I recently had my last session visiting the LACMA photography archive with my fellow Las Fotos Project classmates Textli, Regina, and Natalia, and mentor Kristin. Throughout my entire experience at LACMA I realized what a great opportunity it was to learn about other photographers and be inspired by them.
Before going to LACMA I never knew much about museums. I always thought they were boring, but after looking at the LACMA archives I have come to love them! Once I learned the stories and reasons behind each picture, it changed my entire mindset. The stories and background of the artists helped me understand and feel part of their photographic experience.
I was inspired Julian Wasser’s photo titled Watts Riots. The photo depicts a police officer pointing his gun at people lying on the ground. Pictures like these are important because they have a purpose and a story. It’s vital to document events that mark important parts of our history.
“Watts Riots,” Julian Wasser
I was also inspired by four photos taken by Max Yavno in the place I come from: East Los Angeles. I felt a real connection with the photographs. These images were not only beautiful, but each evoked a new emotion in me.
After seeing a variety of different photographers and their unique styles, it has helped me decide what style of photography I would like to pursue in the future. I have learned to love portraits and street photography, I feel like those images evoke the greatest emotions in a person. With one picture, a million connections and stories, feelings and interpretations, can be made. And that’s just the beauty of photography.
These past four sessions at the LACMA photography archive with Sarah Newby have been amazing and unforgettable. I got to share this experience with wonderful women – Metztli, Textli, Regina and Kristin. I talked to my mom about each photo I saw at the museum. I would tell her that every photo I got to see up close was so detailed and inspirational. I shared with her that seeing all these pictures helped me realize the type of photographs I want to make.
I would describe my experience as monumental. Why? Because every session had different artists and different perspectives on their subjects; every photo spoke to me as well as the quotes we were given to read aloud by the amazing photographers. One image that really caught my attention was an image taken by Max Yavno in 1946 titled “Two Women.” It is of two beautiful women standing outside a barbershop smiling and having a conversation. The image is framed really well and it inspires me to try and capture the “decisive moment” that Henri Cartier-Bresson describes.
“Two Women,” Max Yavno
The photographs I got to see every month made me feel both refreshed and like I had butterflies in my stomach. The images made me feel refreshed because I wasn’t used to seeing such great photos taken with a film camera. Every photo made me feel like I was actually living the story the photographer was trying to say. I am extremely thankful to be part of this experience.
“Mirror Ball,” Anne Collier
Every month a few of us and our mentor Kristin have the opportunity to go to LACMA to view photo archives. Each time we go, we view a different theme. On April 28, 2017, we saw photos that all fell under the theme of self-portraits. It was really inspiring and amazing. One of my favorite photos was Mirror Ball by Anne Collier. It’s a photo of a disco ball with fragments of Anne Collier’s reflection looking back at us. It portrayed the message of scatteredness and unbalance. As if something was off and she wasn’t fully in her right mind. It was so interesting to me that she decided to show that side of her.
Taking a self-portrait is all about showing who you are and being vulnerable. Photographer Anne Collier did just that, and to that, I applaud her. I have never seen this photo prior to my visit. In fact, I had never seen any of the photos we looked at. I think that it was really important and valuable for us to have seen all these self-portraits so that we can become inspired. We all just got done creating our own self-portraits and exhibiting them. Seeing these photos gave me different ideas of things I can do for my next projects. Continue reading
During our last trip to the LACMA on March 31st, 2017, my mentor Kristin and fellow mentees Natalia, Metztli and Textli dove deep into fifteen images from the archives that were made by female photographers. All of the images were new to me with the exception of the image by Diane Arbus. I enjoyed looking at them and holding a dialogue on their possible hidden or not so hidden meanings. I learned that female photographers have been challenging the mostly male dominated field since the beginning, which to me is powerful because it proves that photography is for those who want to convey the world that they experience, regardless of class and gender.
“Self Portrait in the Mirror at the Lodge, Belmont, MA,” Nan Goldin
My favorite image was Self-Portrait in the Mirror at the Lodge by Nan Goldin. This image was my favorite because it was truthful and I really connected with it on a personal level. For the most part each image made me feel a unique way. Some of the images like Diane Arbus’ Russian Midget Friends in a Living Room on 100th Street, NYC made me feel curiosity, while the image The Hispanic Project by Nikki S. Lee slightly frustrated me as I felt it was culturally appropriating Latino culture without showcasing appreciation.
Other images such as Imogen Cunningham and Twinka, Yosemite and Nude with Hat Shadows sparked the conversation on how nudity in images doesn’t have to showcase a provocative vibe. Women photographers can celebrate the female anatomy and not dehumanize and objectify it, as may be the case with some male photographers.
By Nathalie Diaz, age 15
On Saturday April 15th, portrait photographer, Allegra Messina came to speak to us at Las Fotos Project. Before this InFocus Talk, I had never met or heard about Allegra before. Because of this, I came to the talk expecting to learn about Allegra’s journey to becoming the great photographer she is today. And I learned just that! Allegra told us about how she started photography and how her passion grew. She started out taking portraits of her friends and family and slowly grew more and more experienced, eventually shooting professionally!
Allegra’s wonderful presentation inspired me to not be so shy about my passion for photography. Maybe, I could put this passion “to use,” like Allegra did, and take pictures for family and friends. This will be starting off small. Allegra taught me that even when you start off small, the end result maybe be bigger and greater than you imagined.
My favorite part of the presentation was finally learning every single part of Lightroom. Allegra showed is us every part, naming and showing what the specific things in Lightroom did to our photo. I learned about Lightroom and all of its features, how Allegra’s photography career started, and that being friendly and having a camera can take you anywhere.
Allegra really did inspire me as a young photographer. She is getting paid to do what she loves, while still going to school. And she is not much older than me!
Upon hearing this presentation, I began thinking of ways that I could become more talkative and friendly because of photography. For example, I could start asking girls from my school, who I never talk to, to take their picture.
I felt inspired and empowered because of this presentation. I am very thankful that Allegra came to talk to us, and I hope she visits again soon.
By Julie Aguirre, age 16
My name is Julianna Aguirre, I’m16 years old, and I currently attend Benjamin Franklin High School. Last Saturday February 25th, I has the honor of moderating and hosting the Las Photos Project panel “(Re)present: Black Women In Front and Behind the Camera.” The panel featured the four amazing photographers Kayla Reefer, Dana Washington, Oriana Koren, and Sophia Nahli Allison who’s work ranges in the topics including representations of people and communities of color, urban aesthetics, gender, sexuality, Afrofuturism, food, travel, music, and entertainment. In hosting the panel, I had the opportunity to talk to the panelist about their experience as photographers and how their identities have impacted their art. Throughout the panel portion I was extremely overwhelmed with excitement and overall confidence.
These amazing women taught me that regardless of if I’m a women, specifically a women of color, that doesn’t portray a smaller image or representation of myself. Contrary, it shows how strong and independent a women can be when all odds seem to be against her, and how women still manage to outperform the task that they have set their mind to.
Before the panel I was nervous, but then I was able to see that our panelists were nervous as well, which helped me a lot because what I realized is that regardless on how successful you are, you will always be nervous before any event. By the end of the event I felt empowered. Not only did the experience make me feel proud to be a young women who has also stepped out of her comfort zone but the panelists inspired me to continue to advocate for changes I want to see for my people and community. This experience has helped change my view not only as a student leader, but as a photographer by expanding my vision and not just “going with the flow,” but taking a step beyond and creating my own art as a representation of who I am rather than trying to interpret someone’s else vision.
By Andrea Flores, age 14
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On February 2nd, we watched the film “What Happened, Miss Simone?” which was about Nina Simone and her life as an activist and musician. I liked how the film talked about Simone’s life before, during, and after her musical career. Some of my favorite scenes in the film highlighted Nina Simone’s civil rights activism. I enjoyed these those scenes because it truly show how involved and angry she was at the discrimination experienced by her community. Nina Simone also channelled these emotions into her music career and, as a result, wrote many songs that pointed out the racism felt by black people. Because of this, some of the “censored” music she composed received little radio airplay, negatively affecting her career. Continue reading
*Part of Month of Photography LA (MOPLA)*
Our open house will be an opportunity for guests to preview our new youth gallery and community darkroom. The space, an 1,100 square foot work studio and gallery, will become the new home of Las Fotos Project, a photography mentoring organization for teenage girls, and a space for the girls and their mentors to hangout, work on photo projects, learn, and collaborate.
WHEN: Saturday, February 11, 2016 from 12pm to 6pm
WHERE: Las Fotos Project, 2658 Pasadena Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90031
Viva La Muxer is an all women art and music festival, a celebration of International Women’s Day, and a benefit event for Las Fotos Project. Tickets available at vivalamuxer.com
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