Brynn Isom has worked in the industry for more than 20 years, running her own production and talent companies, but it was during her 10-plus years working as a producer and art buyer for Neiman Marcus that the Texas native had her “aha” moment.
“From the scheduling, the traveling, the assembling of the crew, the optioning, the rate management, to the invoice sharing — I just saw that every single person listed on these productions, they were doing their dream job, but they were unhappy,” says the entrepreneur.
“I started asking why they were so unhappy…and they said, ‘We don’t even have time to do our dream job. By the time we get to the shoot, we’ve already exceeded the time we’re getting paid for on the shoot just figuring out what we’re doing, where we’re going, who we’re working with, what concept we’re actually shooting, and then trying to keep up withe expenses,'” she continues. “So I started just writing down all these pain points.”
Her solution was Lenspire, a digital platform that aims to simplify the production workflow through consolidated, centralized communication and automated administrative tasks, such as payments and credit logging.
“Our job is minute-to-minute, day-to-day — a different project every day sometimes — and so we just really wanted to simply work for every single one of those roles and let them show up, do the shoot — feel empowered because we’ve taken out this inefficiency — and then be able to do their best work,” she says.
The platform’s server is hosted by Amazon and taps into API developed by other companies; payments on the system are made using Veem, a payment system similar to Venmo. Haney soft-launched the platform, which she has been developing for over eight years, last month. From concept to launch, Haney notes that technological literacy — and comfort — within the industry has changed in a way that is beneficial for Lenspire.
“People are using technology a lot more now than when I started this project,” she says, adding that one of her company’s investors built a similar model for the home building industry. “When I started Lenspire it was before Instagram,” Haney continues. “Facebook was there, but it was more of a social thing. And then there were not many workflow solutions at all for other industries. A lot of apps have been updated and changed, and I feel like a lot of those have taught us what works and doesn’t work.”
She also stresses that while the platform is built for efficiency, the idea is to not disrupt or replace any jobs; rather, she feels that having a simplified workflow lets producers tape into their real value: negotiating, managing crew relationships and budgets and finding new locations for shoots. The company’s logo — a wink — riffs on the importance of collaboration: when a photographer closes an eye behind the lens to take a shot, it represents a cumulative effort.
“That wink has the magic of every single member listed on that crew page,” she says.