The #successseries is a collection of interviews that feature incredible women who have challenged the notion of success in pursuit of happiness.
Peruse through the portfolio of incred Melbourne portrait photographer Lecinda Ward and you’d be forgiven for thinking she’d been doing this since day dot - her work is breathtaking. Lecinda perfectly captures the mixed emotions of new parents, newlyweds, small business owners + entrepreneurs and is the warm and bubbly smile you need when you’ve got no f*cking idea what you’re doing.
But, Lecinda hasn’t always worked as a photographer. She practiced law for four years and battled constant feelings of inauthenticity, creative deprivation and a constant tug that she should be doing something else with her life.
I sat down with Lecinda to meet the woman behind the lens and understand how one of Melbourne’s top photographers came to be.
OK, talk me through your law career – when and how did you realise it wasn’t for you?
Photo Credit : Chris Allsop Photography
World domination begins. You’re early in your business and people are already paying you for your work, did you struggle with Imposter Syndrome?
I did but not in the way you would imagine. I felt like a huge fraud when I was working as a lawyer and running my photography business. I kept my two worlds completely separate and was terrified they would collide.
I worried that photography would attract cynicism from my law colleagues and that my photography clients would see me as being inauthentic. I felt like I was leading a double life and it became my dirty little secret which brought with it immense shame, overwhelming guilt and all-consuming fear about what people would think.
What was your f*ck it moment when you knew something had to change?
One night after work I had a panic attack at home. My anxiety had been steadily rising and I remember lying next to my husband sobbing uncontrollably about work and not wanting to go in the next day. He turned to me and told me that enough was enough and that it was my time to get out of there and pursue what was making my happy full time. He said ‘quit’ and the next day I did.
It was not without its challenges. The whole experience was a clusterf*ck of emotions where I felt a combo of relief and guilt for days after. I felt like a failure, like I was letting my boss down, my colleagues down and myself down. I felt stuck and wanted to fix it for everyone but realised the only person I could fix it for was me and that meant getting comfortable with my decision to resign.
Wow, you’re brave! What impact has your career change had on your life?
It’s impacted everything. Everyday I wake up and get paid to do what I’m passionate about and get to work with love, not against it. Photography has completely changed the way I now see the world – I appreciate every moment, am able to see beauty in everything and see and take the time to celebrate the little things. I am much more confident now and I am so much happier. And… my eyes bright and sparkly eyes are back!
Hold up pretty lady, your eyes have changed?
Yep! Ever since I was a kid my eyes have changed colour with my mood. I stopped paying attention to this when I was a lawyer and it wasn’t until a few weeks after I quit that I saw a photo of myself and couldn’t believe the beacons of sunshine beaming out of my face! I compared the pic with one from my law days and saw that they were dull, flat and lifeless. Eyes really are the window to the soul.
Since working in your business full-time, what’s been the biggest challenge?
Finding time to do everything. As a small business owner you wear many hats – the creative, marketeer, social guru, finance manager, ops director – it’s a real juggle!
Time management is a constant challenge for me but I’ve learned to accept that I can only do as much as I can do and that I need to prioritise the things that can’t slide and the things that can.
What advice would you give other women who are feeling stuck?
Can I leave you with three things? We’d love that.
1) Make decisions for you and not for other people.
2) Be patient with yourself in finding your purpose and developing your craft. My first 100,000 photos were terrible but I persevered and bridged the gap between my ambition and my ability to create a thriving business. Here’s a little pep talk that has always pulled me through.
2) Pursue happiness and trust that success will follow.