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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing from you!