We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin J Saldana and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erin, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Honestly my whole life, my thought process was just to get paid to do something I enjoy and love. To do something that sustained me and provided for me, but that also brought me joy. To me that equaled happiness. Being creative makes me happy and feel alive. I love to sew, paint, sketch, watercolor, design, build… anything really that involves making something our brains can come up with. No matter the medium, it’s just always exciting to me to use my mind and hands creatively. I come from a family of talented artists far superior than me and I always felt like it was a shame they didn’t get to pursue and use those skills as a career. I wanted to break that mold and prove that following my heart was the right choice for me. I wanted to believe that my creative abilities could result in a thriving career. Growing up, there was this understanding that artists don’t make money and that it wasn’t a sustainable avenue to support myself financially. It wasn’t easy at first and I definitely had some moments of needing to convince my parents that I had. a plan, but eventually they were so supportive and proud. They initially wanted me to double major like my mom did (in art AND education), just so I’d have a backup plan. Parents always want to look out for you, and I understood that.
Becoming my own boss and owning a business that was creative was how I chose to follow my heart. It has now been about 15 years in business as a professional photographer. Not only that… it has evolved into me getting to use my brand in any creative capacity that I desire, from creative directing / consulting, building / painting, to just leaving room to explore other creative outlets.
It has been a constant task to sustain the business, reinvent myself, and keep up the momentum all these years, but it has been worth it because I know my time is going toward the vision I’ve always had for my life…doing what makes me feel alive.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I own a business as a professional photographer. I provide photography for upscale events, fine art / lifestyle portraits, and for branding / commercial clients.
I started out as a photojournalist and the documentary style just sort of accidentally pushed me into weddings and creative portraits. From there, my career started to include conceptualizing and styling shoots for businesses and brands. I absolutely enjoy working with such amazing clients, capturing priceless memories, providing portraits that show people’s personalities, and helping businesses thrive.
After 15 years, I think it was important to evolve and let myself reimagine what my creative career could look like. Photography may be the main creative skill I use for my career, but it feels really nice to share the other things I can do too or at least try to incorporate them if I can. Recently, I’ve begun to offer my other creative abilities as a service to businesses. It’s fun to mix things up from time to time.
I serve as my own creative director and producer and I’ve always designed every little thing for my business. Through the years it has saved me so much money not having to hire someone to do it for me. But, the lesson I’ve definitely learned is: You don’t always have to do everything yourself. Time is money, and if you can save time by getting help, it’s worth the investment. Once I had kids, that concept became everything. Today, I still design everything for myself, but I don’t always produce everything. I am happy to hire other amazing businesses to help.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This really feels like a tough question. We’re currently living through a pandemic and so it’s hard to even think of places that would be open! But I think I would love to take them to any and all of the best restaurants I could think of! Eating out has become a luxury I think we all didn’t realize could matter so much. I love food and they love food… who doesn’t love food? I think it would just turn into a little tour of places to eat the best Mexican, Mediterranean, Asian, Italian, and especially desserts! Boba, churros, ice cream, you name it! I’m sure this question probably means local spots, but based off of how the past year has gone, I think the dream would be to travel outside of the city! Anywhere really. Santa Barbara, Big Sur, San Francisco. Hawaii! All places where I am craving the food and all places where the nature is breathtaking. Food and nature / scenery are my favorites!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would definitely say my 1st painting professor in college. For so many years I told myself I wasn’t a painter… that I couldn’t paint, pretty much all the negative things I could say about not being able to do it. Then, I told myself why don’t you just give it a shot. It was a requirement for my major anyway, so let see what I could do. My painting professor was so good. He broke everything down in steps and gave me a structure to follow. It empowered me to learn and fall in love with a creative side I had never quite allowed myself to tap into. My deep love for color paired with a paint brush just seemed like the most natural connection. I still use a lot of his tips and techniques and what’s funny is that he’ll probably never even realize how important those classes were to me. I went on to continue taking more courses in painting and that class gave me the confidence to embrace myself as an artist and all the creative skills I was capable of. I may not get to do it often anymore, but it will always be something that can instantly transport me to my happy place.
I am the photographer of all the images