We had the good fortune of connecting with Lizzy Barrett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lizzy, why did you pursue a creative career?
First and foremost, I love people. I love talking with people, listening to them, and forming those connections that go beyond the surface level. I also always loved taking mental photos. I didn’t buy my first camera until my senior year of high school, so whenever I saw something I wanted to capture – light, colors, moments – I would conscientiously blink and pretend I was taking a mental photo (I still do that to this day). So I knew for a long time that I wanted a career that allowed for creativity, activity, and variance in the day to day. I didn’t, however, think I could have a career as a photographer (or videographer) for a while because I hadn’t seen any women around me doing it. It wasn’t until my dad sent me an article about an incredible female photographer that I was like, “oh! Maybe I can actually make a living as a photographer [or videographer] then.” That was the first time I started to understand the importance of representation in media – both in front of the camera and behind it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve worn a lot of different hats in the visual media landscape. I started mainly as a photographer, working on my college newspaper. With guidance from some incredible individuals, I started to improve my technical abilities, landed an internship that turned into a freelance client, and continued to gain momentum, all while getting my college degree.
I got to photograph music festivals and concerts, large sporting events and speaker series, food and portrait shoots for magazine spreads, and travels during college. I started making videos around the same time, but focused more heavily on stills.
After college, I had a photo internship with Major League Baseball in New York, and started doing freelance photography for the Elizabeth Warren for President Campaign, traveling around the US, photographing campaign events. The fall after my graduation, I started freelancing with Getty Sports and took a full-time position at a marketing agency in Boulder, creating their media and helping to run the media team.
When the pandemic hit, I realized I needed to make a shift. I wanted to create media that supported causes and movements I cared deeply about. That’s when I left my job in Boulder and started working on my current project in Omaha, NE. “Divisible”, my current project, is a documentary series that explains the history of redlining in our country, and dives into areas where it’s still impacting lives today. The project uses Omaha as a case study to examine how this played out on a national scale.
Starting this project was a huge leap of faith, to say the least. I was leaving the comfort of a consistent pay check to chase a passion project in the middle of a major recession and global pandemic. It was a huge risk and there were many points where I wasn’t sure if it would even work, let along be worth it. But despite the difficulties and the learning curve, it has been the absolute best decision I have ever made.
I’ve learned so much through this process – not just about documentary filmmaking and all the behind the scenes needed to get it done, but also about myself. It opened my eyes up to where my “zone of genius” is, and forced me to have confidence in myself like I’d never had to have before. I figured out that I’m really good at information gathering and weaving it all into a digestible story. I also developed an ability to make people feel comfortable in front of a camera, even when talking about difficult topics. But most importantly, I really realized the importance of having intentionality behind my work.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I was back in Boulder (I’m currently sitting in a café in Omaha, on production), I would make sure get in a sunrise hike of the flat irons, and throw in a sunset at Lost Gulch while we’re at it. I would also insist on going to T/aco’s happy hour at least once, if not twice. If we were feeling bougie, we would have to go to Rosetta Food hall as well.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m a fundamental believer in “ubuntu,” a Bantu term that roughly means “I am who I am because of you”. I can say with 100% confidence that I would not be able to do what I do today without the support, advice, inspiration, and push from so many amazing individuals. First and foremost, I have to thank my family, friends, and partner for always being such a reliable support system (I’m really lucky). I would also be remiss to not thank my mentors or bosses for being my teachers – Maddie, Toan, John, Al, Elsa, Alex, Jim, Rachel, Hope, Kohar, Sally, and Andy. Lastly, I want to acknowledge and thank every woman who were first to walk through different industry doors and hold them for other people to come along. I hope to be as much help to other women (and under-represented communities in media) as my mentors were to me.