The Truth. . . Shall Start A Revolution.

The Truth. . . Shall Start A Revolution.

This is the rawest thing I have ever done publicly. This is my freedom. My only hope is to spread love and help others in need with this piece. Thank you for taking the time to read my truth.

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The Self-Doubt Monster Chronicles

What’s the most damaging attribute to have as a creative? DOUBT. 

Doubt is a tricky little monster that continues to pop up at the most inconvenient times. It’s an imagined scenario we play over and over in our minds, used as a survival technique. It truly doesn’t exist. This monster notoriously feeds on fear, worry, anxiety—tricking our minds into believing it is real.

Self-doubt is definitely something I have faced throughout my career as a photographer. It’s extremely scary to put original art, a piece of my soul, out to the world. I feel so vulnerable, but a big part of my drive comes from that scary vulnerable feeling.

Recently, I created a shoot where I dipped roses in paint and I hung them upside down. They were the main prop for the fashion shoot I was creating. I was inspired by my grandparents ceramic rose jar they always kept filled with sweet treats. I inherited this jar after they both passed. It holds so much nostalgia for me and currently holds candy on my coffee table! 

 ©2017 Taylor Lewis

©2017 Taylor Lewis

While I was starring at the colors mixed with the glossy smooth finish on the jar, my wheels started spinning into how I could interpret this. So I created it (pictured below). It was purely mine in this moment, my original idea . . . I put my beautiful new baby out to the world and felt exhilarated for 3 days. Then it happened—a friend of mine on Instagram tagged me in a photo posted on some big photo editing company with tons of followers—it was a rose dipped in paint with a similar hue of paint I chose. Has anyone else dipped a rose in paint before . . . duh, yes! But in that moment I felt my piece of art was discounted and the weight of how saturated our world is with imagery took ahold of me. How can I ever truly be innovative?

I burst into tears and my self-doubt monster came strolling in for a visit. I felt so defeated, and I began struggling with the concept that nothing can ever truly be original anymore. You can imagine where my brain spiraled from there—I will spare you my entire dissertation on this thought. 

Then something truly wonderful happened—after I was venting to a few close friends, one of my girlfriends Pilar told me, “Tay Tay, no one can dip a rose like you can dip a rose, and that my friend is what is going to set you apart. There is only one Taylor in this world, so double down on that.” She did so much for me by speaking these words of encouragement. This advice is golden. And, she is absolutely right!!

 ©2017 Taylor Lewis

©2017 Taylor Lewis

Nobody can do it like you can do it. Please remember this the next time your self-doubt monster comes in to take you out of reality. You are an original, so embrace the weightlessness of uncertainty and doubt and own your craft. The only person you need to prove yourself to . . . is YOU. The rest will fall in to place and people will gravitate to your art if it’s authentically you. 

 ©2017 Taylor Lewis

©2017 Taylor Lewis

As always, thank you for joining me on this journey inside the life of a creative. Together we are stronger, together we can make this trip a little bit lighter. If you want to talk or share any of your experiences with me, I am always game to start a conversation and help you problem solve. Email me at info@taylormarielewis.com

Xx

Taylor

Real Talk With Lynn Campbell

I am beyond excited to share my first “Real Talk” interview with Lynn Campbell. 

Lynn and I met for the first time two weeks ago at my apartment. Within the first five minutes, it felt like we already knew each other. We were laughing, cracking jokes, talking about our obsession with the show Vikings, and how we both love the roles Viking women perform in their culture. They were true warriors . . . just as important as the men both in battle and at home. Reminder—this was within five minutes of her walking through my front door!

This woman is a total powerhouse. Lynn has worked hard, knows who she is and what she wants in life. She radiates an energy and confidence that she can do anything. 

Lynn is a freelance producer working in print/still photography for the past 15 years. It was a natural progression from a 25 year career in commercial photography, wearing many hats along the way. Her clients have included Walgreens, Capital One, Pfizer and Purina, to name a few. 

Check out Lynn’s impressive work at her site, http://www.lcphub.com .

This interview is filled with useful insight from Lynn on her experience in the photography industry.  

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Lets get right to the real talk, shall we? 

1. What was your big ‘aha’ moment when you realized what you wanted to pursue in life? And, has it changed or evolved since that moment?

Lynn: I didn’t necessarily choose to be a commercial photography producer, I ended up here.

I studied fine art photography and dance. I went to San Fransisco State—received a BFA in photography but instead of adding a 2nd major I decided to just GET OUT!  I couldn’t keep working and going to school full time!

Through a series of stumbles and crazy events, I ended up in LA with $80 in my pocket and sleeping on my brother’s floor. L.A. felt so familiar.  I did not want to stay.  I wanted to leave and study social anthropology, but L.A. kept me. It grabbed me. L.A. has a way of swallowing you up, but not in a bad way.  

Producing was a slow burn growth. It never was a dream of mine. When it came to my photography career I accrued a lot of credit card debt . . . so much debt that I ended up just surviving. It was really hard to get ahead and the reality was I didn’t have the personality needed to be a commercial photographer. I was more into the art of photography, not the hustle. It was also financially troublesome at the time, so I just kept working. 

I began studio managing, then freelance photo assisting, and fell into producing after being asked, and deciding to say yes because I needed the money.

I think I’ve had multiple small aha’s in life, that have to do with how I was living and what I was learning. I feel like my life is my art, and the way I choose to live is my expression. My aha’s were not always easy to come by.  I found them in the middle of my daily situations and challenges on jobs. Working in the commercial photography world in L.A. was my life, and has been my main teacher. We chose each other. The aha moment is realizing I’m already in a perfect place. It’s about how you do things, and how you walk through life. That’s been my biggest gift, and is more important than ‘what’ I’m doing. 

2. Have you experienced discrimination based on your gender in the industry? If yes, how did you overcome these situations? Do you still face them today?

I’m such a “just show up and do the work” person, it’s hard to say. I do the tasks at hand, get it done and move on. When I was freelance assisting, there probably was some inequity but it was such a boys club back then, that I always felt like the “lucky gal”. I was strong so I had no problems. I always dug in, and I could carry my own weight, literally. The men I worked with asked to work with me because they knew I worked harder than some of my male counterparts.  That may have been a hint to some kind of discrimination?  “The girl does more for the same money” kind of thought…  

What I have noticed and what seems to still be a normal social structure, is the imbalance and inequality in the realm of negotiation. Men seem to be better at asking for “their worth” and fighting for it. I find that us Women are more natural team players and problem solvers, before hard line negotiators. The discrimination comes from anyone in power, consciously or unconsciously, taking advantage of that trait in women. The industry in general can be abusive, and there is an underlying “get what you can” mentality. There is no formalized structure on how business is handled, either. Luckily and maybe unluckily for some, in the freelance world each contract, each interface, is a new opportunity.  A trial by fire that you can scrap and learn from when you feel you messed it up.

Learning how to negotiate, stand up for your worth, and the ability to say “NO” or “I need this.” can be a big challenge.  As far as discrimination, I don’t feel it much because I take full responsibility for my life and choices.  I don’t see myself as unequal, but have I worked extremely hard to survive? Yes.  Have I found myself in abusive situations? Yes.  Maybe I am numb or blind but I continue to see myself as an equal. Within society I do see rampant misuse of power and abuses of power. There are subtleties of objectification that live in our society, which I think go way further than we realize. It effects all of us.

3. How did you breakthrough the threshold of being at a lower level in your career and taking it to the next level of success? Were there any defining moments where you had clarity on this new level of your career success?

Opportunities were presented and I just kept saying yes. I also found myself working with good people, so saying yes felt safe. When I was asked to produce, I did it more out of necessity than desire. I have always fought it, but I really do pretty well at it.

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 4. What advice can you pass on to other women in the creative industry? 

The art of negotiation. Do what is right for you. Know it is ok to do the job anyway. There is always something new to learn, whether you like the job or not. It will end up being a valuable lesson if it solidifies your passion or creates new relationships. Your survival and well-being should be your first priority. Always build on it, and grow. Be fair to yourself. Learn how clients work, and learn the value in everything; basically, know what is a negotiable. Know the value of your time, equipment and skills—people don’t always know what value is and can be arrogant about it.

Observe and watch how people interact with each other. When someone is in action, they are in their reality.  Just pay attention. Assisting is super valuable. It helps you learn about how to interface with people, do business, etc. 

Respect everyone. Learn the value of people and treat everyone as your equal—because they are!

When you know what the actualities are for completing a job, the break down of time and hard costs, you are learning a basic level of negotiation.

It is never a problem to say, “let me call you back”. This gives you a chance to think, write everything down, and assess the actual scope of the job.

One of my favorites, “Will you please pass the salt?” is used whenever giving someone your rate—you say it as if you are asking someone to pass the salt, and leave it. Say nothing else. Do NOT add explanations or justifications. If they come back to you with something lower, start asking more questions and step away again to rethink it. Let them know what they can get for that price. 

When you start to pencil everything out, you can see your negotiation and structure in real space and time. It’s the best way to really see what the costs are. Write it down!

You need to get the cost of everything. If you don’t know—ASK. 

Pay people, value people, show up on time. And, ALWAYS treat your assistants as though their time is just as valuable as yours—because it is. They are helping you!

The art of anything really lies in the details and nuance. The subtleties are where art really sings. Nurture and cultivate that part of you. Above and beyond production, you are part of the 5% that can see the world a certain way, and with specific detail. The practice of using your mind to see the details and separate it from yourself is a huge asset. Take the time and cultivate. Make it yours, do it deeper . . . do it more. 

5. What’s next for you on your journey?

I’ve had a really good run in production, but what I am doing is not who I am. I am more interested in being alive and living and loving well. 

I’m 49, at midlife, and I have other interests that have always been a part of me.  One is, I have a long standing spiritual practice that stems from my badger like desire to simplify pretty much everything. To find the root, and the truth of things.

I woke up to an email, with yet another returning client’s job falling through.  So I took a bath, and came up with a new business. Got a URL in late April and had my site built by May.  Life brought me to a point where I was able take a sabbatical from production.  Even though it was unplanned and a little frightening, it has turned into time for me to really change my reality. To move away from chasing and lacking, and convert that into expressing and contentment.  We’ll see how I do…

My new business is called Talk It Out L.A. (talkitoutla.com

I am still a producer. I’m not stopping any producing work, but this is a new outlet I am ready for. It’s one on one, on demand life coaching.  You just call or text me and we can be talking directly, asap or we can set an appointment.  A minimum session is 30 minutes and can be expanded as needed, while we are talking.  I am still working on the launch but hope to be fully up and running this fall.

A change in perspective can change your life. 

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—— 

WOW. Thank you Lynn for your inspiring words and for passing on advice we can all really use to become stronger in our fields. What I loved about this interview was her honest responses. She didn’t fluff anything up, she told her truth. Her story is a reminder that we don’t always need these massive “aha” moments to guide us. Sometimes it just comes from taking the next opportunity with good people. It’s about the journey and how we choose to live our lives on a path leading to true success. 

If you have any questions about this blog post or just want to reach out and chat please don’t hesitate to send an email to info@taylormarielewis.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Xx

Taylor

Women In Photography. Women . . . I'm With You.

 Photography by Blake Eiermann 

Photography by Blake Eiermann 

 Thank you Blake for capturing such raw and beautiful portraits of me. Go check out the gorgeous work of Blake Eiermann at  www.blakeeiermann.com

Thank you Blake for capturing such raw and beautiful portraits of me. Go check out the gorgeous work of Blake Eiermann at www.blakeeiermann.com

I have been resisting a blog for some time now. It’s been suggested that I write different blog posts about photography tips, etc., but I was left feeling unauthentic with every post I tried to create. I struggle trying to appeal to a targeted audience who have already read the same topics on every photographer’s blog, competing with other men and women, when all I really want is connection. I want truth, beauty, and justice among all the women in my industry fighting for a chance to be deemed “legit” and “worthy.”

I needed to write something that would weave a bond among women striving to make it in a world that can be cruel at times, and yet exhilarating with each step forward . . . each success. I continue to strive to be the best in my profession, and I want to help others navigate their path with the lessons I have learned so far.

I like wearing makeup, dressing up, and feeling beautiful. I love who I am without it all as well. I’m done pretending. There has been a strong theme playing over and over again in my mind since the election telling me to SPEAK OUT for women and STAND UP to all the negativity. I have been told to bury it somewhere and be tough like a man if I wanted to make it in a male dominated industry. 

I’ve heard it all: 

“You’re lucky you are so pretty.”

“He probably chose to work with you so he had some eye candy.”

“You wear converse? Oh, you must be a real dirty girl.” (Said to me as I am shooting for two male clients, no makeup—stripped of any hint of femininity . . . they still found something inappropriate to say).

“Why are you bending over like that? Are you trying to turn me on?” (As I am packing up gear and loading up equipment to move locations, sweating my ass off to make a paycheck).

“Man she has a nice ass” (as he steps away from me saying it loud enough for me to be aware).

“How did you get this job? Are you sure he doesn’t just want to sleep with you?” (said by a woman and from a man). 

“Just be careful Taylor, you never know what their real intentions could be with this job.” (from my mother).

“I think you have some real talent” (as his hand grazes my lower back). “You should be in front of the camera too” (staring at my mouth). 

“Who the fuck do you think you are?! Crumbles up invoice and throws it at me. “I’m not paying one penny of this!” Stands up and points his finger at my face. I fight back my pride for fear of being hurt, I fight letting him see me shake, because he doesn’t deserve it. We previously agreed upon the money owed and there were no surprises (or so I thought). 

Over time I’ve been beaten down by looking a certain way.  I either looked to young, too green, too business, too casual, too pretty. I have stopped wearing makeup, play down my appearance, and dress more ambiguous to force the person I am talking with to see ME, to see how talented and knowledgeable I am. I always have to be ready to spew all the technical details of all my equipment, software and technique when men have quizzed me so they felt I was legitimate or when they felt threatened. ANY hint of uncertainty and they were ready to POUNCE.

How do I sum up all the emotional blockage that has accumulated throughout my photography career thus far? Well, I’m just not going to do it. We are precious and powerful. We all deserve to have a network and sisterhood to help mend the blocks and harness our true creative energy we all were made to give this world. Our world needs us. 

One thing I find hard to comprehend is women competing against women. I can’t stand it when other female photographers try to alpha female me or make me feel unworthy of being at their “level.” But I don’t blame them either, they are fighters—and survivors. I need you, we need each other. This world deserves to delight and be served truth through a woman’s perspective.

THIS SEGREGATION MUST END. WOMEN, I don’t care what profession you are in, my experience is not unique, it has happened to all of us in one way or another. 

There has been a major shift happening in my life lately. I am no longer afraid to feel beautiful, to embrace the strong wild woman and powerhouse I am becoming. I am on a quest to dive into who I really am.

My focus is to help other women in my industry as well as any other female creators. I’m here to offer advice, help you tackle problems you may be having with lighting or software, and to offer any help I can to get you through an uncomfortable situation or to just listen and help you problem solve.

So, if you are new to the industry and want some real talk about what to expect when you move to Los Angeles, I would love to connect with you. If you have experienced any difficulties on your journey here and have overcome them, I would love to hear how you did it and pass it on to my readers. 

Well there it is . . . my pickled heart in a jar. 

Xx

Taylor

info@taylormarielewis.com