We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Benson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erica, how does your business help the community?
I feel like, for a long time, the black community has been inaccurately and poorly represented, even more so in visual media. There are stigmas and stereotypes that have been projected on us that simply aren’t true. One big one that bothers me the most is that we are incapable of love, and aren’t beautiful. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. So being in the wedding industry, I see love and beauty all the time, but I haven’t seen it represented as beautifully and strongly in visuals for the black community and I am working HARD to change that. I just want people to see the black community in a new light, to hopefully break down those stigmas, and fears that have help create a false narrative and hopefully change the way America sees us. 

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Well, I am an international Wedding and Branding Photographer and Creative Director. I think what sets me apart (aside from my love of color) is the fact that I am not just an artist, my background is in business and in marketing so I look at things a little bit different, and I understand what an image can do from both a business and brand perspective but also how to direct to make people look and feel absolutely amazing. Photography wasn’t my plan, I kinda fell into it. After college I scored this dope gig in LA as a Marketing Director for an Ad Agency and my job was to create social media ads, campaigns, and content for a lot of big name brands like In-N-Out, Coca Cola, and Maruchan Noodles just to name a few. The only problem was, all the imagery they gave me were stock photos lol. So I took it upon myself to start creating, styling, and photographing more engaging imagery for the ads. Apparently I was pretty dang good at it because content photos turned into headshots, headshots turned into family photos, and family photos turned into weddings. Next thing I know I’m quitting my full time job to be a full time wedding and branding photographer. That was 6 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. I wouldn’t say it was “easy but when you fall into your calling, everything just sort of falls into place. So when you get that call, pick up the dang phone. I think the biggest lesson I want any business / creative to know is, people are everything. You can have an amazing product / service / art but if you are a crappy person to other people and don’t care about customer service, you’re going to fail. If you don’t care about people, don’t go into business. I want the world to see SoCal Standard and know that I want more for them, and can do more for them visually. That I’m not just a photographer taking pretty pictures, but I am photographing with purpose. I care about my clients, I care about what I photograph and how I photograph it. I’m working on continuously raising the standards.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I’d personally escape to Mexico haha But if we had to stay in the country, I would do all my favorite things. 1) Have an early morning beach stretch at Coronado Beach. 2) Have breakfast at Breakfast Republic downtown 3) walk and shop up and down Little Italy 4) Grab a scooter and race through downtown to the ocean front 5) Head over to Mikes Taco Shop in OB and eat tacos on the beach and walk the pier 6) Maybe grab the bike and bike around Liberty Station 7) Definitely get ice cream and pie and Pot Pie and Stella Jeans 8) Do a little shopping at UTC 9) convince the waiters at Raised by Wolves to sneak us in for a drink because Lord knows I didn’t make a reservation lol 10) find a nice rooftop spot back downtown to watch the sunset

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to all my early clients who grew in this industry with me lol. I had no idea what my style was when I started out and just kind of developed it as I went. And I love that my clients are forever clients, not just a one and done so it’s been so beautiful to grow up with them in this and I am so thankful for all their love, support, and encouragement over the years.

Website: thesocalstandard.com
Instagram: socal.standard

Image Credits
Erica Benson – SoCal Standard

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