Photography & self expression
If you don’t know who Chris Hernandez is already, you’ll probably recognize his work on TikTok (Chris goes by the username @cnhphotography). With over 2 million followers, Chris quickly made a name for himself in the photography world, and we can see why.
His trademark style — deeply dramatic and expressive portraits, usually set in rural locations, featuring dream-like sequences — is like a painting that demands to be seen. As you scroll through Chris’s feed, one thing is for sure: his photographs are powerfully addicting.
“I’d take pictures of everything and anything, you name it: skies, birds, random objects I found on the floor,”
Chris is Los Angeles-based but he started out in Florida, the way most young creators do: by getting creative to keep suburban life interesting. Growing up in a small town called Dade City, Chris began taking pictures of the world around him, using only his smartphone.
“I would take pictures of everything and anything, you name it: skies, birds, random objects I found on the floor,” he recalls.
His creative journey started there, in his Florida hometown, in 2014, where he first experimented with depth-of-field: a photography term that sharply focuses the object and blurs its respective background. As he explored his passion, Chris wanted his photographs to look more professional, and with the help of his mom and aunt, he purchased a DSLR camera in 2015.
Chris’s first professional camera, a Nikon D5000, served as the monumental tool that ignited his passion for photography and paved the way for his creative journey. His process was simply trial and error: starting with his camera’s Auto function, Chris didn’t switch to the Manual function until he became more comfortable and familiar with the technical side of photography.
“I started creating content because I saw other people doing it and that kind of pushed me to want to create more.”
A fan of photography accounts on social media, Chris became inspired by the content creators he followed and soon wanted to be like them. “I saw other people like me, and I kind of felt inspired because I followed a lot of content creators on Instagram,” he explains. Chris began creating content himself, and has not looked back since. “I started creating content because I saw other people doing it and that kind of pushed me to want to create more,” he admits.
No limits to creativity
From shooting on a basic cell phone, to capturing ultra professional photographs on his DSLR, Chris always found a way to express himself through art and create something special. His photography is inspirational because it shows just how accessible creativity can be: “All you need is a passion, and everything [else] will come in time. And that's what I want my art to do.”
Arguably the best part about Chris’s work is that viewers can usually catch a sneak peak of his creative process during photoshoots. He does this by adding a quick clip to the final product. This distinctive addition to his photography gives Chris a creative edge that resonates with his audience.
“I want my art to show people that you don't need fancy photo equipment, expensive props or beautiful locations to take photos that you're proud of,” explains Chris. “Take it from me. I started in 2014 with a hand-me-down smartphone and just a big imagination.”
Art as self expression
Describing it as “a constant itch to create,” Chris has always felt the need to make art, and is constantly inspired by his environments and moods. He uses self-expression in his photography by creating with the emotion that he feels in that particular moment.
“If I am feeling sad, anxious, or in my head, I tend to sway towards more dark and moodier photos, and vice versa. If I'm feeling happy, I'll tend to edit the photo more bright and warm,” Chris explains. By channeling his emotions into his art, Chris is able to cope with any plaguing thoughts or anxieties that may arise.
With this in mind, Chris’s portraits speak for themselves. Some are vibrant and whimsical, while others are dark and brooding. It’s part of what makes his work so compelling. “Self-expression allows for each artist to put a little bit of themselves into the art that they create,” Chris explains.
Growing up, the talented artist never felt like he fit in, so he created an imaginative world for himself through his love of fantasy.
Sharing a piece of childhood through creativity
For Chris, creativity allows him to put an extension of himself into his art, and share childhood experiences with the world through photographs. Growing up, the talented artist never felt like he fit in, so he created an imaginative world for himself through his love of fantasy. Years later, Chris shares these spirited pieces of his adolescence through his popular work, and directly transports us into that magical world he created for himself as a kid.
“Creativity is honestly priceless to me,” Chris says, as he tells us about the safe space that his art has created for himself and others who are like him. “I'm able to freely express myself and be the most authentic version of myself.”