Born in a small town called Hinckley in Illinois, she was raised as an only child to parents who worked a farm. First it was cows, then it was corn, then a discrepancy as to whether or not the family actually wanted to own the farm.
In the end, they decided to move closer to Chicago, to a town called Geneva in the Fox River valley.“I’m so glad we did,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine what I’d be like if we’d stayed in Hinckley. Once I was in Geneva, I was just a step away from Chicago.”
Lynne attended the Patricia Stevens Career College in Chicago while still in high school, riding the train into the heart of the “Chi” by herself at a young age. She wanted to be a model, but soon found out she just wasn’t comfortable in front of the lens. But being behind it was a different story.
“When I graduated from high school I didn’t go to college, I immediately moved to Chicago and worked as a receptionist,” she said. “Basically we were just hippies, running wild in the city. It was 1969 and there was a lot going on. The police were after the kids, the Democratic Convention exploded, there were be-ins in the park and Jefferson Airplane playing. We followed The Flock (a Chicago-based jazz-rock band), and I even went out with Freddie Glickstein ...”
Lynne developed pneumonia at one point, and had to move back home for a time. When she was well her parents told her it was time to make her own way in the world.
“I moved down to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea I didn’t really know how to do anything, but someone must have been looking out for me. I ended up at a resort, where I walked in and asked for a job. I had no training, had never worked in a restaurant. They must have felt sorry for me, and said, ‘You can be the relish girl.’ I walked around to the tables, basically giving out carrots. It was a place sort of like an Inn, and across the street they had a row of bungalows where staff could live. It was perfect, I had a roof over my head, I got meals there, and they trained me how to work in a restaurant.”
After a bit of training as a server, young Lynne thought she would go where the money was.
“I had a fake ID, and Joe Namath had a club in Fort Lauderdale,” she said. “I wanted to make more money, so I went and worked there at Bachelor’s 3.”
She was only there a short time before she heard about an ad in the newspaper. Playboy was doing a bunny search in Miami, and Lynne and a few friends headed there to try their luck. They were hired, but Lynne had to confess about her being underage.
“They said, ‘That’s OK, you can go back up to Chicago or Geneva and we’ll hire you there.’ I didn’t want to go back to the city, but I loved Geneva. So in the middle of winter I moved back up north to become a Playboy Bunny. And it was the best hospitality training I ever had. Hefner ran that place like it was the Army. You couldn’t go out on the floor without being inspected. Hair, nails, runs in stockings, everything was checked. Even being a coat check girl, with it being a private club a guy would hand you $100. Even so, I finally got burned out after about a year. It was hard work. Serving drinks in spike heels, even that young, it was hard. But it was great training, I even learned to be a sommelier, and I learned a lot of things that were helpful.”
Lynne decided to come back to Florida, where she met a man in the music business and ended up going to Los Angeles with him. They were in Topanga Canyon, it was the early 1970s, and she was living in a Volkswagen camper in Spanky McFarlane’s backyard.
That’s Spanky, as in Spanky and Our Gang, a ‘60s folk rock band. Spanky knew everybody, and wherever Spanky went, Lynne usually did, too.
“I remember going to Hollywood with her to parties, and Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan would be passed out in the corner,” she said. “We were friends with Linda McGuinn, who used to be married to Roger McGuinn who started The Byrds, we hung out with the guys from the Eagles before they were famous ... we even met Willie Nelson before he was famous.”
Eventually Lynne decided to go to school. She went to college in L.A., studying photography. She had since broken up with her old boyfriend, and was dating a man who was a documentary filmmaker. When he asked if she wanted to go on location with him in New Zealand, she went. Not only did she shoot still photography work on the project, which was about an Olympic marathon runner trainer, she cooked and cleaned for the crew and did odd jobs.
When she returned to Hollywood she started shooting for advertisements. Eventually she also got into shooting portraits, and has worked with Robert Redford, Diane Keaton, Jackson Browne, Michael Keaton and Fleetwood Mac.
Her need to do more long-term projects became greater, and she started looking for more and more work on films. That’s what led her to eventually working on a movie called “The Serpent and the Rainbow,” where her interest in voodoo began.
She stayed in Haiti for awhile, then in the Dominican Republic, all the while trying to get a chance to shoot an actual voodoo ritual. It wasn’t easy, to say the least.
“I had been in the D.R. for a couple months and was ready to go back to New York,” she said. “I had to go to L.A. first, and someone told me to stop in New Orleans and get some pictures there. I didn’t have a lot of luck but, as I was leaving town, the man who ran a voodoo museum said I should go check out a particular cemetery where Marie Laveau was buried. He told me to cast a spell, say a prayer and make a wish there, and I did. I asked Marie if she could help me photograph voodoo in Haiti.”
Whether she was guided by Marie’s hand or it was just fate, on her next trip to Haiti, her luck changed.
“I was just driving around and started spotting houses with paintings on them, and crosses,” she said. “I would run up, take a picture, then run back to car because I was a little afraid. Then I saw this place going into St. Mark, a pink building, with people dressed in white in front. It just looked something was happening. I talked to them, and one guy spoke Spanish, which I speak, so I asked if I could make some pictures there.”
Some of the photos she took there have become world-wide sensations ... but there’s more.
As she left, driving back to St. Mark, she happened to look up and see a colorful yellow and pink building.
“I got out of the car, and just as I got the camera ready to soot a little boy peeked out from behind one of the columns in front. I made that photograph, and it was really the only photograph I took that I feel ended up being of any consequence. It was made into postcards, and I sent one of them to Robert Redford. He was making a film in Havana , and I wanted that job. I got that job. Things happened because of that picture.”
That job also paved her way to more shoots in Haiti, and eventually moving back to the States. She had a son, realized how difficult it was to continue to work on location with a baby, and started to settle down into a different direction.
Lynne decided it was time to start writing down her adventures in Haiti, and attended the University of Arizona to study writing. Her teacher, a man named Allen Harrington, was a peer of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.
“He gave me confidence to keep writing,” she said. “And I have kept writing, I’m still working on that book. Now, more than ever, Haiti is changing. I’ve always wanted to publish a book about it, not only about voodoo but the people, and the culture.”
Lynne currently lives just off-island with her son, Sam, and loves the peace of the area.
“I have always loved the peace and quiet here,” she said. “The way I feel about Boca Grande is kind of the way I felt about Haiti. It’s obviously not as intense, but I’m at peace here, just as I was there. I am inspired by this island to photograph every day, just as I was in Haiti ... which hasn’t happened for me in a really long time.”
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