Mentor Spotlight: Sophia Montoya


May Mentor Spotlight: Sophia Montoya
Mentees: Jackseny Reyes and Melisa Castañeda

Born in San Diego, CA and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Sophia Montoya is a music photojournalist who contributes to and translates for Through The Cracks, crowdfunding in journalism. She is currently working on a photo project about the rock and roll scene in Puerto Rico. She took a moment to reflect on her work with Las Fotos Project and her mentees, Jackseny Reyes and Melisa Castañeda.

I decided to get involved [with Las Fotos Project] because I felt it would be a fun and positive experience. Photography is something that I love so I knew I had something to teach [the girls]. I also like the fact that it is dedicated to young girls who are eager to learn something new or creative. This project not only teaches them how to be creative; [it also teaches them] how to learn more about their community and their culture.

My relationship with my mentees is awesome. They are talented girls! They want to learn and are not afraid to ask. They are good listeners. Both have my support and I let them know that. Every class they open up to me and to other mentors about their family, their ideas, and things they want to do.

Jackseny and Melisa are both smart and creative [and they] are doing a great job. I am proud of my mentees! They have good ideas for their projects. Both like to play with lighting and angles [and they are] both interested in social issues and photographing more in the documentary style.

Jackseny is ambitious. A non-conformist. She is curious, wants to know more about life and what’s out there. I can totally see her as a photojournalist.

Melisa is independent. An explorer. She is clever, likes to experiment with photography. She stands by her opinions. I can see her as a documentary photographer or filmmaker.

The most rewarding part of being a mentor is when they leave with ideas after class and when they get to see their photo on the wall at their own exhibition; you can tell they are inspired about something. They feel proud about themselves and to me that’s a good feeling.

Timing has been challenging. I would always like to be there on time or make it to every class but work sometimes gets in the way.

This project has changed my perspective in many positive ways. It’s a learning process. All the girls have a story to tell and you learn from them too. They help me to be more in touch with my community. It’s been a great experience and I’m thankful and happy to be a part of this project I would be happy to see it grow internationally and to see how we interact with different parts of the world.

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