My name is Alejandro Arias, but everyone knows me as Alex.
I grew up in East Los Angeles and Riverside. Throughout my childhood there wasn’t much diversity in the community I had. Growing up I didn’t learn about different cultures, different lifestyles, and the importance of diversity. In 2013, I moved to the Bay Area for college and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The Bay is the most diverse place in the world and in my time here, people have shared with me so much about their backgrounds. So many of my friends’ families have taken the time to teach me about their cultures and traditions, and I learned about how unique everyone’s lifestyle is and how important it is to respect the different values that we hold.
I was introduced to photography in college by my good friend, Brian. He had lent me his camera and I made an instant connection with photography that I didn’t know existed. I didn’t take classes for it, I didn’t have a mentor, but I did turn to the online community to learn and was able to teach myself what I needed to know. The main drive that keeps me going is the proud feeling I get when I’m able to create a visual narrative, a mood, and to send off a message for someone to see. That is powerful to me. Since I’ve started, I use my craft to connect with people, learn more about different cultures, give back to the community, express myself, and travel to where I can.
Photography has been able to taken me across the world this past year. I’ve traveled to Taiwan, Thailand, Dubai, Indonesia, and more to learn more about the cultures and capture beautiful places. In Abu Dhabi, I was able to visit a friend I met in college, and he welcomed me into his home. I was able to experience first hand the Arabic world, and introduced me to amazing food I’ve never had. When I traveled to Indonesia, my friend Astari and her father broke down the history of their people and what their country had to go through in the past. Some of these stories shared reminded me of my father.
Sometimes when I travel, I’m reminded of the moments I had as a kid in Mexico. My father was born and raised in Guadalajara, and he took my younger brother and I back there to see how life was where he grew up. He showed us the river where he bathed as a child. One of the houses he grew up in had no electricity or plumbing. Transportation wasn’t always available so he walked countless miles for school and work. I explore to understand someone else’s background and to be educated of what people have gone through. Instead of questioning someone’s way of living or following the stereotypes that we put on ourselves I chose to experience it. I’ve always thought to myself how much easier it would be for people to accept each other if we just took the time to learn about one another. This is something I strive to share and capture with my photography.
Even though freelance photography has introduced me to so many amazing people, and taken me to so many places, it’s really, really hard. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. With freelancing, I had to learn about the business side of photography. People see the finished product, but they usually won’t think about what a photographer has to go through to reach that point to get the shot. I also had to learn important lessons about marketing, reaching out to companies and talent, time management, and keeping my personal life separate from work. This was a huge curveball for me and it really took me awhile to get the hang of it. I failed a lot, but that’s how a person grows. I never gave up, and kept going. Best thing I can tell anyone who’s trying to pursue photography, or whatever your passion might be, is to surround yourself with people who inspire and challenge you. You want to be around these people who have the same mindset as you do so you can all continue to push each other to grow.
One of my proudest memories has been being able to donate 200 photos to the Children’s Hospital of Oakland. I love being able to to give back to the community, especially with something I was able to create, and I only hope that my work was motivating to others.
Something I want to do soon is host a solo gallery featuring my work. I want it to reflect my journey, showcase the places I’ve been, and hopefully inspire people. I’m also working on creating my own wedding company and will be announcing more updates on that later this year.
Don’t forget to create goals for yourself, and keep growing towards them.
See more of Alex’s work on his Instagram @alexariassc.
Shop his Artist Series collab “Serenity” here: