later told me that was the first time the boy had left his room in three months. That’s why I do this.”

We got Tim, who is also an avid traveler, to put down his camera long enough to answer our 10 Questions:

1. Where did you go on your last trip?
In May, I did a two-week Trans-Atlantic Crystal Cruise as a photography lecturer, from Miami to Lisbon, with stops in Bermuda and Ponta Delgada. I then extended my travels to the great cities of Munich and Berlin.

2. What is your favorite memory from it?
The entire trip was incredible, with many highlights. My favorite memories would be of the wonderful people I met, and the most excellent coffees and pastries they served, while filming my upcoming TV show, “Good Coffee Good Friends.”

3. Where is the most picturesque place you've been?
That’s a challenging question. How to narrow it down? Napali Coast in Kauai; Alaska’s Glacier Park (above); Prague; Paris!

4. Of everywhere you've visited where would you most likely say that this is where "I could picture me happy"?
You could Picture Me Happy in Paris! It’s a city renowned for its creations in fashion, style, architecture, art, music, culinary, etc. And, the coffee and pastries are superb! Paris feels like home, its reminds me of who I am, and who I can be. Paris rejuvenates me and ignites my spirit in so many ways.

5. What kind of camera do you travel with?
If I travel for work I will usually take a Nikon D4S, if it’s for pleasure my iPhone6 works well for what I will want to do with the images.

6. What advice would you give to an amateur photographer about taking the perfect vacation photo?
Make yourself aware of your light source(s). Where is the light coming from and best falling upon your chosen subject? You will get a better travel photo by positioning yourself close to the light source, and most importantly taking the shot from the very same direction in which the light is falling upon your subject. Keep in mind, most outdoor photos are going to look best when shot in the mornings or late afternoon/early evening, versus mid-day.

7. It seems you like coffee and pastries. Where in your travels did you have the best dessert/pastry and what did you have?
I most certainly indulge in the best of pastries! I have friends who tell me they gain weight on my vacations, via my fb postings of pastries. Paris and Vienna get my top vote for outstanding pastry. Chocolate and custard always rate high on my list. Paul in St. Germaine, the Millefeuille chocolat and Larnicol, for a warm assortment of Kouignette are some of my must have favorites that I will be bringing along for the flight back to LA next month. Ooo la la!

8. Which of the celebrities you've photographed would you most wish you could travel with?
Maya Angelou, Ian McKellen and Tom Ford.

9. Airport: do you normally arrive early or make a mad dash to the plane?

10. Where will you go on your next adventure?
Next month I will be in Paris. I like to make it my annual fall trip.

For more information on Picture Me Happy or to donate, go to

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Bryan Van Gorder