Instasize: So, everybody tuning in, we are here with Lisa from the Instagram handle @bylisalinh.
Lisa Linh: Hello.
IS: Thank you for joining us in Cuba.
LL: Thank you for having me.
IS: I know it's been quite the adventure. The humidity is intense, but you guys have all handled it so, so well and we're very appreciative of you joining us. So if you could kind of sum up your Cuba experience in three words thus far, what would they be?
LL: Exciting. Humbling. And I would say, this is not one word, but kind of like a learning lesson of some sorts.
IS: A learning lesson?
IS: There's a lot that goes into traveling to Cuba that I don't think people are fully aware about. And I know it's very difficult to travel into Cuba. Is this your first time being here?
LL: Yes, it is.
IS: Amazing. So is there any specific shooting location that stood out to you while we were out?
LL: Honestly, just walking through town. Yeah, for me, I have more of a photographer eye I believe, or I don't even know if that's worded correctly. But it's just me looking at just capturing people in their most candid and natural moments versus having to go and pose or whatever. I love capturing content where it's in the moment and then that way I can explain the story behind the photos.
IS: Amazing. The next thing I was going to bring up was your creative process, because obviously we've been following you around the past three days and watching you create. So what is it that you look for when setting up a shot specifically?
LL: The storyline. So for me, I have a very creative imagination, so if I'm seeing two children and out on the street playing and there's a beautiful light in the back behind them, it's just a very natural moment that shows the innocence of a childhood. Or just how great it is to be outside, because obviously our generation is so hooked on social media and technology that you don't see kids playing outside anymore. More like how I grew up, and being able to see that here has been really great. Being disconnected has been actually really amazing.
IS: So what do you shoot with?
LL: I shoot with a Nicon Z6 and then I also do a couple of film cameras.
IS: Now do you share your film on social? Have you ever thought about maybe starting a separate account or do you share that on your Instagram? Or is that kind of just your own personal hobby?
LL: I actually do share some shots. So I mainly share it through blogs. So when I do travel guides lately I've been using the film shots over digital just because I love the tones and the moods and the cap ... It's so much easier to carry a film camera, especially like a point and shoot film camera versus a DSLR, which is heavy. So they mainly go on the blog and some of the times they go on my Instagram feed. Most of the time, the tones from the film camera matches perfectly with my feed, so there'll be on there.
IS: Amazing. Okay, speaking of feed. So first impressions are everything. And looking at your Instagram page, it's very clear that you're extremely creative, your outside-the-box thinker. It's why we brought you here, we love the content you create.
LL: Thank you.
IS: But what would you want, a new follower visting your page, what would you want their first impression of you to be?
LL: That I'm human.
IS: That you're human.
LL: So, like I do list on my bio that I'm all about self-growth and mental health awareness, and I want people to understand that you don't need to be perfect. That it's okay to have mistakes and flaws and even what you see on Instagram obviously is never 100% real. It's filtered, it's curated, it's Photoshopped-
IS: Love it.
LL: ... and it is completely fine to be 100% yourself. And that's what makes you unique.
IS: Magnifique. So it's a common issue in your field, I've talked to several influencers who've kind of touched on this. Finding yourself in a creative funk, have you ever experienced something like this?
LL: Yeah, all the time. I love writing, so I get writer's block and just the same I get creator's block or creative block. And it gets really frustrating, especially when you're expected to create every single day, you're expected to upload. And over the last four years of being in this industry, I've learned how to just set boundaries and if I don't feel like shooting that day, I won't shoot. If I do have a campaign and I don't feel like shooting, we'll just try to do something quick and easy, not put too much pressure on it because we want it to be as organic and natural as possible.
IS: Okay. And so have you done anything in particular to help you break out of that creative funk, learned any new processes?
LL: Yeah, so this year we started doing a lot more stop motions. We initially did a couple, just a few for our campaigns back in 2014. And we started doing it more heavily this year just so that I can capture more of the moment, versus looking at a still photo you can actually see me interacting in some sort of way.
IS: Okay. So in my line of work I obviously keep a lot of eyes on social trends. Do you notice a lot more people switching to video or doing more video concepts on the feed on stories? What have you noticed?
LL: Well, I've noticed that I'm more attracted to video so a lot of the people I follow now are more videographers than anything, and I just get inspired by them. And I've been following more stop motions and less of the fashion and the travel.
IS: Do you want to shout out any videographers out there that you look forward to inspiration?
LL: Andy To is definitely one of them for sure. Andy To and his fiance, Jaylin, are amazing together. They do awesome work. I love them. I actually can't wait to meet them next month, so excited.
IS: In New York, right?
LL: Yes, in New York.
IS: So exciting. I guess during this process in Cuba, had you known any of the girls prior to making it here to shoot with us?
LL: Yeah, LA travel girl, which is Layla. I've met her a couple of times. We did celebrity cruises together and she's just been so sweet.
IS: I love it. That's one thing that I've definitely noticed doing creator tours is the synchronicity of creators we work with and just watching them do stuff together is really cool. Because I feel like that's not a common thing, at least on like press tours and what have you. So it's great watching you guys interact. We personally get a kick out of it.
LL: It's been so fun.
IS: So doing amazing, we love it. How do you refer to yourself when talking about what you do for a career? When it's meeting new people, your family?
LL: I would say blogger, just because I do write and I have a blog and I had the blog before I had the Instagram. And writing has always been my passion to my parents though because they're from Vietnam, they don't really understand what I do, so they just think I'm a model.
IS: Do they follow you on Instagram? Do they have Instagram?
LL: Unfortunately, yes.
IS: My mom-
LL: It's kind of creepy.
IS: She literally reacts to every single thing I post on stories. It's very cute, but I get excited when I get DMs and they're from my mom.
LL: They never interact with me. They just watch my stuff and then when I go visit them, they're like, "Oh, I saw that you were with so-and-so the other day." It was really creepy one time that I brought them to meet my friend, I invited him to lunch. And she goes, "Aren't you the guy in her photo the other day?" I was like, "Where did you see this photo?" Like, what?
IS: They are keeping tabs on you.
IS: What is the biggest misconception about your field of work?
LL: That it's so easy. And people don't think of it as a job and I would honestly say a nine to five job is easier than what we do, because they don't realize the behind the scenes.
LL: Actually, my first two or three years I was working basically 24 seven because you're a creative director, you're a photographer. Well, for me, I'm photographer. Then you got the post-processing. You're doing analytics so you're generating reports, you're your own marketer. You're your own promoter, your own accountant. And then chasing after invoices is always fun. But yeah, you're literally one person running a whole entire business and if you're fortunate enough to grow your business to get assistant and really get a full team, that's amazing. But I would say majority of us are just doing it on our own.
IS: I was going to say, do you work with a team or is it just you?
LL: It's me, my boyfriend, and I'm fortunate to have amazing manager that I annoy every single day. Shout out to Rick.
IS: But when it comes to creating the content, it's just you and your boyfriend, your partner sometimes?
IS: Wow. So that is a lot to kind of handle.
IS: I know, being out here, I mean there are days where we wake up at 7:00 AM and we're not back to the hotel until seven, 8:00 PM.
IS: So the days are extremely long, but you manage it very, very well.
IS: Aside from creating content full time, is there anything else that you're also balancing?
LL: Yeah. So currently I just started grad school about three months ago, so I'm getting my Master's in marriage and family therapy and that's a four to five year process. So I got a long way to go.
IS: So that was going to ... bleeds into my next question perfectly. I was going to say is Instagram, can you imagine Instagram four, five years down the road, still being a part of your life in conjunction with what you're doing?
LL: I mean, yeah, I think it'll still be around, but I just don't know if another platform is going to pop up and try to compete. You never know in this industry and I really can't say. And at this moment I'm just focusing on what I can and what I can possibly do with what I have.
IS: Amazing. And then to close this off, I wanted to have you brush on what you think is either the best or worst part of social media. You can touch on both. You could pick one and roll with it, whatever you feel like.
LL: The best part is always meeting new people. There's no way in hell I would have met half my friends that I've met without going on these press trips or through blogging and being able to connect with them on a creative level. And it makes you feel good that you're not alone. Like having people to express your problems with in the industry that's still relatively new is great. So I love the connection that Instagram has brought me. Downside obviously is that we don't have any control over that. It's not ours. At the end of the day, if it crashes, we can't do anything about it. And it's a little scary, not having control over that. And that's why I still have my blog and still focus heavily on that. That would be the downside, that we have no control over our social media platform.
IS: And we have brought this up in the office before, how Instagram has kind of monopolized itself. Any content you put on Instagram is just owned by this Instagram island, right? You're kind of at the mercy of the algorithm. There's all this talk about the scary algorithm. Do you keep up with that or how do you balance the constant changes to Instagram?
LL: Well, I do follow Later's blog.
LL: They're always up to date with their social media stuff. And I mean, I play it by ear. There are a lot of things that are myths and there are a lot of things that are just more hearsay and you never really know what's working and what's not working. You don't even know if the algorithms real. So it can also just be your content is shitty and maybe that's why people aren't following and nobody wants to hear that.
IS: Preach, preach. Awesome. Well, if you guys want to check out Lisa's work, her blog link and her Instagram handle will be somewhere in the description below. But Lisa, thank you so much for sitting down with us.
LL: Thank you so much.
IS: We love, we can't wait to see what you continue to create and hope we see you on future tours.
LL: Yes. Thank you.
Connect with Lisa Linh on Social
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