Last week, we launched We the Creators, a call for people around the world to create with us. This week, we’re introducing you to Erica Hernandez, a Los Angeles-based creator from Flint, Michigan, who inspired the narrative and imagery behind our We the Creators video. While Erica’s story is unique, it also represents our collective journey as humans: one that celebrates the anxiety, courage, joy, and growth experienced when connecting to our true selves through creative expression.
VSCO — Earlier on in our conversation, you spoke a lot about creative anxiety and how you doubt yourself. What keeps you going?
Erica Hernandez — Photography has still been the only thing that’s kept me sane in work life. I was so used to doing work for other people that I didn’t really have anything I could take ownership of. Photography brought me tremendous joy. It was just a hobby. I didn’t think of it as something that could propel anything forward for me, but it’s helped me take ownership of…my life in a sense.
And the more I started taking photos, the more I began to understand what my instincts felt like. A big part of being creative is self exploration. Finding myself. Finding what I have to say. What do I like? What do I not like? I’m getting to know myself through creative expression and that self-awareness spreads to other parts of my life as well.
More than anything, I keep going because I remind myself that photography is about me and my journey. It’s not really about putting out a groundbreaking photograph. I mean, of course everyone wants to do that. To put out an iconic photograph that lives on far beyond your time. But that’s not what drives me. What drives me is that I love the work.
VSCO — That’s a powerful reminder. Tell us more about how creative expression allows you to better know yourself and why that matters.
EH — Some people meditate and that’s how they get up everyday and walk on solid ground. For me, if I haven’t been shooting in a long time, I start acting crazy.
I’ve always been go-go-go, rarely taking a moment to actually slow down, observe, and take in my surroundings. Photography has forced me to look around and within.
It also helps me communicate. I want to be a person who has an opinion about things. I want to accurately describe to people why they should care about what I care about. It’s really about finding the answers to the “Why”s in life and I’m doing that through my creative work.
What’s cool is that the more honest I am in my photography, the more opportunities have come. That’s really important for me. To take a step back and say, “Am I being real with myself right now? Two years from now, am I going to look back and think that I should have done what was right in my true heart of hearts?”
VSCO — It seems like honesty is really important to you. Do you think that being honest drives success and what does success look like for you?
EH — Absolutely. I think people who create a uniqueness for themselves in this world come from an authentic place. And that’s my goal: to be as honest in my creativity as I possibly can. With no regard for what people think. And that’s a really tough place to get to. But that’s what I’m trying to do. Any great photographer or director works from a very authentic place.
Ultimately, I hope to contribute something that people just spend a few more seconds on when they’re scrolling through their phones.
And I also think that people are attracted to people who focus on what makes them happy. Shooting really makes me happy. That’s success too.
See more of Erica’s work on her VSCO profile and share your thoughts, feelings, and unique experiences with us #WetheCreators.