For 12 years, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization has been a creative outlet for those who identify as teen girls and gender-expansive youth from communities of color. They recently collaborated with the HOOPS Portrait Project, which explored the universal earring in photos and also interviews on what hoop earrings mean to them.
Las Fotos Project offers generous opportunities to BIPOC, including Latinas and APIs, throughout the Central, South and East Los Angeles regions to express their creativity through photography.
Nicole Acosta, the originator of HOOPS, reflected on what hoops mean to her.
“For me personally, they are coming of age. And I think they represent different stages of our lives,” she said.
Las Fotos Project Executive Director Lucia Torres said the exhibit is a unifier.
“Folks have a very intimate connection with their hoops. And it means a lot, and it’s just very empowering for some women to wear their hoops, especially in professional settings. Because women of color especially have always been challenged by the way that they express themselves in a professional setting, like Black women have been told to straighten their hair, comb it back, Latino women have been told to not be so loud or not wear colorful makeup and things like that,’’ said Torres.
In addition to exhibition, Las Fotos offers programming which asks students to delve into personal and social landscapes. Their flagship program “Esta Soy Yo” explores wellness while embracing self discovery and self-efficacy. Another program, “CEO,” couples technical photography skills with exploring opportunities within the digital media industry.
Carolina Ferreira takes advantage of programs while also providing organizational support.
Before she was hired, she closely followed the organization’s Instagram account. She wanted to be involved with the Las Fotos Project. They actively give back to the community as they love doing is to help fund mental health resources, she said.
“We’re in the works of having more mental health partnerships,” said Ferreira.
While photography is a very engaging and beautiful art, it can also be very expensive. Las Fotos Project has many items to lend to their students in order for them to further their photographic journey.
“So I think the fact that we have equipment to loan and share with students for whatever they need is already one way that we support the learning of photography,” she said.
In Torres’s words, the underlying focus of Las Fotos work is to “to disrupt the current reality of photography as a medium in photography as a career being dominated by white men.’’