Digital Promotoras uses photography as the medium for our students to look at their communities critically and identify areas in need of change. The powerful images presented by work from both classes represent Acts of Love and Resistance and display definitions students ascribe to each act within their communities as uncertainties and injustices have only become more pronounced in the past year. In showcasing our students’ unique perspectives, we hope that our community is inspired to continue these Acts of Love and Resistance, for the well-being not only of us as individuals, but as a collective that strives for equality and sustainability.

As students began to document their surroundings, they were led by their teaching artist along with 6 mentors in identifying Acts of Love. The resulting images highlight how love manifests itself on a macro and micro level, from taking time to appreciate nature and wearing masks to celebrating the bonds and relations that nourish us, these Acts of Love highlight our collective and individual roles in society. Giving a space for our students to capture and share these moments brings a light after the darkness all of us have experienced and ways we have stood by each other, locally and globally. Love is not bound by time or space.

Teaching Artist: Leah Hubbard

Mentors: Alex Westfall, Andrea Diaz, Brittanie Renoj, Cecilia Arana, Danielle Del Rosario, Dianne Preciado, and Maya Wali Richardson


Featuring:
Alexa Yanez
Jaylen Esparza
Lizette Gonzalez
MaryJane Joya
Mia Gonzales
Natalie Guillen
Presley Mena
Sarai Tlachi
Sonaya Vazquez-Wright
Valeria Rosas
Yasmin Montellano

Alexa Yanez, 15

My name is Alexa Yanez, I go to John Marshall Senior High School in Los Feliz, and I am 15 years old. For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to express my creativity through art. What was once focusing on not coloring outside the lines, is now creating whatever comes to mind using many mediums. I have tried many different hobbies, but visual art has always been a constant in my life. I would say I am a very hard-working, determined, and open person. I am very passionate about helping people, and during these past two years, I have been able to educate myself on many social issues, and I want to make a difference in the world in any way I can. A dream of mine is to travel the world and see all the places I have read about. Although what I want to be when I grow up is still unclear, I am determined to live my best life and work hard enough to make my dreams come true.


Capturing Communal Support

Communities from all over Los Angeles support one another by providing safe spaces for community members. When the Coronavirus first entered our lives, I had a lot of spare time. Being isolated and having no social interactions led me to practice my art even more. Soon, I saw an immense amount of improvement which gave me more confidence and motivation to pursue different mediums and techniques in my art. Photography is something very new to me, but I am always up for a challenge and I have found it as another outlet during the pandemic. As someone who cares about their community, I aspire to be a positive influence in my community and spread “Acts of Love”. Spreading kindness and documenting positivity through photography has become a newfound passion. Seeing groups of people in my community come together and support one another has inspired me to base my project on how communities created safe spaces to socialize during the pandemic. I want to show the creativity and aid that goes into community organizations and events while simultaneously having fun and being safe.

Weekends on Beverly Blvd

People gather on Beverly Blvd in LA to socialize and eat delicious foods made by community members every weekend. This street has several Latinx-owned businesses that range from bakeries, markets, and clothing stores. People are seen laughing, talking, and enjoying their Sunday afternoon whilst eating and drinking comfort foods.

Produce Picking

Community members attend the Larchmont Farmers market every Sunday to get fresh produce. Farmers and vendors sell their products here hoping to provide for many families. Because of the Coronavirus, many vendors were not able to set up their booths, but the farmers market is still running and managing to get people the things they need.

The Rolling Hills of Carlsbad California

Farmers in Carlsbad, CA tend the flower fields for tourists and community members to enjoy the vibrant colors of hundreds of different flowers. These beautiful flower fields are only available during the spring, and they bring people from all over California.

Jaylen Esparza, 15

My name is Jaylen Esparza. I was born in Los Angeles and I live in Boyle Heights. I attend Roosevelt High School as a freshman. I played softball and basketball—my team and I placed first years in a row. I’m into cars, mostly low riders. I like to film things when I get the chance, too. I enjoy making beats and writing lyrics to form a song. Also, I enjoy drawing, panting, and taking pictures. I want to be a lawyer or a professional filmmaker. I would describe myself would be sporty, nice, and fun. What I like best about myself is my skin, my smile, and my confidence. My favorite thing about photography is how everyone has a different taste in art and can show it through pictures.


Emotions of Growth

All of these photos show acts of love through the lens of growing up with my family and close friends. I want people to smile when they see these photos; to see other people having good moments, and to remember good moments and emotions.

The Crown

During my quince, I put my crown on my friend while he was looking down at me. It was an act of love—in the way we are enjoying ourselves, having fun, and being silly.

Dad/Daughter

My quinceanera was a special time. Some people even came from two or three hours away—to see me celebrate my transition into being a young woman.

Juan and I

My boyfriend Juan and I were pretty tired from doing skating tricks. This photo represents an important act of love in my life— the way we are together and hugging.

Lizette Gonzalez, 16

Lizette Gonzalez is a 16-year-old sophomore at the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles. An important aspect of her is how family-oriented she is since her family means a lot to her and is her source of inspiration and motivation. Her interest in study is in the realm of social justice, law, and politics. Her goal in life is to help as many people as she can and to help create a better world for those who face adversity. Additionally, photography has become one of her favorite hobbies and she enjoys expressing herself and others through it. She loves to shoot with her family, in nature or to use photography as a tool to raise awareness about social issues. Her love towards her family and passion for social change is what pushes her to continue to step out of her comfort zone and to work hard for all her goals.


Amor de Familia (Family Love)

My goal for this photo project was to showcase the strong love that exists within my family and to show that small actions and small moments can truly mean so much. Even through the pandemic, my family has shown incredible resilience and I wanted to honor and showcase that through this project. I wanted to demonstrate the acts of love and kindness I see in my day-to-day life with my parents and sister. In my images, one can see how the adversity that COVID has brought to the world hasn’t stopped us from exploring, adventuring, helping one another, and maintaining the relationship we have as a family with nature and towards each other (safely). For those who will see my photographs, I hope that the emotions and thoughts they elicit are those of reflection and reliability because it’s important to realize how the importance of friends and family is to all of our lives and how their love is really what keeps us going strong.

View my Full Project

Papa and Mama

Nature has become a big part of my family’s lives as hiking and adventuring have become normal to us. In this candid shot of my parents walking down the trail, I wanted to honor the acts of love I see between them and the acts of love they give to me through their support and care.

Joy and Laughter

This image shows a candid moment of my sister laughing as she stands on a pile of rocks next to the beach. With this shot, I wanted to demonstrate how important it is to not take these small, joyful moments for granted.

Mask Love

Wearing a mask has become a new normal for all of us and it can really represent an act of love to ourselves and others. Even through the hardships with COVID, my family has still tried to have moments of joy and this shot shows how even with a mask, our love, resistance, and strength are still going strong!

MaryJane Joya, 14

Hi my name is MaryJane I am 14 years old and in the eighth grade. I plan to continue practicing photography with the help from my family and friends. I am very outspoken and creative and love to tell stories through my photography. My photography journey began when I first saw my older sister using a camera. When she left it alone I took the opportunity to pick it up and snap a photo. At that moment that’s when I knew I would love photography. From then on I dedicated every moment of my life to taking photos. I enjoy photographing my family and places we go and see since we travel a lot. I hope my photography can make you feel a part of the photo even though you aren’t really in it!


My photos center around my sisters’ goofiness but with the inspiration from the movie, Alice in wonderland. In all of my photos, my sisters are presented in a beautiful environment, but in this setting, my siblings are always laughing, fighting, and acting carefree. The whimsical photos document the laughter and joy of my sisters which I love seeing every day – my center of happiness.

View My Full Project

Sunset

Warfare between a father and two of his daughters. In the distance, it may seem like dancing but in reality, it’s a war of laughter, tickles, and punches. I am not the type to join such things but it’s always fun to see and capture them through photos.

Drink me

With these photos, I tried to give an Alice in the wonderland vibe; when Alice drinks a potion and shrinks, but later on she would grow to become a giant. It was quite difficult but fun to take pictures. My older sister volunteered to be my model after seeing me struggle with my little sister and it turned out to be better than expected, she really got into character.

Almond flowers

While I was trying to take photos in a place with beautiful flowers, my two sisters were battling it out, and I ended up catching it in a photo. This reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, exploring a beautiful new world filled with flowers and mysteries – but also full of crazy people. This photo shows that even in a place so beautiful there will also be crazy things happening with these kids.

Mia Gonzales, 16

My name is Mia and I’ve been on many missions to get to where I am. I will always be on a mission to do something and be greater. In my 16 years I’ve had a lot of things happen, some bad and some good, but not one of my choices I’ve regretted because they’ve all led me to where I am and to knowing what I want and who I want to be as of today. I’m a person who is very focused and determined to show where we have all come from and how beautiful our city is. I have brown pride and know my history and want to tell it through art.


Amor Sin Fin.

This project shows how different rituals and traditions can express the love families and friends have for loved ones who’ve passed.

View my full project

Prayer to the Light

Praying hands symbolize people’s devotion to any higher power they believe in. Their sincerity and devotion is something important to people both during their life and after their death. I loved the way the hands in this image point to the sun, like the hands are praying to the purity of light. I felt like this symbolized going towards something truly positive in the next chapter of life.

Every year my tía and cousin go to the cemetery. They bring offerings to have a good relationship with Saint Oya who protects the cemetery and cares for those who’ve passed. She will appreciate everything as people choose items based on their intuition. These rituals give people a feeling of safety and protection, both for themselves and their loved ones.

Flores del Cielo

This moment caught my eye because my cousin was putting flowers on her grandmother’s grave, something her family does every year on her birthday. She put creative thought into it and instead of just placing the flowers on the grave she made it look like they were growing out of the earth. Whether it be a celebratory or sorrowful occasion flowers are very universal symbols of love and care.

Natalie Guillen, 15

Hi, I’m Natalie Guillen and I currently am a tenth grader attending bravo medical magnet high school. I would use words like, sarcastic, honest, and exciting to describe myself. I draw most of my inspiration from my cat since he allowed me to see more joy in life and how much kindness has been spread during hard times especially during the pandemic. Another inspiration are movements like BLM and Asian lives matter since I want to fight for those who are discriminated against and looked upon. A huge turning point in my life was when I got my cat during the pandemic as I was in a toxic mindset in which he helped me get out of that was a huge thing to do and opened my eyes to seeing love in little things . One of my favorite things about myself is that I speak for what I stand for especially for what’s going on in the world in order to spread awareness.


life are diamonds

I wanted my project title to represent what I want people to see my photography with. I would say life is always dark, but there are many times where light shows, like how bright diamonds are. Through these three photos, I want people to understand and see a story about different types of diamond relationships; about my close relationships. Throughout the pandemic, I personally went through a lot of stages of sadness since we were isolated from family and friends and realized there are a lot of people surrounding me that are there for me. You can see intimacy in each picture showcasing animal relationships, self-love relationships, and friendships.

A day, an Angel

I decided to make my cat the main focus of my photo submission, as my supporter during the pandemic, representing love. During these times a lot of people, including myself, were hit hard by the pandemic and felt a bit lonely. I used reflection and my stance on intimacy and trust as brightness coming into my life and as a sign that at times you do need support and love from others.

Growing Flowers

Friendships have helped a lot and are really needed. Although at times you need space and independence from everyone, personally, my friends have helped me through a lot. They help me laugh and make my day brighter which most people used during the pandemic. I felt the lowest I have ever felt, but communicating and growing with my friends felt uplifting as I had someone there for me and I felt cherished.

Amour Propre

Most people experience a lack of self-love and independence. I wanted to use this man as a representation of experiencing a fun time on your own, becoming smitten with yourself without relying on anyone. It encourages developing a new relationship with yourself and motivates you to begin experiencing independence.

Presley Mena, 13

My name is Presley Marie Mena and I’m 13 years old. I have always been passionate about art, in particular film and photography, but what intrigues me the most is film editing. For me, editing is a way to express my likes and interests through cinematography. I have created an Instagram account dedicated completely to my edits where I post every so often. My edits usually consist of movie clips and sometimes photo collages. It has allowed me to creatively express myself. One of my goals is to attend The School Of Visual Arts, in New York where I could achieve a degree in cinema/film hoping to possibly work in the film industry as a film editor or director. I want to learn more about photography and hope to learn programs that could potentially help me in my future career path.


With my project, I hope that seeing images of so many different situations throughout different communities will inspire someone to want to volunteer and help provide wellness to their community.

Love and Nature

A horse stable located near the border of Pico Rivera, California shows the handler training his beautiful white horse. I chose this image because it represents my community. Pico Rivera has a large Hispanic population that dates back to when it was originally Mexico, where some traditions like horseback riding are still practiced today.

Giving Back to the Community

The second image I decided to use was one of my aunt Sarah. My family and I decided to go to Downtown LA and drop off some food, water, and other necessary essentials to help provide for the homeless. When giving them the bags full of food their faces lit up with thankfulness. Seeing this image might encourage you to do the same.

Homelessness in LA

The final image I decided to display was also part of when my family and I went to Downtown LA. I managed to take a picture of what the environment is like. There are over 568,000 people dealing with homelessness and are in need of shelter. This is why we need to fix our communities and try to provide a better life for those without a home.

Sarai Tlachi, 17

My name is Sarai Tlachi. I was born in Gardena but I was raised in East Los Angeles/Boyle Heights moving between my mother’s and father’s house. I am a 17-year-old first-generation students and a senior at USC Hybrid High. I would describe myself as outgoing, courageous, kind-hearted, selfless, adventurous and generous. I enjoy going to the beach, hiking, camping, and travelling. Some qualities about myself are that I know how to prioritize my goals and how to be organized. One reason I like being a photographer is because I am able to express myself through my photos. Each of my photos include a memory, a memory that I believe shows a glimpse of my life through my eyes. Las Fotos Project has taught me how to display a story through my photos and has taught me how to see the beauty in life.


My Sweet Escape during the Pandemic.

In my project, I show ways I was able to take time by myself and with my family. I hope my audience is able to see the happiness I experienced in my work. I learned how to capture a photo that could tell a story and show many emotions.

View my full project

Virtual School

Going through our last year of high school during a pandemic was difficult. My friends (Betsy & Grace) and I have managed to keep in touch and arrange times where we are able to study together as well as be social in the downtown community. This image represents our determination to stay up to speed with our education without losing sight of what’s in the streets of LA.

Since 2009

Many people have dealt with loss, sadness, loneliness, and sickness during this pandemic. I have been lucky enough to have my best friend’s support during all these hardships. This image shows Jocabed’s joyful and bright character. As we will continue our separate paths, we both know that we lean on each other for support.

Following Guidelines

Going out during Covid-19 means being safe. We cannot be safe unless we use the proper protection. My friends and I have been very careful and follow guidelines so that we may have fun and not put our families at risk. With this image, I am able to tell the story that we do could have fun and still live life while being safe and helping lower the risk.

Sonaya Vazquez-Wright, 17

My name is Sonaya and I am a Junior at Westridge. I am 17 and I’ve lived in Highland Park for most of my life with my family. I love nature and being creative in any way I can. I am constantly searching for new skills to learn and love immersing myself in projects. I have always been very interested in photography and started to explore it two summers ago when my mom gave me her old film camera. I then took a class in school where I learned to develop and print my photos, falling even more in love with photography and the process. To me, photography is a way to capture important moments and memories, as well as tell a story.


A Mothers Love

My project is about my mom, Percy, and how she is a source of love for me, other people in my community, and the world in her work as a social worker. Through these images, I hope to display the many facets of her love.

View my full project

Percy Vazquez

In this picture, my mother stands in our backyard, the afternoon sky behind her. Using a low angle, I wanted to show her power, dominance, and confidence as a caregiver and family member.

Memories

In this photo, I captured a few pictures of my mother at different points in her life, centering on the picture of her in her late 20s, before she had me.

Familial Ties

Along with the family memories in these photos, one thing my mom and I share is our heritage.

The blanket in the background represents this, as it’s a Mexican fabric, gifted by my abuelita.

Valeria Rosas, 14

Hi my name is Valeria Rosas and I am a ninth grader at Felicitas Mendez Highschool. I am 14 years old and I live in the William Mead homes. If I could describe myself in three words, they would be: funny, clever and versatile. When I grow up, I want to be a criminal defense lawyer or a singer. The things that I like best about myself have to be my eyebrows, hands down. My eyebrows are beautiful. The people that inspire me the most are my family. They do everything in their power to help me succeed and I love them for that. One turning point in my life, and I think in many others lives, was the Coronavirus pandemic. It has had a huge impact in my life in many different ways. Another was beginning highschool virtually. This was something that I would have never expected. Lastly, a place that I wish to live in would be France because I could eat lots of pizza and pasta!


My project focuses on my love for my family. Here are some pictures of my mom, sister, and my brother.

Seconds before disaster

This is a picture of my sister Norma. It was her birthday that day, and I think this picture expresses how goofy we are. I feel like this photo captured a really candid moment considering that within the next 0.5 seconds, the guy in the bottom right-hand corner would be smashing a bigger piece of cake on her entire face.

Ascot Hills Hike

This picture shows my brother posing on the top of a hill where we go hiking every once in a while. I think this moment truly captures the main themes of my project, particularly family. I want to capture the little things in my everyday life that have brought me joy during a time that is still difficult.

Mom cooking!

This is an image of my mom making me my favorite dish. She was making it as she has done for my whole life, and I decided that it was something worth showcasing. She tries so hard to come home from work just to make food for me to eat. I am very grateful to have her and I love her so much.

Yasmin Montellano, 15

My name is Yasmin, I’m 15 years old and from Boyle Heights. I’m a unique and confident person that likes to try new activities. I like drawing and taking pictures of nature and my friends and family. I enjoy going out into nature and walking around neighborhoods all over the city. I stick up for what I think is right in this world because we’re all human no matter what skin color or race we are. With everything going on now with the Black Lives Matter movement and violence towards people of color it’s important to stand up against injustice. I think taking photos at protests and photography is an important way for people to see what is wrong in the world. When I was younger I had a lot of family problems which led to me and my sisters being taken into foster care. Photography was the only thing to make me become truly happy and forget all about the negativity around me.


A Year Well Spent.

This project reflects my time during quarantine when I was able to spend time with my sisters and they taught me different ways of expressing love, both for each other and myself.

The Girl With The Rainbow Feeling

My sister and I used to share a room together and would always fight and kick each other out. Then she moved in with her boyfriend to get away from the toxicity of our house and family. Once she moved we started talking a lot more and got closer. She seemed happier. I think this photo shows that happiness in her. The colors, lighting, and rainbow reflect how I feel about my sister now.

The Two Angels

I’ve lived with my oldest sister Destiny my whole life. We have a really strong bond. When Destiny was pregnant we went to the beach to take photos of her. I feel like the light and candidness of this photo captures her true form. Doing this photoshoot was an expression of love as it memorialized that important moment in her life; a gift for her and her daughter.

The Thinker

My older sister and I decided to play around and take photos together. She took this photo of me and at first, I really didn’t like it because I thought it was ugly. My sister told me to keep the photo because it shows how other people see me which is different from how I see myself. When I look at the photo now I feel like I’m looking at myself through my sister’s loving eyes.

Special thank you to our Digital Promotoras program funders: Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles; USC Good Neighbors Initiative; CA Arts Council; The Leonian Foundation; Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, The Annenberg Foundation and the Yerba Buena Fund