In a Series of Photos, Young L.A. Artists Capture the Experience of Growing Up

Four Las Fotos Project photographers talk about their artistic intentions

Over the course of three months this year, 12 young L.A. photographers turned their lenses on themselves for a change. They’re part of Las Fotos Project, a community-based non-profit organization that uses photography to inspire creativity in teenage girls. The purpose of this particular assignment was for the young women to explore the phases of their adolescence by digging deep into how their private and public lives continue to shape the people they are, and how they can capture it in photos.


In the new exhibit Faces & Phases, the photographers were able to showcase their inner lives—the anger, the anxiety, the joy they’ve experienced—as they navigate their paths to womanhood. Four of the photographers—Romina Estrada, Tonali Murrillo, Ashley Sanchez, and Greisy Hernandez—told us about the images they created for the exhibit, which is on display at Las Fotos Project’s Lincoln Heights headquarters through January 19.

Romina Estrada

Photo by Romina Estrada for Las Fotos Project

“The night I took this photograph, I was watching Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet and I fell in love with the religious imagery throughout the film. Crosses, churches, Mother Mary, statues of Christ, angels, candles, prayer cards: the whole package. I noticed it correlated with my fascination for religion, religious figures, and the concept of faith. In my adolescence, I grew up going to Catholic school my whole life and when I stopped attending just last year, I found myself diving into the world of religious studies. With religion, you don’t know for sure if something is out there, but that’s the whole concept of faith, to give up everything, your lifestyle, for something that we don’t even know exists. I appreciate that from people. Combining my adoration for religion and the film, I decided to create this picture to demonstrate my never-ending fascination with religious beliefs.”

Tonali Murillo

Photo by Tonali Murillo for Las Fotos Project

“I chose red because there has been a lot of anger in my life. I chose to silence myself because I don’t like talking about [those things]. Sometimes I think too much and it hurts my head. A lot of kids my age or under [can] relate to my worries and thoughts; I wanted to show what I was feeling through a picture [because] young people sometimes have a hard time saying or showing their emotions.”

Ashley Sanchez

Photo by Ashley Sanchez for Las Fotos Project

“I normally go outside of my house a lot when I’m not feeling the best, and being outside relaxes me. It’s rare for me to be happy, but whenever I’m outside it makes me feel a lot better. The reason why I chose this photo is because this is a phase I’m in right now. It reflects the person I am.”

Greisy Hernandez

Photo by Greisy Hernandez for Las Fotos Project

“There is a story behind the basketball net, it is meant to symbolize a struggle I had to overcome and it reminds me of how important it is to have a support system, especially as a woman of color. By support system I mean consciously surrounding myself with people that inspire me, want to see me win and have mutual support. I’m not a professional basketball player and I no longer play [the sport] but I’m proud to say that during this phase, I was able to get on the team regardless of my height. I know there will be other obstacles that will try to limit me based on my gender or race, and I want this image to be a reminder to myself and anyone else that everything I need is already within me. I am more than capable of attaining my goals with the right amount of discipline, consistency, and support.”

Las Fotos Project presents Faces & Phases, a Youth Photo Exhibit is on view through January 19, 2019. You can RSVP for tickets here

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