Snapshot of my Past Esmeralda Figueroa

This is my pre-intro video on this project. I hope this becomes clear to you all, but in my video, I address the main idea of my semester project, which is that I am pretending I am already 35 years old and have therefore graduated from college. All the following content is made up but they are things that I hope happen in the future.

INTRODUCTION

Hey! I am Esmeralda and this is my website highlighting my accomplishments and thoughts about college and life after college. It's been many years since I graduated from CSUF but I thought it would be interesting to reflect back on it all and to turn this into a sort of time capsule so that future me, when I am old and can't remember things, can look back at this and see the kind of person I used to be. I will go through my expectations about life after college and what I once wanted to do and compare it to what I do now. Because I am only 35 years old right now, I will also write down some of my own expectations about what I hope to happen in to future, what I hope to accomplish. That way, by the time I see this, years from now, I can reflect back on this moment right now and see how things actually ended up like.

It is the year 2032 and this is what has become of my life...

College Life: Choosing My Major

I first majored in Psychology but then switched majors towards the end of my first semester my freshman year. Why would I do that? Because I found out that for Psychology, I’d need to take a special Stats class and I was not prepared mentally for that. Math and Science have never been my strong suits (even now I panic and stress out about paying bills, checking everything several times to make sure I did not miscalculate anything) so no way was I going to major in Psych. I just needed something new, something I would be able to do.

I remember I was taking a Human Communications class that first semester of my first year and it was my favorite class so I just figured “hey, why not?” so I paid the required ten bucks and switched my major to Communications.

It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized that what I had meant to sign up for was Human Communications. I had signed up for just Communications, with an emphasis on Photo Comm. Oops. :/

I figured I might as well stick with it. I had already paid the ten bucks for it anyways, so I stuck with it.

Turned out I actually liked it. I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do with it, or what I would end up actually doing with it. I just liked the thought of taking photos and going to events and creating images and that was good enough for me at the time.

Personal Projects

The next several photo grids show the kinds of photos I took in college, with my camera phone and with an actual digital camera. They are all original photos taken by me in my younger days.

Before I had a camera, I used my phone camera to take pictures and apps to alter them with special effects. I liked messing around with blurred backgrounds and making one color stand out against gray.
I used an app called Font Candy to help me create these on my phone. The writing on these photos are song lyrics except for "Fatherhood." I remember that my older brother came in my room, fixed this up and told me this would make an interesting photo with the word "Fatherhood" on it and I told him I'll see what I can do.
  1. West Coast. Lana del Rey, "West Coast"
  2. Life Imitates Art. Lana Del Rey, "Gods and Monsters"
  3. Fatherhood. Original
My younger sister, who ends up becoming my business partner in crime, and I bought a camera together sometime during her freshman year in college and my senior year in college. These are some of the first shots I took with it.

Graduation

"Master has given Esmeralda a diploma. Esmeralda is freee!" Except I didn't have a legit diploma at this point yet, so I improvised.

So. Graduation. Senior year was stressful and hectic because, well, senior year. But somehow I made it and graduated. Not gonna lie, I enjoyed my college life a lot more than I did my high school years. I was in charge, I was working, earning money, going to school, I felt responsible. I liked it.

In college, I never really thought about exactly what I wanted to do with my major. I had no definite plan post-college. Obviously I applied to many job opportunities hoping I could get a job, which I did. But still, it was surreal. My one assurance was that with a degree in Communications, I should be able to find a job anywhere, right?

Kinda. I didn't know exactly where I wanted to devote my time and energy or what company would best suit me. I just knew what I didn't want to be in (anything math or science related, that stuff repels me) and I hoped for the best.

Post-College Road Trip :D

We got someone to take a photo of us but this happened. I think Jenny (middle) might've sneezed or something and I (right) was like "what?" and then there's Melissa (left) who didn't notice what was going on and was just being a model.

We had always talked about going on a road trip and when the three of us graduated (Jenny and I from CSUF and Melissa from UCLA), we finally did. Being fresh out of college, we couldn't afford to be over-the-top with our money and so we road-tripped around SoCal and then eventually found our way to Vegas. I honestly don't even remember how we managed to do that.

It was hard. Road trips always seem like so much fun, because it's supposed to be this ongoing adventure, and it was. But the three of us were on our own for a long while and we got lost SO many times because some of us (me) cannot keep a map in their heads or find their way around places. We took turns driving and shared small spaces together and most of the time had absolutely no idea what we were doing. But that was part of the fun too. So while we took this road trip to have some fun and celebrate being out of college, we also had to act like the adults that society has deemed us to be.

The Struggles of Adulting

Yeah I'm gonna be honest: the real world is hard. I guess deep down I always knew that, but in college, I lived with my parents and my siblings. I rode the bus to school and only had to worry about my schoolwork and my job. But the real world is different. I have to pay bills. Taxes. All that financial stuff is terrifying, especially considering that a career in photocomm is difficult. Just trying to find a job after college was, well, it was bad. I still kept my old job at TJ Maxx because why wouldn't I? But I'm not gonna lie, it was beyond frustrating. I majored in photocomm, I graduated from college and now I was stuck in the real world trying to be the adult I'd always envisioned I'd eventually be: confident, successful, sure of myself and with a plan. But instead, I found myself just being the same awkward kid I'd always been. So life was hard.

On the bright side, my younger sister, Bianca, and I decided to work together. I was in college and she was in high school when we shot photos together at a friend's party and since then we've been taking some photo gigs to earn some extra cash. Once she entered college (studying CTVA at CSUF) two years later, we decided to make it a legit thing and when we had earned enough money and established some credibility, we created our own business cards. She wanted a Greek-inspired theme for our name and logo and chose the color scheme. I designed it.

front of our card
back of our card

Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt and the moon, which is why the logo features a moon and a bow and arrow. It was meant to be a sort of play on words because "Art" is in her name, so ARTemis Photography. Also, it makes sense because she, as goddess of the hunt, shoots things and we, with a camera, shoot things too.

Here are some events we have shot over the years.
  1. Top left. This photo was taken at the first gig my sister and I ever took, back when I was still in college and she was still in high school. It was this moment that we thought it would be fun to work together and do something like this in the future, so it was actually exciting when we decided to go through with it. 4/22/17
  2. Top right. Kids Run the OC is an event held every beginning of May at the OC Fairgrounds. 5/1/21
  3. Mid-right. We actually got a job at the Orange County Animal Shelter! This was exciting, especially because, while taking photos of the animals, there was a dog that looked just like our dog Bobby, who had passed several years ago. So, naturally, my sister and I freaked out. 7/14/24
  4. Bottom left. Weddings. I will get to talking about that very soon but for now, here is a photo of a wedding we attended, one of my favorites. The dress might not appear to be very fancy or elegant (especially from this photo) but the cake was bomb (4 layered cake: cheesecake at the bottom, then flan, chocolate cake and tres leches at the top). 12/16/28
  5. Bottome right. Here is a kid blowing bubbles. The parents wanted outdoor backyard shots of their kid but the day we scheduled the shoot for the weather wasn't so great and the kid had bad allergies and asthma so we shot indoors instead. This kid was cute, very energetic and talkative. 3/27/30

What? Everyone's Getting MARRIED?!

It was weird, actually, people my age getting engaged and married or just eloping and posting about it on social media and stuff. I stayed single for a good while partly because I just needed time to figure stuff out and partly because I was too busy for anything serious.

On the bright side, this meant that I had time to go to people’s weddings and other events, so business was really great.

Waiting for Retirement

Life has been interesting. I never really thought about what I wanted to do after college, I just assumed I'd somehow get by, which I clearly did. There were so many things I always wanted to do. I did get to travel with my friends right after college, but we had always dreamed of going to Europe together. There is still hope for the future so maybe this could still happen but who knows. Either way, I still get to travel and live an exciting life, taking photos for a living and meeting new people, people who could help me and my business. It's always new and never boring and sometimes very stressful and frustrating, but I love it, I love it all.

Ironically enough, had I actually pursued a major in Psychology as I had originally planned, I might even be more stressed out to the point that I might need a psychologist for myself, not to be one. But who really knows. I like this and this is good for me.

Created By
Esmeralda Figueroa
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