We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erika, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I knew photography was a passion when I was about 23. I loved capturing moments with my family, especially candid ones. As the years went by, I was often told I had an eye for taking pictures. At first it was for fun then one day my sister asked me to take pictures of her event, and everything came out beautiful! As a full time, Latina, First-generation graduate student, mom, wife, photographer and entrepreneur, I wanted to do something I enjoyed and could manage to do while wearing these different hats.
I am majoring in Marriage and Family Therapy, and photography is like being in the therapy room. Beginning with what the vision is, what is being captured? What is the goal? Then, the process of capturing the relationship between the individuals being photographed. Is the dance a waltz, a tango or a rage? Then finally, after the work has been done, I get to see the beauty of the results.
I love being able to see through a lens and capture a memory for people. It is like holding a moment in time. So, the next day the same image is seen, and you are looking into the past. You are holding a tangible memory in your hands. Whether it is a graduation, welcoming a baby or a proposal, you will always be able to relive that moment, through a picture.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
We all have a story of how we got to where we are today. I love reflecting on where I was 15 years ago. And if someone would have asked me if this is what I envisioned in the future, I would tell them I was way off. Being here though, was not a walk in the park. I overcame being in a dark place of Alcoholism through my faith and changing the people and environment I was in. But most importantly I had to make time and do the work to heal from past wounds and trauma. It is not easy work, but it was work I desired to be free.
It is important for me to represent and continue to pave the way for the communities I represent. Usa tu voz! Using my voice and the power I have has been one the greatest tools to overcome adversity. When someone tells me I couldn’t because I didn’t have the vocabulary or when I was in academic settings, and I would be given the easiest task because I was the only Latina in the group. When I was pregnant at CSULB I asked if there were any support groups as resources for me as a first-time parent and was immediate directed to the “food stamp lady.” These are some examples of the hurdles that can happen but USA TU VOZ, do not stay quiet.
Balancing being a first-gen latina Graduate student at the University of Southern California, the first in my family to go to Graduate school, running a business, a mom of two, a wife and the other roles I serve in my life, is no easy feat. But si se puede! I am standing on shoulders of those who came before me, and pioneering the way for those to come.
Through the years there have been many lessons. Some harder than the others but lessons, nonetheless. Do the work, if you start something finish it, focus on your goals instead of envying others. But the best lesson is to LOVE others. The bible says it is pointless to do things without love. How can I love capturing love but not practice it? How can I love helping others in a Therapy room but can’t show love to a fellow human asking for a dollar? Whatever success, career, volunteer work or any other space you’re in, if it is not done with love then why are we doing it in the first place? “Love God, Love people, in that order.”
Imago Dei means God’s Image. Today in age the image of who we are has been distorted. The world tells us we have to follow a stencil, a one shoe fits all, but we aren’t product produced in mass quantities, we were uniquely woven together. Each strand perfectly hand crafted by our Creator. Our identity is in who God says we are. Another part of the heart behind this business that everyone who sees what is captured through the lens is beauty, because God sees you as perfect in His eyes. Why do we capture monumental moments? Beauty? Nature? It was intended for us to be delighted, because He delights in us.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh my gosh! Where to I begin! Well, we would start in my hometown, the city by the sea, Long Beach! We would coffee hop the whole city from Ground Hideout to Coffee Drunk and more! Probably hit the thrift shops because LB has many great thrift finds! We would definitely go to Disneyland for sure that would be a whole day Park hopping. Then we would beach hop one day, begin at Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, then drive down PCH stroll all the way to Santa Monica catch the sun and the waves and end at Urth Cafe. We would dedicate two days on going on a Malibu Hike and then the Hollywood sign another day. The last few days could be exploring Laguna Hills, which is one of my favorite places to hike, hit the beach then end at Urth in Laguna. It would be an outdoors nature exploring type of beach!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Firstly, God, all glory praise and honor to Him. I am only able because He has enabled me to do what He has called me to do. His grace, His glory. Secondly, my husband Anthony. I could write a whole story about him but without his support I would not be where I am today. From the very beginning he has supported every dream and every wild idea. He has always believed in me and that makes me incredibly brave to go after the things God has for us. Thank you for carrying us on your shoulders boom I love you! Next is my village, my family. They have been so encouraging and loving through every phase of my education and business building. Especially my sisters, Belen, Daisy and Elena, My mom, Patsy and Veronica. Thank you for helping me with the kids! My village also includes two women who have been there for me in the hardest of times I love y’all! My community of women and people who have prayed over me and encouraged me. My children Micah and Eliana, you both may not understand yet but you both are my fuel to keep going. Lastly, my dad and my mom. My dad taught me to be the woman I am with tenacity and fearlessness, never backing down from challenges. And my mom taught me to do things with grace and love, praying through everything, acknowledging God in all of my ways. I could not be where I am today if it weren’t for these amazing people in my life!
Yelp: Imago Dei Photography
Other: Email: email@example.com