Inside the mind of Eric Natividad, an AAPI creative

Eric Natividad taking photos and working on the set. Eric Natividad/Courtesy

Finding beauty in the mundane

“I believe that we’re all designed as artists in our own ways. It doesn’t even have to be exclusive to photo, design or illustration. We’re built to create in our own ways.”

Eric Natividad is often found on video sets for Saddleback Church during the week and at the local Bodhi Leaf coffee shop on the weekends, editing photos and writing essays for class. Natividad is a full-time college student, part-time Saddleback Church A/V technician and a photographer who manages to find balance in his busy life. 

Working with regional California campuses, he is a part of creative shoots and music videos for the church. Taking care of many different roles for production, Natividad serves as a crucial part of content creation for the church. 

“For example, I could photograph a weekend and even do graphic design for social media for worship and production,” Natividad said. 

Natividad working on a set with Saddleback. Eric Natividad/Courtesy

On the side, Natividad pursues his main passion of photography. Recently he has started to kickstart his own photography business, selling prints of his work. 

“Selling prints of my photography has been a huge step for me in doing this as a job and having it as a business,” said Natividad. 

Conveying his work through the Bible, Natividad sends his art to a company called Alabaster Co, which recreates books from the bible in a visual form through art. The company curates work from independent artists such as paintings, photography and even writing. Currently, Natividad has two photos featured in two of their books, which he is very excited about. 

Though Natividad lives a life full of art and creation, there’s no denying that roadblocks have come up, especially during a pandemic. About five months ago, he went through a creative rut, unable to find anything exciting to shoot in his daily life. 

“Everything around me was just so mundane,” Natividad said. “I didn’t want to take any pictures at all.”

However, Natividad explains roadblocks as something very common for artists, and it takes a single spark to inspire a whole new wave of creativity. In order to push through it, Natividad took pictures of anything and everything, no matter how dull or uneventful it was.

Eric Natividad/Courtesy

“I just go and shoot because it’s something I need to keep in my life,” Natividad said. “It’s a practice that keeps me going even if I have no inspiration. It’s good to keep it there.”

With the world opening up again per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Natividad found himself overwhelmed with the speed of his creative life. Just when he was starting to find solace in being alone at home, his entire life went from zoom calls to working in real life again in the blink of an eye.

“On top of that, I’m a full-time student who works part-time, but I’m also trying to find time to pursue my own creative life,” he said. “It just gets really overwhelming sometimes.”

Ultimately, the pandemic has taught him a lesson in patience and deceleration, allowing him to take a step back from life in order to slow down. In a time where the world was at home, Natividad came to terms with his own introversion and found peace in it. 

“Just over this year I learned how much of an introvert I am and how much I love to be alone sometimes,” he said. “I think it’s because of practice and a whole year of it.”

The feeling of solitude has had an incredible impact on his work, as he tends to focus on photographing landscapes and the environment he finds himself in. He rarely photographs people, which gives his work a running theme of immersion. Natividad loves to look at his work and be transported back to the place he took the pictures

“I love creating spaces that make you feel like you’re there, not alone in a bad way, but in a peaceful way,” he said. 

Film photo taken in San Luis Obispo. Eric Natividad/Courtesy

Photography is an art that takes time to master, especially when it comes to film photography. He started to fall in love with film photography and the practices around it, emphasizing that film forced him to take a step back from life. Film photography has presented a new learning experience for him, teaching him that art and photography don’t have to be fast, and it has the potential to be therapeutic.

“Even before I pick up my camera or look in the viewfinder, I’m able to take a minute to take in my surroundings,” he said. “I appreciate that so much about film photography.” 

Natividad believes that we are all designed to be artists in our own ways, whether through photography, illustration, or word, he finds beauty in the human ability to create. In the future, he hopes to expand his career with production and the arts and pursue his passion for photography even further. 

“Knowing that we’re built to create is something so hopeful, and I want people to find that you don’t have to be an artist to create art,” Natividad said.