When you ask Christina Sanchez how she arrived at MiraCosta College, she laughs. “It was a long road,” she says. “I grew up in the South, in Florida. It wasn’t for me. As soon as I could, I went as far away as I could…all the way to Australia.”
After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at James Cook University, Sanchez headed back to the States, to California, where she began interning for Interscope Records. “I’d always loved music. It was a dream of mine, to work in the music industry.”
Sanchez also followed her passion for photography by enrolling at MiraCosta College. “I was a total newbie then. I just wanted to learn how to work a camera, to learn as much as I could about photography.” Once she got started, Sanchez was hooked. “Peggy Jones was my mentor, and she was amazing. I blossomed under Peggy’s influence. She was encouraging toward everyone in my class and spent a lot of time building us up.”
As she developed her photography skills, Sanchez became more connected in the music world, hanging out with bands and photographing concerts. Jim Alvarez, from PNN Radio on KX-FM Rock, approached her about working for the show. “He said they needed someone to shoot and write articles. So I got started. Eventually, when I found myself backstage at the Rolling Stones concert as their only photographer, it dawned on me—I’d made it.”
Now, as the mom of a busy toddler, shooting six nights a week is not the norm, but Sanchez still takes her “mom hat” off and hits the shows with her camera regularly.
You can also find her on the other side of the camera as a much photographed and videoed Catrina, the iconic skeleton lady from Dia de Los Muertos, the Mexican holiday that celebrates the dead.
“Every year I attend the celebration at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to honor my father. My friends started helping me elevate my “look” with professional makeup artistry and theatrical costumes. This took my Catrina to another level, and people started connecting with me and what I symbolized.”
Photographs of Sanchez as a Catrina reveal a work of art—she almost looks unreal, transcendent. “The first time I wore one of my more intricate costumes, a video of me was posted on YouTube that got over two million views.” Now opportunities are knocking on the door for Sanchez—her face graces Cerveceria Mundial’s Flor de Muerto beer, she’s been invited to appear in a music video, and she’s participating in an event for a Catrina movie.
Sanchez says her experience at MiraCosta played a big role in her success as an artist. “I know people who paid eighty thousand dollars to study photography, who aren’t doing anything with photography now at all. Prestigious schools don’t matter. You have to be true to yourself, authentic, and you have to be willing to get out there. Connecting with other people in your industry is so important and having a teacher who lifts you up, the way Peggy Jones did, is the best of luck.”