Las Fotos Project Collaboration: Reflecting on New Beginnings

girl with eyes lit by sun

Published January 25, 2023

In a collaboration between NHM and Las Fotos Project, teenage girls and gender-expansive youth from communities of color were invited to reflect on the theme of “becoming” to celebrate the transformation the NHM Commons project brings to the museums and our community. 

Las Fotos Project’s mission is to elevate the voices of teenage girls and gender-expansive youth from communities of color through photography and mentoring, empowering them to channel their creativity for the benefit of themselves, their community, and their future careers. Three youth photographers from Las Fotos Project’s CEO (Creative Entrepreneurship Opportunities) program leveraged their visual storytelling skills and high-quality photography to depict new beginnings in L.A. NHM is thrilled to elevate the voices and art of the Las Fotos Project community as one of the Museum's Community Partners

Meet the Photographers 

Woman with white and red shirt on purple background

Caitlin Jane “CJ “ Calica (she/her) is a 17-year-old photographer from Glendale, California. Her interest in photography was ignited by taking photos for her high school’s Yearbook Club. Her ability to capture the environment and people around her has also encouraged her passion. She has been a member of Las Fotos Project for over four semesters, focusing on self-expression through mixed media pieces. Her work incorporates a variety of media, from overlay sketches to collages, all with the objective of honoring her Filipino ancestors and religious background. Inspired by the work of Nadia Lee Cohen and Matsuzuki Akemi, Calica aims to construct a signature look that is distinguishable by its color schemes and symmetry. Her future aspirations include continuing to work in editorial and mixed-media photography and working with more brands.

Four people smiling with nature in background
two people hugging
Groups of people posing near tree
Three people with post
Group of people gathered
Two people together
three friends on bench
Three people arm in arm

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Person wearing purple shirt on bright background

Melania Espinal (they, age 16) lives in Los Angeles, California. Being hyper-curious, ambitious, and idealistic, they usually find themselves daydreaming about their future and new creative projects. They love architecture, ceramics, and the material nature of film photography. Art-making and reading are very important to them and are a driving force in everything they do. They love to explore, and find the utmost inspiration in the spaces and structures around them. They try to capture this in myriad ways and different media, from fine art to portraiture.

Person in rock formation
Vasquez Rocks
Person sitting on rock
Two people sitting on rock
Person on top of rocks
Person with mountains in background
girl with eyes lit by sun
Person Looking at hand

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Person wearing back shirt on purple background

Celeste Umana (she/her, age 17) is a Latina photographer from South L.A. Since 2016, she has been a member of Las Fotos Project, where she’s had the opportunity to experiment with many different styles of photography. She uses light, color, and candid portraiture to express the full range of human emotions and expression. Through her work, she has developed a keen eye for detail, and her creative approach shines through her compositions. Umana’s life experiences inform her passion for representation behind and in front of the camera, and she hopes to continue photography as a means of long-form storytelling into adulthood.

Folklorico dancers
Man and girl on bench
Close up of Marigolds
Group of folklorico dancers
Street at night with people blurred
Person posing in frontvof flowers
Trees and rocks
Virgin Mary with "our brown queen" text above

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Learn more about Las Fotos Project and how they empower youth to channel their creativity for the benefit of themselves, their community, and future careers.