Today we’d like to introduce you to Carol Matlock.
Hi Carol, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in photography.
Landing a photography job right out of school with a small paper near Pittsburgh was a dream since my focus in AIP was to be a photojournalist. Shortly after that I had an opportunity to move to Florida and that sounded like an adventure so I left that position and moved south. Youth!!
In the ’80 all the top photographers had full-time assistants and I got very lucky landing that one position with Gordon Myhre. He taught me more in two weeks working with him than the two years of art school.
Working as a photo assistant for a few years, a friend of mine asked me to help her in the darkroom within the studio she was working at. I have no idea the studio name but I remember there was this woman and every time I’d leave the darkroom I’d see her walking around this large studio. She’d be giving everyone instructions, directing the models, approving sets and signing my daily time card. She had this large office and I thought to myself – that’s what I want to do! Because I was so young and didn’t know any better, I walked into her office, sat down, and proceeded to say “I don’t know what your title is but I know I want to have an office and run the show.”
To this day, I have no idea her name but I remember her telling me how she got her position as studio manager and all her job responsibilities. I was determined to make that happen for myself.
The majority of my career has been within creative departments ( and having an office ) as a full time employee. Freelance was something I wanted to try so ten years ago I thought to myself ” If not now, when?”
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I decided to be my own boss with years of production knowledge but freelancing was a different ballgame and I didn’t have many connections. While trying to make contacts and gain insight I worked in many of the departments on set. I’m so thankful for those opportunities because I feel this gives me an edge as a producer.
It took a while to navigate the freelance business and though I had a lot of experience when I decided to work for myself it was a challenge finding my footing.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
The majority of my career has been in still photography. I’ve produced thousands of shoots both large and small. Once I went freelance I started to produce motion I love it all. I’ve also stage managed and there is a real thrill to live production with a live audience.
Fortunately for me, working in different departments when I first started on my own gives me a greater understanding of departmnts needs. Attention to detail is crucial and problem-solving skills are very important to have as a producer. Staying calm and being prepared is key.
At times I’d be on a great project but with a not so great budget. This dilemma has led me into another department – location scout & manager. I really enjoy the challenge of finding the right building, park, or pool whatever the request is. Necessity led me to be creative and solve budge challenges.
I strive to have a happy client and crew. It’s important to me that the crew is treated with as much respect as the client is. My goal with every new job is for the production to be as seamless as possible, on or under budget and everyone happy to be on set.
Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
Support the crew with as much information as you can. Clear communication across all departments and check in often to see what they may need to be successful.
It’s okay to ask questions. Production is very expensive and I don’t believe in “fake it ’till you make it” in this business. You must be prepared as best as possible .
You can learn something from each project. Even if what you learn isn’t about the production or job – in other words, look for lessons. Most importantly, be kind to everyone.
I just started this practice; at the end of each job I send an email or text thanking each person. I want everyone to know they were appreciated.
I’m so thankful for all the people I’ve had an opportunity to work alongside. To me this business is a real privilege to be part of and I’m grateful.