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Claremont Graduate University Site about our HAAT Photoworks Project

Why Can't You See Why?

Dave Abalos


 This collage combines two different photos of different people. The right photograph is a little Caucasian girl outside the Japanese Internment Camp Museum, and the left photograph was of a Mexican-American woman taken under a freeway while heading toward the Metro Gold Line in East LA. 

My initial idea was to take pictures showing where people are going. But, seeing how these two photographs contrast with each other, I noticed a larger overarching theme. The photograph is a representation of the differences of youth in East LA and West LA. The problem is the lack of interactions between the two sides, which conceals the harsh realities of racial differences and privileges of people in LA. Most people in East LA live dark and difficult lives, unsure of what the future holds‚ such as families that struggle to earn a decent living wage, a pregnant youth unsure of how to support her child, or someone who turns to drugs to make money or to try to get away from their problems. In the contrast depicted, privileged youth tend to have a more open world of choices as represented by the open space and the light. 

The light contrasts between the two photographs in the darkened road and the lightened world. The light at the end of the dark road represents optimism while the more-or-less dark building on the right represents the darker side of life. The framing is set to show the person on the left as being forced to take a path, while on the right the other person is where she has open space and is free. The sizes of the subjects are the way they are seen in the world. Those in East LA cultures are often brought down or made small and inferior by their peers.



El Mural Olvidado

Elia Alegria


 The beauty of Los Angeles consists of so much culture. One example that is commonly seen is murals on the walls of our city. This picture that I took was in Little Tokyo. You can see a mural of a Mexican man with clouds at his back. You can see diagonal lines intersecting in the mural, directing your eye towards the subject. The man has his hands pointed outward as if asking for redemption. The mural is located at the back of the building, where it can hardly be seen. To make matters worse, in front of the mural, covering the bottom, is a beat-up fence, which has wooden boards up against it. There is one that is tagged up with gang names, and the boards were left there as if forgotten. The apartment is not well taken care of, and the mural of the man just adds to the scene of abandonment as if asking: Why?

Cultures meet through art. In the picture you see a mural of a Mexican man. In a city that is heavily populated with Hispanic individuals, it is not uncommon to come across a mural or two on your way to the supermarket. Through art, it can be seen how different cultures express their points of view. In this case, it’s seen how the Mexican culture paints various depictions of Jesus, the sombrero around on his head representing a halo.

In this photograph, though, it’s an example of forgotten art, how we become ignorant and say, “It’s just another mural.” It might be common, but it doesn’t lessen the cultural value it contains. Many represent their beliefs and expectations of the world, and we become oblivious to the true meaning that the mural has. In the Hispanic culture, this mural represents the faith we have in not only each other but also our people as a whole.



From Then to Now

Juan C. Alejo


 I chose to take this picture on Olvera Street in Los Angeles. When I was walking through the streets, I saw this picture in the window of an empty building and just thought how cool it was.

This picture caught my eyes because of how it looks in the window of the old building and how it tells a story of historic Los Angeles. There is no high technology like we have today; people used to take trains and horses as their rides to move from place to place. You can tell this photo is old because it was taken in black and white, and also because of how the buildings were built and how people were dressed. 

If you pay close attention, you can see the buildings of modern-day Los Angeles reflected in the window. Looking at these two images together, we can see that Los Angeles has changed a lot. Transportation has changed. People don’t walk around anymore. They take buses or bikes, or drive their own cars. The city moves faster, but Olvera Street is still this little place where a person can go and see history.



La  Plebita Jaliciense

Aida Alvarez


 East LA is a pretty much Mexican population, and I am a proud Mexican. The day I took this picture I was going to a jaripeo. A jaripeo is a Mexican pastime that involves a horse show, bull riding, and live music. The music that is provided is Banda, Norteño, Conjunto, Grupo, or Tamborazo. It is usually an all-day event, from twelve noon to twelve midnight. What inspired me to take this picture was the way I was dressed. I feel I was giving a good example of how a true Mexican would dress for an event of that kind.

The culture represented in this photograph is the Mexican culture with the diamonded-up nails, long-sleeve flannel shirt, the big belt buckle, and the diamond bracelet with the Mexican saints on it. This picture is a self-portrait of me. I managed taking it myself with the self-timer provided on the camera.

I took this picture outside at around four in the afternoon when the sun was getting ready to go down. I tried standing somewhere where the light from the sun would somehow reflect on my belt buckle and make the diamonds on my nails and bracelet sparkle. The light is mostly focused on my left side. The reason I thought the light was highly important for the photograph was because I feel it brings out the mood in it. The colors involved give a pattern. The center interest is all in the nails and the belt buckle.



Work Life in Boyle Heights

Jazmine Andrade


 I took a picture of this man at the corner of First and Chicago in Boyle Heights. I can see that he is working really hard. There was a CHASE bank behind me, and I think he was one of their janitors. What also caught my attention was the guy in the car looking toward me right when I took the picture. It looks like he stopped just to be part of my picture. The street looks really clean, and it might be thanks to this old man who keeps it that way by doing his job. He also seems like he is not ashamed of the kind of job he has. I see many people every day who are ashamed of the job they have. They hide their faces, looking other ways so that you won’t see who they are or how they look. But I admire the way this man is not ashamed. He is looking straight at me.

For me, this man represents all the hard-working Mexican people who live in East LA. I think Mexicans work so hard and give it all they can because they come here from Mexico hoping to have a better life. So when they have a job, they give it all they can with no complaints, have a good attitude to support their family, and make money to put food on their tables.

One of the main elements of design that I used in this photo is line. There are many vertical lines, but I see more horizontal lines in the street and the sidewalk. The white line caught my attention as it’s a leading line that directs the viewer to the subject, the man standing looking at me.



Culture Within

Yasmeen Arreola


This photograph has a meaning beyond what you see. There are many stories about the history of punk rock, a sub culture that never dies, that believes it is an anti subculture within the society. This photo depicts more than a passing fad; it shows what punk rock is, a state of mind as well as beliefs that influence every aspect of life. It’s more than just a way of rebelling; it is another way of living, just like any other social group.  It displays a superficial tough exterior with the studded jacket, sturdy Doc Martens boots, and metal ring bondage belt. The boots portray anti-consumerism, walking instead of driving a car for transportation. Another ethic shown is DIY, “do it yourself”: customizing your own clothes instead of purchasing “in fashion” or “new” trendy clothes in town. The punk exterior is an expression of nonconformity and an opposition to both consumerism and the mainstream. It also displays individualism and rebellion. Over the years, punk rock has kept loyal to its roots.

Looking at the photograph, one is drawn to the dominance of the leather jacket. The details grab attention with the bright bloody red and gleaming silver studs, accompanied by the beliefs and thoughts the jacket carries along. The half checkered blue and half black pants then drag the focus down to the powerful Doc Martens boots that express their rebellion against consumerism. The texture of the hard concrete sidewalk shows that rebelling against consumerism is not an easy path to take. The deep contrast between the checkered blue and the black of the pants reflect the misconceptions of punk rock. For instance, a glance at the rough exterior of a punk rocker may cause fear to others who are naïve about this subculture, but a stare at the interior shows peace, unity, beliefs against oppression, and the will to stand up for inhumanity and animal cruelty. The shadow symbolizes the mystery of the destination. All the parts of the image work in harmony, creating a sense of unity that represents the subculture’s belief in peace. The texture of his smooth bare arm exposes the vulnerability of a human being. It reveals him without his armor and reminds the viewer that underneath the robust studded jacket is another human being.



Jessica Dieguez


This picture was taken on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Record. In this photograph I see an old man waiting to cross the street in front of a gray building. The building seems to be old. The man is wearing a sombrero and is walking with a cane. In the background I also see a couple walking towards Cesar Chavez. There are a lot of trees and a few houses in the background. There is also a light pole on a red light with a stop sign.

This photograph represents culture because it was taken on Cesar Chavez. That street is famous because it was named after Cesar Chavez, one of the men who fought for our Chicano rights when Mexicans were being discriminated against for our color and for speaking Spanish. Now that times have changed, when we walk along that street we feel relieved. If it wasn’t for him and other men who fought for us, we would have probably been living without an education. Back then the American teachers didn’t want Mexican students speaking Spanish in the schools. Our parents would probably not have had jobs like they do now.

When I look at this photo, my eye is directed toward the yellow line on the ground. The intersecting lines lead to the background of the picture, then to the man waiting to cross the street. The foreground is very simple: the color of the building is gray, and inside the door it is pitch black. The background seems to be more complicated because of all the trees and the houses in the back. The building behind the man makes him pop out of the picture more because of the door in back of him.



Dead Grass, Dead Cement

Luis Escobar


As evolved and adept as our eyes may be, life passes in front of us like a movie. Remembering big events that happen throughout the day comes naturally, but remembering the details requires more focus and attention. The beauty of photography is that it captures these details that we may have missed or forgotten. Sometimes something so common can be shown through a different angle, and it shows a beauty we might have not noticed.

My group decided on going to Little Tokyo to practice photography, and along the way to the train station I stopped walking to take a picture of the surrounding area.

In this photograph the freeway magically disappears behind a hill: this shows that our eyesight can deceive us, that what we see might not be the complete picture. The lines of the road act as a frame within the photograph that emphasizes the detail above of nature and civilization coming together. People may say that nature is being consumed by civilization as we intrude more and more upon nature. These freeways are an example of how the need for urban civilization, transportation in this case, is overpowering nature. However, as seen in the photo, the vines growing on the pillar are embedding themselves into the cracks of the pillar, which symbolizes the nature that can fill the cracks of our civilization when need be.



Union Station

Miguel España


I took this photograph while I was on the train. I was trying to capture people just living their lives. Taking it while I was aboard the train really helped because I was able to capture them without them actually noticing, and this way I’m able to capture their normal expressions. I was able to capture them living in the moment, and I’m really glad about that. I was able to capture different cultures coming together, and what better place is there than Union Station.

I really like the lines throughout the photograph, from the lines on the brick flooring, to the lines created by the people. I like how there is a depth of field, with both men up front and the lady toward the back.

There seems to be a story for each person. The lady is on the phone, possibly talking to a friend or family member; perhaps they’re meeting up somewhere and she’s running late or asking for directions. The Caucasian man seems to have some business to take care of, whereas the African-American man seems to possibly be coming from school or perhaps visiting a friend. What I really liked is the diversity of races seen, and that’s what LA is. Los Angeles is a bunch of different cultures coming together and interacting with each other, thus creating a greater, more diverse culture. It’s really beautiful to see people come together.



Never Forget You

Evelyn Gutierrez


My photograph was taken at Calvary Cemetery, and as you can see there is a plaque. This plaque belongs to my oldest brother, Ricky Jonathan Aranda, rest in peace. I chose this photograph because it shows how in the Mexican culture family is always important. In this photograph, my other brother is cleaning our older brother’s plaque. In the corners of the plaque there are two white doves holding a ribbon that says “Nuestro Querido Hijo,” our lovely son. There are also flowers in front of the grave, which gives it color. His grave is never without flowers.

Every Thursday of the week my family and I take flowers to my brother’s grave. Not only do we go and take flowers, but we also spend time there cleaning his plaque and just being around it. To us it’s a nice way of having him with us even though he isn’t here physically. My brother passed away about fourteen years ago, when he was only nine.

It all began one day when my parents noticed a spider bite on his leg. So they took him to the doctor, and there the doctor popped the blister he had and pus came out of it. That is when they detected that he had leukemia. All this was difficult for my parents because at that time they also had to take care of my other brother and I. My mom spent most of the time at the hospital, while my brother and I spent it with my aunt. Many family members helped out with my brother and me while my mom was at the hospital with my older brother, making sure he did well in his chemotherapy. My older brother and I weren’t aware of what was happening because we were just kids at the time. My brother was only four and I was only two.

For my brother and I, taking him flowers is a form of showing him how we miss him and wish he was here with us. It gives my brother and me a good feeling when we go and take flowers to him. There are times when we forget to take him flowers, but when we do go again we take him double the flowers.

In many Mexican families, not just mine, people care about their family in many ways. Not only do we take flowers to the cemetery, but we also gather as a family. We all enjoy ourselves together and talk about things.  In Mexican culture, families and mean everything to one another. People will do anything for their own people, no matter what the situation is. Family always comes first.

In my photograph the lighting is directed to the plaque and the flowers, the main points of interest in the image. The picture consists of darks and lights, which convey sad but happy tones.



Freedom Has Never Been Given!!!

Fredy Hernandez


I took this photo because I hardly ever see handmade signs at bus stops. This scene got my attention because of the way the lady is looking a little lost and because of the tents in the background. People don’t usually sleep in tents like that in the street, but this photo was taken in Downtown LA near City Hall at Occupy LA. 

The sign gives a vital message‚ “Freedom has never been given!!! It has been fought for.” It’s true because people do fight for their freedom. This message is important for people all over the world to see because the protestors who are sleeping in the tents are fighting for their rights and for freedom. I think that’s good because other people can probably hear their message.  I think the lady in my photo read the sign, but I wonder, because of the way she’s looking away, if she didn’t really care about it. 

While taking this photo, I was inside the bus coming from Downtown LA, and it had stopped. I then decided to take it as quickly as I could. The shadow focuses on the tents in the back and some of the trees.

My design of this photo has to do with the different colors that make the tents in the back stand out. I especially like the way the letters on the sign are red and the lady is wearing a long red coat that matches it.  The strongest colors that really stand out are the red and the bright blue of the tents.  Those are the colors of the flag that stands for freedom and liberty of all.




Life in East Los Angeles

Lizet Leal


Waking up at seven in the morning before going to school, I passed by my parents’ room to go to the kitchen and decided to take a picture of my dad sleeping. I always catch my dad under the covers with the remote control on top. I didn’t expect to take a picture of the background, but when I saw the picture I had taken a picture of the whole room. All the details I caught in my camera  show how my parents love having the Virgin Mary to always take care of them and protect them. 

Ever since my father got a heart attack in 2009, everything has changed. My father had been a very strong and healthy man. He’s gone through so many trials in life, especially since his heart attack, that I hope he lives many more years. In my religion we believe in God and the Virgin Mary; we always pray to them, especially when somebody’s hurt or in danger of death. My parents pray every night ever since my dad got the heart attack, and now they have the Virgin Mary and rosaries by his side to take care of him. 

Being Mexican is something special to me and my family. In our Mexican culture, religion is a very important part of our lives, and we believe in God, the Virgin Mary, and other saints. My parents brought these religious artifacts to the United States. Now, as you can see, these religious artifacts are behind my dad’s bed to protect him and keep him alive.

In our sessions, I learned some technical things about composition and design that I brought into my photo. The curtains behind my dad’s bed, the rags on top of it, the pillows, and blankets, all red, add a lot of color. The curtains, because of their bright red color, stand out and show contrast against all the white in the picture. Also, the red shows the love my parents have for each other. The Virgin Marys and rosaries, because of how they repeat, become like a rhythmic pattern. In all, the technical composition helps complete the picture and emphasize the meaning.

I have to say this photo project made me express myself a lot. My dad means a lot to me and has been there whenever I needed him, in my ups and downs. I thank God for blessing me with a really great and wonderful father. I appreciate everything he has done for me and love him so much.



Trompos (Tops)

Beatriz Magallanes


The definition of culture is summed up in one word: tradition. When I go back to my earliest memory, my brother Juan is there. My brother and I are very close. This trust started to develop at an early age when we would stand in our living room playing with the trompos, or tops, my grandfather had brought home with him. As we grew older, we started to change. We still had a very close relationship, but the things we did together changed. Our parents described our change as being Americanized. We stopped having top spinning competitions and started to talk on the phone or play video games.

One Saturday morning after I came back from teaching at my local church’s school, I suggested we go as a family to Olvera Street. Besides spending time with my family, I planned to take advantage and take some photographs of my culture found there. As we were walking around, I came upon a store that sold many different Mexican toys. As soon as I spotted the trompos, I called my brother and asked him to gaze at them. When he was doing this, I snapped the photograph. 

This photograph contains a very obvious directional movement. Because my brother is looking at the toys, the eye is led to the toys. The colors of the toys contrast with the colors my brother is wearing. The colors my brother is wearing are solid, while the toys have many different colors. The toys in this photograph are the center of interest. 

In this photograph two cultures are coming together in the life of one person, my brother.  The first culture in this photograph is the Mexican culture. In his childhood, my brother played with the different Mexican toys that are in the background. He was taught how to play with these toys by my father, who was taught by his grandfather, and so on. These trompos are a big tradition in the Mexican culture. The second culture in this photograph is the American culture. My brother is dressed like a “typical” American. He is wearing a baseball cap, a T-shirt, and a sweatshirt. Los Angeles is a city in which a person can learn about many different cultures that are not necessarily their own. My brother has learned about the American culture here. The Mexican and American cultures come together in the life of my brother. My brother has taken the Mexican culture and has mixed it with the American culture.




Cesar Marquez


I wanted to capture the innocence of a child. A child is full of life, joy, and no worries. This is an image of my little sister dressed up and playing around in our grandmother’s garden.  In this image I was able to capture my sister’s careless feeling about wearing a pink dress and white heels while playing and running in dirt and bushes. 

My little sister is leaving her childhood behind one step at a time. In the photograph it seems as if she is stepping into a new place. This can represent leaving childhood behind. My sister is in a stage where she is no longer considered a child nor a teenager. She is somewhere in between. I have seen her grow in the past years. She no longer likes her Dora the Explorer toys. She is now more into jewelry, lip gloss, and dresses. The change of color in the leaves of the bush show that the season is changing. This can also stand as a metaphor for the change in my sister’s life.

This photograph is about girl culture, a child’s growth, and the worries it brings. As her older brother, though, the uncertainty of this time of change makes me worry about her well-being and what her future will bring. The pink dress and the white heels give it the touch of an innocent little girl. I also believe that part of girl culture is that girls can always count on their families for the support they need while going through this transition in their lives.

When I took this photo, I noticed the beautiful light shining on her dress, making it glow in an iridescent way, adding rainbow colors to the shiny pink fabric. The light contrast gives a feel of movement and life to the photograph. The strong color contrast gives strength to the photo and helps lead the eye on to the main focus of the photograph. The strong color contrast in the photo helps you picture a story, almost as if she is leaving something dark behind in the past and stepping into the sunlight, out of darkness and into something new and beautiful.



Calvin Edward Mendoza


The photograph that I took was of two people both wearing makeup to look like skeletons. One is dressed as la Virgin de Guadalupe, and the other is dressed as a simple villager with his poncho and sombrero. The picture was taken at Self-Help Graphics & Art on 1st. The makeup on the woman has three small symbols on her face: one is the cross on her forehead, another is the pattern around her eyes, and the last is the marks on her chin. 

This was taken during Dia de los Muertos (in English, Day of the Dead), which is a festival celebrated right after Halloween on both November 1 and 2. I was there because my sister had to go to do a small report on that festival for school, and I thought that it would be a good idea to get a good look at our culture.

In our culture we remember those who have passed on to the other life. This tradition started after the Spanish and the Catholics took over most of Mexico.  The celebration is a mixture of both Catholic beliefs and ancient Aztec practices. This is also another way to celebrate our indigenous heritage. Though most people are more related to the Aztec, I am one-half Zapotec and not that close to the Aztec, but I still celebrate it due to the fact that I am a Indian relative to them. 

The photo contains rhythm, which is the pattern it has between the darkness in the photo and the light in their faces and the background. The photo can be broken up in to three pieces both vertically and horizontally (the rule of threes). The center of interest seems to be the faces of the two people and how the woman’s face is looking past you.



Is This Normal?

Jessica Mejia


One beautiful Saturday morning, when I was talking to my dad outside in the backyard about the Getty project, I turned around because my sister was calling me. In the moment I saw my mom all concentrating, texting her friend. I had to take the picture.

In the background you can also see a statue of a horse, a book, and several religious figures. This is significant because in Mexican culture we have very strong religious beliefs and believe that if you have faith in something it might come true. That’s why in my house we have a lot of statues of saints, like San Judas Tadeo and la Virgen de Guadalupe.

This scene also caught my attention because it displays how technology has infiltrated every part of our lives and everybody is using it, even my mother. I think it’s interesting because my mom used to question me about why I’m texting all the time or ask me who I am texting. But one day she came home all happy with a new phone, and she asked my sister to teach her how to text. I was happy because finally she wasn’t going to bug me about using my phone all the time.

The different contrast between her dark clothes and the light colors in the background make her stand out. There are small beautiful colorful details that tell the story. For example, her blue cell phone and her pink scrunchie stand out from the picture. Is important to have these details in this photograph because they help you understand the person better.




Angel Miranda


This photo seemed appealing to me because it looked ominous and appeared to be a real skull. It made a simple celebration into a real scene of human remains. I took this picture in the concession stands at the Dia de los Muertos celebration in Mariachi Plaza. The skull represents death and the passage of souls. Day of the Dead is important for Chicano community because it links it back to its original heritage.`

I was under some pretty harsh circumstances because it was dark, crowded, and loud. It was really hard to capture a photo that wasn’t blurry, so I decided to go to where the novelties were sold and took a picture of a prop skull that I liked. I was at the celebration because I wanted to experience it firsthand instead of watching it on the news. It was a prop skull on a black linen table with jewelry around where the neck would be. The festival itself was really cool and entertaining because they displayed original artwork and Day of the Dead interpretations of other artwork. Because it was my first time, everything was new, and that made the experience that much better.

I don’t celebrate Day of the Dead, and neither does my family, because we don’t really see the point. My grandparents celebrated it, but now we just don’t get around to it. I am the first generation as a Mexican-American, and the will to celebrate it fell even lower with me and my brothers and sister. Although it may not be important to me, it is important to the Mexican culture because it allows people to come to terms with losing their loved ones.



We Are Not a Minority

Javier Montanez


The photograph I took exemplifies Mexican culture. I took this photo because the mural captured my attention by how it expresses Mexican culture in society. I felt it’s something that should be recognized and respected by everyone. The fence plays a key role in the photograph because it represents a force in front of the mural; the painting is trying to escape from discrimination and the corrupt society. The message behind the fence brings a sense that we are all equal to one another.

The man’s expression has a direct approach, as if it’s referring to you.  The letters in the painting also have a powerful message that explains how people have power and would like to get our voices out and heard by everyone. The layers of the photo bring a sense of rise; the photograph starts from the ground and moves its way up to the painting. The colors in the photograph represent a sense of unity, harmony, and coming together. It’s a peaceful painting, yet also very demanding and striving for equality. 



Born and Raised in Boyle Heights

Jessica Munoz


When you first take a glance at this picture, you will see how it’s in and out of focus. Because of the way it has high contrast, it gives a mysterious look. So, depending on your philosophy, you will probably imagine all kinds of different stories. Many people will think it’s probably just another group of youngsters who were caught with drugs or vandalizing property, and the cops have every right to search them because they look like gangsters. You see, that’s where you’re wrong. 


This is how it happened…


We were on a class field trip photographing the community of East LA, and we happened to be at La Plaza De Mariachi. That’s where people go to hear the mariachi play and to join the festivities they have. It was still morning, and the plaza was a little empty. All you saw were people waiting around to catch the Metro. As my friend and I took a break and sat on the benches, I turned around. That’s when I saw the officers pull over by the sidewalk. They stopped two youngsters who were not even really bagged out; they were dressed casual. They stopped them, made them spread their legs, and began to search them right away. They made it seem like they were doing something bad. 

So without even thinking I picked up the camera and shot it. The moment I took it, I knew this would be the right picture to show how people always misinterpret East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights…

When people don’t really know your community, they get judgmental about how they’re dressed and the way they look. They start judging one person, and by that one person they judge everyone else. That’s the problem we have here. We get criticized for being ghetto, and we always get put down. We are automatically accused of stuff because of the way we look or act, but is it our fault we’re in poverty? Is it our fault that for years, people have been judging us because of the color of our skin and making us feel ashamed of it? No, it’s not our fault, and we are not ashamed!

Why would we be ashamed of being Chicanos? For years, our people and our heroes such as Ruben Salazar and Cesar E. Chavez have been fighting for us. We finally have a voice, and we are not going to let anyone take it away from us. We might live in the ghetto and look all banged out, but when it comes down to it our community, we always sticks together because we were born and raised in Boyle Heights and East LA!



Hipster or Homeless?

Armando Murillo


This picture was taken Downtown, where Occupy LA is going on. It picture appealed to me when I took it because the man in the picture looked like a normal homeless man. I actually thought the man might be a hipster because hipsters sometimes look like homeless people, but sometimes they just follow the newest fashions. This man is wearing pink and yellow, and has a beard. This picture just makes you wonder if he is a homeless man or a hipster.

Eventually I happened to pass through the Occupy LA camp, which had people that looked just like this man. They were protesting about the distribution of wealth going on in the country, and they looked the same as this man. Occupy LA is about how corporations are 1% and the other 99% are the people, but the money is not distributed equally. I agree with the protest, but many people may not know that these people in Occupy LA just want to be as equal as the big money corporations. The picture shows present-day life in Los Angeles since many people are living in the streets due to the economic crisis going on.

This composition is my favorite because the picture is asymmetrical and has some really great colors such as pink and yellow. The colors stood out to me because they were really bright. The picture emphasizes the man’s jacket as well as his face because the colors in the back are dark, which helps the bright colors stand out. The texture seems rough because the man’s beard seems uncared for because he probably can’t afford to buy a razor. All the colors just help balance out the picture since the dark colors mix great with the bright ones. I really enjoy looking at this picture, whether or not the guy was homeless or a hipster. 


The Link

Luis Nava


East Los Angeles is filled with many cultures and traditions, but it mostly revolves around the Mexican culture and traditions. One day as I was walking to the car with my family, I happened to notice a man, around his mid twenties, standing on top of his roof with his hands raised high to the heavens. At that moment I was thrilled to take the photograph. My head was wondering, “Why would this man be standing on his roof after a rainy morning when the roof is wet?” At the same time I was thinking, “Man, we Mexicans are one crazy bunch!” At this house, every Saturday, there is a party—not like an ordinary party, but house parties that sometimes even get raided by policemen.

What I was trying to accomplish is to try to connect the heavens with the earth. There were many elements I used in that helped me emphasize this. The house is light blue and the sky is too. This adds a connection between both sky and ground. I also tried using many lines that are directed toward the top left. I use the wire lines that cross each other to guide your eyes. They run parallel through the photograph toward one direction, but there are also contradicting lines that guide in a different direction, allowing a cruise of the photograph. I used the man as the “link” (a line) that connects the two things, heaven and earth.

I also wanted to add a good setting in the shot. I included the foreground, which are the electric wires in the top right, while the clouds and the sky are in the background. The man is the main point of the photograph; thus he is in the middle. The light is exceptional; I shot it at the perfect time since the sunlight is against him. The light is looking right at him while he is raising his hands to the heavenly sky.

I tried to have the man in the top left of the photograph, which adds some empty space, therefore making the image asymmetrical. The empty space also adds a balance to the photograph because the man is seen as heavier than empty space; by adding more space onto the side, it balances the photograph.

And now I would just like to say… This man was up on the roof on his own. He was not posing, and it was just a coincidence I saw him there. No person was hurt in the production of the image, and I am sure he had a good reason to be there.



Mysteries Inside the Unknown

Jaime Negrete


The Golden Gate Theater was built in the year 1927 on the prominent corner of Whittier and Atlantic in East Los Angeles. It was one of a handful of neighborhood movie palaces remaining in Southern California. In the year 1987 it suffered severe damage from the Whittier Earthquake; since then it has been closed down. It was shocking to find out that it’s about to be turned very soon into a CVS/pharmacy. The building is important to our culture because it was the first in East Los Angeles to be a historical landmark. It has been there for many decades, and it brings memories of what happened years ago.

I remember first seeing this building when I was six years old. It was pretty scary at first, but years after I went back to the same location and realized it was wonderful. I wanted to see what was inside. It just had that creepy mysterious feeling that I love. I wished one day that I would have that opportunity to see what was behind those close doors. 

We were on a school photography field trip on October 20, and luckily for me and my group, the Golden Gate Theater was open! We did the impossible and found the man in charge of the site to ask him to let us in. He told us yes. It was such an exciting moment for me because of all the stories I heard over the years. My parents told me about stepping inside the theater as young teenagers together for their first date. My parents were about the same age as I was when they stepped foot in the theater. It brings up how the culture back in East Los Angeles was then, compared to today’s generation of theaters and how we teenagers go out on dates. 

In my photograph, I chose to focus on the staircase with the beautiful centerpiece. You can still see its white and gold color, but in the background there are a lot of damaged walls and tagging. Up close you can see many different patterns as well as a variety of colors. You can see how the dark colors contrast with the light colors as the sunlight came through the open doors and reflected upon the light colors. That light helped to highlight the many different formations of the lines. You can see the different forms of the lines through the borders, the stairs, and the staircase railing.

This photo represents to me an amazing life experience that I will never forget, especially since it is going to be transformed into a local CVS and will never be the same again.



The Blind Man

Erik Nochez


This photograph was taken in Chinatown, near Downtown Los Angeles. The picture is of a person raising his left hand, surrounded by propaganda posters. The perspective of the picture is diagonal. Within the grid of posters and text is a strong diagonal of the figure’s left arm. The person throwing his left arm up seems to be standing up for himself. These posters revolve around the subject of contradiction. Plenty of cultures are in the photo; I notice Asian, Latino, and African-American culture.

This to me is street graffiti. I believe that anything that is posted on streetlights, walls, stop signs, etc. is a form of graffiti. Graffiti to me is indeed part of a culture. I find graffiti a simple way of expressing your feelings.  The form of changing each letter is extremely amazing. Having to promote propaganda is a way of expressing your beliefs or what you think about the world we live in. In my picture, this is a form of expressing how they feel about contradiction. It seems as if the different cultures are against contradiction, because the poster that had the word contradiction has posters around it. In street art there are different forms of communicating with each other. The artists communicate by posting different posters. Each artist responds to the previous artist with his or her own message, creating conversations with each other in the same space.



Free Rising

Nathaniel Aaron Ojeda


This photograph is made to represent youth culture, though not all of us skateboard. But skateboarding is much more than a sport; it’s a statement. This photograph was taken as my friend, Roland O’cello, was attempting a trick. No, he did not make it the first couple of attempts, but he got right back up and tried it again. Yes, he did gain a couple bruises and scratches, but it pays off in the end. The statement made is that we don’t give up until we get what we want, no matter the conditions.  We do this for ourselves, just for the joy of accomplishment, just as we do as we grow up. Today our generation strives to be what we want to be, to fulfill our dreams. When life’s obstacles are put in our way we do not go around them: we go over them, in style, just as you do in skateboarding, with a trick here and there.

I got the shot in mid-trick, for it shows that there’s still progression on the way. We are not done; there is much more to come. The positioning of my main focus (the skateboarder) also connects with progression. He is positioned at the bottom for he has only begun, working his way to the top. It is as if he is floating from left to right, and upward toward the top, to the sky. Also his expression tells a lot: determination, putting your heart out there for what you want. Without determination we cannot do anything. We as youth have that determination, for our life is barely beginning.

The background also plays a key role in the message derived from the photo. It is very plain, as if he is put against a wall, as if we youth are put against a wall. The greenish-blue color also relaxes the mind, for it is such a cooling color to the eye. It gives you a sense of growth, of harmony, of endurance, of stability. 

Overall my photo depicts the uprising of youth in life and society—not only in my generation, but of every generation—to pursue, achieve, and inspire.



The Bakery

Zennia Exlia Orozco


Pan dulce is a big part of my life. My great grandmother, Guadalupe Guerro, always gave it to me. She was a big part of my life until she passed away. The pan dulce in the photo reminded me of her because she would always give me and my cousins pan dulce with avena or Hot Cheetos.

My nana (my grandma, but I’m used to calling her Nana) still buys pan dulce, but she does not give it to us like my great grandma would. My nana just puts it on the table so we can just grab it and munch on it.

This photograph was taken at the bakery on First Street. When I captured this photo, I was thinking about a hardworking lady. She made my photograph stand out a lot more because of her facial expression. I was also thinking about the colors, the patterns, and all the lines. I love how the pan dulce stands out because of the colors.



Dead Alive 

Saul Padilla


When I was taking this photograph, the range from the camera to the magazine and the person was really tricky. I took several different angles of the picture until I finally captured this one. What really caught my attention most was how the lady from the picture in the magazine was so pale she looked white. I thought it was interesting because it emphasizes the picture. When you first look at it, the one thing you notice is the color of her skin and her red lips. She looks exhausted, or maybe tired of something. It looks as if maybe she doesn’t have enough time to worry about how her hair looks.

This lady reminds me of what my mom used to say: you can tell if a person is hardworking with only the looks of their hands. In the picture from the magazine, you can see the lady’s face, and her hand lies out on the desk. I thought it was interesting how only her face and her hand would show.

The repetition of the ladies in the picture from the magazine was also interesting. It looks as if the lady had her own project to do. It looks as if she was studying the history of the other lady. And in the bottom left corner you can read the illustration, which says, “I served time in prison.” I don’t know exactly what that means or why it’s there, but that’s what got me to think the lady was studying the history of the other woman from the picture. Maybe she served time for an unjust law, and that’s what she’s studying.

The last thing that caught my attention about this photograph was the scissors in the bottom right corner. It looks as if the scissors were left purposely pointing at the words that say, “I served time in prison.” I was fascinated because I didn’t do it intentionally; I used those scissors to cut the picture out of the magazine. When I took a second look, I really noticed it and wished I did that intentionally. The scissors help emphasize the words that are almost small enough not to notice.




Nanette Perea


My mother’s childhood was beautiful. She was never talked to about God, nor about faith, nor was she taken to church by her mother because my grandmother believed in her faith her own way. This made my mother change in a complete different way: she became a woman of strong faith. That made me realize that there was such a thing as faith. A light that shimmers and sparkles resembles the unfailing faith she holds with in her. That faith of hers is what keeps me going.

My mother’s background was a very abusive childhood. She saw her mother, as well as her sisters and brothers, being abused by her father. Hers was a childhood where love and comfort never were brought up once growing up. Her mother was never involved or concerned about her education. As a child, my mother was independent and responsible; she wanted to make a difference.

My childhood was completely different than my mom’s. Growing up I had all the attention possible, and the love and comfort from my mother, a woman who I can come to and count on and not be judged by. She’s involved in my education; she never misses an event. My mother has really been a great mom who cares, is involved, and has great communication with me. She’s an inspiration to look up to.

Every time I see that light sparkle and shine, I think of that beautiful woman who is always filled with joy, who always has something positive to say, who I can be thankful for. She has taught me a lot, and I have learned new things from her. Thanks to my mother I am who I am today.



The Golden Secret

Bianca Perez


On a Thursday morning, my photography group took a field trip to Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles. My group and I approached the Golden Gate Theater, and as we got closer, I knew that this would be a great subject to photograph. This picture got my attention because it looks like the theater used to be very famous and beautiful. The shell in the front looks like it used to be a luxurious fountain.

The theater was built in 1927 and was closed in 1986. It was damaged in 1987 because of the Whittier Narrows earthquake. This theater has still been standing for more than 20 years.

We got in because a guy talked to his manager, and his manager said that it was okay for us to go inside and take pictures. It was amazing just going inside. After we got in, we had to be careful because there was glass all over. When I went inside I had chills. 




Edessa Perez


Downtown LA is one of the busiest places there is in Los Angeles, where either the biggest events are held or the busiest jobs are. During this time, Olvera Street was celebrating the Day of the Dead, one of the biggest events in Mexican culture. Union Station is located close to Olvera, and because of the event, Union Station was at its busiest.

When I walk into the Union Station, there is always movement from different people, from the children to the elders. Japanese, Mexican, African-American, Caucasian, and many more people are all in mind of a certain place to be. Many walk through the station to reach a different part of Los Angeles. Union Station is a place where the businesspeople go on their way to work, such as the couple in the photo, who are dressed formally and are walking out of Union Station to arrive on time to their jobs. People in the station are minding their own business.

Union Station can be considered the intersection of different cultures because of the different people who go through, such as a Mexican grandmother, or an African-American male, or Caucasian children running around. But even though there are different cultures, one thing that they all have in common is the way each person has a destination to get to. Everyone who is anyone in Los Angeles, no matter what race or culture they are, always will be on the move. In that way we have a common culture.

The lighting in the photograph emphasizes the look of people who are on the move to reach to the destination they have in mind. The lighting may highlight the movement as well give the mood of being rushed.



The Accordion Man

Graciela Reyna


I took this photo while walking along Cesar Chavez. I came across a restaurant that caught my attention because of the colorful folk art it had. I noticed a man sitting outside of this restaurant with an accordion by his side. I figured the man in the photo must be a retired elder, the kind I’ve seen in restaurants playing regional Mexican music. I tried to take this photo without him noticing because I wanted to get a shot of him as he gazed beyond the crowd of people.

I chose to photograph this man because I feel like I can relate to him. He reminds me of my grandfather who lived in Mexico. I saw him only during Christmas vacation. This photograph reminds me of my culture’s traditions and celebrations, except that it’s taken in another country that is not Mexico.

This photograph was taken in a community that is mostly populated by Hispanics, yet there are still people from diverse backgrounds. The photo represents an adaptation of Mexican culture and how it’s shared among different people since it is an area that has art, food, and traditions from Mexico along with people from different cultures. The man in the photograph is someone who shares music from his region, and in the background there is a Mexican restaurant that shares its flavor and art with people who may not know it or people who do enjoy going there because it reminds them of where they came from.

I chose to include the color of the floor on the sidewalk because it shows the liveliness and energy that different cultures put into this country. I also chose to make the man shown the center of interest because his attire and musical instrument show the tradition of a culture. I chose to include the variety of lines that are on the black gate, bricks, and floor because it’s similar to the variety of cultures there can be in an area.



Dia de los Muertos

Daniel Rodriguez


This picture was taken during a Dia de los Muertos festival. I was really moved when I went there to see the Mexican culture. It opened up my eyes to see what other people’s views are in our world. I realized when I went to the festival that every person holds something dear, even if they have different perspectives.

When I took this picture, it was I felt like I had finally accomplished something as a growing photographer. This photo gave me confidence because not only does the picture stand out, it also shows a powerful message to viewers that every culture has its own beliefs in the world and that people should take pride in what they represent. I take pride in Dia de los Muertos not just because I am Hispanic, but also because I share the very same values as those who represent Day of the Dead.

The lighting of the photo captured my eye because when people think of darkness, they usually think of death, and this is a strong feeling associated with Day of the Dead. I also liked the look on the woman’s face because it seems like she is reminiscing about a loved one who passed away. It really shines in the picture. You can see her feelings in the picture, and I think that is what makes this photo amazing. I really like the contrast in the picture simply because the woman is wearing white and the background is dark. Where she is standing makes the photo appealing. I used the rule of thirds to make the angle of the woman stand out, and I believe I did a tremendous job capturing this photo.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.