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Meet Erin Douglass of Nasty Women Portraits in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Douglass.

Erin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I came to Los Angeles in 2011 to work in film. For the last 7 or so years, I’ve been happily working in the camera department, living my LA dream. And then 2016 happened. It’s probably cliche now to say that 2016 was a wake-up call, but that’s what it was. I have always been an outspoken feminist, I’ve voted in all the presidential elections, and honestly, I thought that was enough for the first 26 years of my life.

I never thought I had the skillset to offer more, I always thought that there were so many better-qualified people who could do the work better than I could. I was content to stay in my lane. And then, of course, 2016 happened, and my pristine little-privileged bubble burst. I realized that I needed to figure out a way to do more with the skills that I have because they’re nothing, just because I wasn’t in a specifically political or social services track didn’t mean I couldn’t make a difference.

And in the aftermath of this mess I reached out to so many women in my life, I found comfort in the fact that I think we were all having these similar thoughts and feelings. We were all desperate to do more. In that sea of texts and calls and emails, an idea formed that married my strengths as a filmmaker and photographer with this desire to do more to protect the things that we all took for granted before.

I took this idea back to my network of women and we ran with it. We each pulled from our own expertise to put together the first Nasty Women Portraits event in December of 2016. That’s the only way I got to where I am now. Nasty Women Portraits wouldn’t exist without those women who said yes when I asked for their help.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As far as roads go, it’s been interesting. It’s been a giant learning experience. In the beginning, I had to learn how to do everything. I have a degree in film, and earning credit for studying Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn’t really prepare you for starting and running a nonprofit organization. It was like going back to school and it was very overwhelming.

But we luckily found a great resource in the USC Small Business Clinic and they took a lot of it out of my hands. So I wouldn’t even rank that as a bumpy road. I’ve found that the biggest struggle is balancing it all. It’s staying engaged and motivated when it’s not a passion project anymore, it’s work. Meanwhile, you still have your work, the work that pays your rent, that needs to get done. It’s keeping your community engaged and passionate when they’re fatigued when they want to live their lives without hearing about all the awful things that are happening every day.

I think we all want an easy or instant fix and that’s not going to happen. It’s work that needs to be done and we have to be creative, we have to keep working. Again, maybe one or two bumps, knock on wood this trend continues.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Nasty Women Portraits story. Tell us more about the business.
Nasty Women Portraits is a nonprofit organization that uses photography for good.

Specifically, to promote feminism and support organizations that benefit the lives of women and other marginalized groups. We offer photo services to organizations and events that align with our mission and might not have the access or budget for professional photographers. We know that that can be pretty low on the list of priorities when you’re saving the world.

But what makes Nasty Women Portraits truly nasty are our solo events. We throw parties where we take an iconic photo of an iconic feminist and invite a guest to recreate that portrait, all while fundraising for different charities that are aligned with the feminist. In the past, we’ve honored Hillary Clinton (obviously), Michelle Obama, and Dolores Huerta, and have fundraised for Planned Parenthood, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and The Dolores Huerta Foundation.

One of the things we’re most proud of as an organization is the community and atmosphere of the events. Our events are designed to be empowering and encouraging.

They’re a space that celebrates strong women and lets guests see themselves in that same light. We intentionally draw the comparison between our icon and our guests because we want to celebrate everyone who comes through our doors.

They’re there to make a difference, even if it seems small, and that’s something worth cheering about. We want to uplift everyone so that they are inspired to stay activated. We want to be that pat on the back, that affirmation that you’re strong, powerful, and enough.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I think luck is just a lot of hard work and good timing. So far we’ve got the hard work, I’m not sure about the timing yet.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nasty Women Portraits

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