Meet a Nasty Woman: 5 Questions with Cristal Veronica

Meet Cristal Veronica. Cristal is a Nasty Woman and proud Queer Chicana feminist photographer.  After getting two higher education degrees, she fell into wedding photography after seeing images of non-traditional couples doing things their own way.  She felt a strong pull to document folks making decisions about what love looks like to them, and not compromising their values for societal standards, so she picked up a camera and found herself shooting a friend’s queer wedding 7 years ago.  Since then, she got married and had an intimate wedding with her wife, complete with a backyard BBQ; chose to focus her business, Cristal Veronica Photos, solely on LGBTQ folks and people of color; and always feels super honored when folks seek her out as a photographer based on her niche.  Cristal’s work has been featured in Buzzfeed, F*Yeah Gay Weddings, H&H Weddings, and Catalyst Wedding Magazine.  In addition to photography, Cristal also works in higher education.  Cristal lives in San Francisco with her wife Shimina and furkid/rescue pup Magdalena; enjoys being a Tia; is constantly thinking of future tattoo ideas; wishes Tupac was still alive and making music; and is always craving sushi and donuts. Learn more about this Nasty Woman here.

What makes you a Nasty Woman?

My current theme song is “Hey Girl” by Lady Gaga, featuring Florence Welch.  If you haven’t heard the song, go listen to it now.  I’ll wait patiently…

In the song, Lady Gaga and Florence Welch sing:

“Hey girl, hey girl

We can make it easy if we lift each other

Hey girl, hey girl

We don't need to keep on one-in' up another

Hey girl, hey girl

Hey girl, hey girl

If you lose your way

Just know that I got you”

I just love those lyrics and believe in them whole-heartedly.  I love supporting other women doing great things, even if they are seen as my “competitor”.  As a photographer and entrepreneur, I have become close friends with women running their own photography businesses.  By collaborating and sharing knowledge openly with each other, all of our businesses have only continued to grow.  I would not be the entrepreneur I am today without their love and support; and I will always return that love and support to them.  #shinetheory

Share an experience that shaped your views or helped get you involved in activism.

In between earning my Bachelor’s Degree in American Multicultural Studies and my Masters’ Degree in Women Studies, I worked for the California State Assembly for then Assemblywoman Judy Chu, now Congresswoman, for a couple of years.  Having been practically raised in the California State Capitol, since my Mom worked there for years, conversations about politics were a regular occurrence in our house, and once I became an employee, the conversations deepened.  I began to really understand the importance of government and just how impactful laws can be on our everyday lives.  I remember being appalled listening to conservative Assemblymembers rationalize their anti-human rights arguments to keep marginalized communities down.  It just didn’t make sense to me.  This is why I believe voting is so important; and see it as my biggest form of activism.  Voting gives each of us the power to voice our beliefs and put people in office who will fight for us.

What advice do you have for people who want to help enact change and push progress but don’t know how to get involved?

In addition to exercising your right to vote, being a consumer is another easy way for us to get involved.  I’m not just talking about where you shop, but also when hiring/choosing people to do business with.  Whenever possible, I seek out and support businesses/companies owned/operated by queer folks, people of color, and/or women.  My dentist, primary care doctor, personal trainer, and therapist are all people of color, and three of them are women.

If you could look into the future, 10 years from now, and see that real progress has been made, what does that look like to you?

The Black Lives Matter movement would no longer need to exist.  Families wouldn’t be torn apart because of a national border.  Universal healthcare would be law.  45 will be out of office.  I could go on... Clearly we have a lot of work to do.

Share with us a favorite wine, a favorite moment or memory with wine, or a favorite pairing.  

My favorite wine memory was calling in sick to work three years ago to spend the day in Napa Valley with my family.  My Mom, who passed away in September 2017, was just about to begin a third round of chemotherapy (#fuckcancer) and spending a fun, restful day together was just what we needed before heading into another hard fight.  We visited a few wineries, and with a toddler and baby in tow (my nephew and niece), we chose wineries with outdoor space to play and picnic.  That day will forever be a favorite of mine. 

Tell us more about you!

Would you believe that photography is still my “side hustle”?  Well, it is.  But that’s actually a good thing.  Believing strongly in the importance of education, my full-time job is doing human resources work for a university; and having a full-time gig allows me to be intentional in choosing who I create art with as a photographer.  My photography business, Cristal Veronica Photos, focuses on LGBTQ folks and people of color.  I’m fortunate to have the ability to choose the art I want to create with people in my community.  It allows me to create my best work because my heart is at the center of it all. 

Emily Davis