ImageBrief photographer, Christian Ericksen shares his story about how he became a photographer.
Ever since I can remember I loved drawing and creating art. I have had drive enough to fill my whole life with learning about aesthetic and visual representation. I have worked alongside some of the finest illustrators in San Francisco, had years and years of formal training and experiences ranging from emersion camps to college and everything in between. Heck I have lived it, am living it, and will always live it! I’ve had my fair share of jobs that pay the bills and for a big portion of my young adult life I worked a nine-to-five to sustain my young growing family. Creativity and the need to produce have always run right along side my nine-to-five and I’ve never stopped.
As soon as I could hold a writing instrument, I was drawing and my father is a freelance Illustrator, so I have a formal background and training in illustration and design. Photography has always been a part of my process as an Illustrator and I would watch those around me using photography for reference all the time, so it wasn’t totally foreign, but it was never seen as the medium.
Shortly after college I started a family and the need to earn became a priority so freelance illustration took a back seat and I entered the retail work force. While drawing was still something I did from time to time, kids and a nine-to-five were a lot of work. While all that was going on, lo and behold, I still had a camera in my hand all the time. I would take photos of my growing family with my point and shoot cameras for posterity and to satisfy my need to create visual material. I really loved shooting with my fathers old SLR (an Olympus OM-1 with a 50mm 1.8) but I had no idea how to use that crazy thing. Needless to say, I blew a fair amount of cash on subpar photos. As I reflect on that time, it felt so right having that camera in my hands. I didn’t care the photos sucked, I just wanted to hold and manipulate that hardware.
Things really switched gears the first time I held a digital SLR. I met Chris Brodell working the retail gig I mentioned before. As we worked together we became quick friends. One day after work, he took his Pentax *ist D out of his bag and started snapping some photos. I asked him about the camera—I had no idea this thing existed. At the time I thought all digital cameras were point and shoot. Mind blown! It was all down hill from there. It took me about a week to ten days and I had my first Nikon digital SLR.
Fast forward a chunk of time and my life changed as I left my 40-hour a week retail gig to help out at home and be a present father for my three kids. Chris and I had been shooting together all the time and I was consuming photography like I had been starving for it all my life. Together we stumbled and fumbled our way into building a small cottage wedding/portrait photography business.
We have been super fortunate along the way and have worked with amazing clients and had great experiences with some of the best event people in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. We have a specialty and a style to our wedding and portrait photography. We know what we like to shoot and focus on working with folks who appreciate what we do and want our “look” to their photos. We are true to ourselves and real with potential clients and things have all in all been smooth sailing. At this point e&b photography is something that more or less pays the bills and allows us flexibility to do different types of things with our non e&b time.
For me, spending time with my kids and producing/shooting stock is what I choose to do with my time while not doing photography-related tasks for e&b. Again, my desire to produce visual content and staying creative drive me. No one is watching over me keeping me producing, I either do it or I don’t. I certainly don’t self-produce stock work with a paycheck in mind. I make a bit of money selling stock images, but the whole time I am building shoots, the last thing on my mind is money. I go out and do it because I want to. I actually go out looking for opportunity’s to do it more and in different ways, to grow my skill set and what I can do with photography.
The whole time I am building shoots, the last thing on my mind is money.
I have a tremendous amount of support around me and will always seek the company of fellow creatives to help keep the fire lit. I will also give support to those around me to keep their fire lit because the world needs us to stay on track together. Art is essential. I will work hard on my craft so I won’t have to work on someone else’s terms. Obstacles will be over come, time will be made, and action will be taken all for the glory of a life on my own terms.
I feel like I’m hitting my creative stride on the cusp of 44 years old and photography is the primary reason for that. While there are times I bemoan not having seen photography as the primary tool for my work earlier, I believe all things happen for a reason and photography was brought front and center right when I needed it. I have great balance in my life between work and non-work time. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from capturing a small slice of time with a tool that gives me the freedom to represent it the way I see it. Photography and I hooked up about ten years ago, and I am excited to see where our journey together will take us. I feel like I have only scratched the surface of what this creative energy can do with the right outlet and can genuinely say that I’m super passionate about being a photographer. I encourage all to find what drives them, peel back the layers, and look. When the right time presents itself, drop the shoulder and go.