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Video: Empowering young Latinas with a camera and their own voices

LatinaLista — In 2010, Los Angeles-based photographer Eric V. Ibarra embarked on a mission — to boost the self-confidence and self-esteem of low-income Latina youth. But how can one man make a difference in the lives of so many young girls?

Ibarra knew how — teach young Latinas a skill that can empower them to use their voices to tell the world who they are and where they come from. For Ibarra, empowerment comes from taking pictures and it was something that he knew could help these young Latinas too.

Ibarra created Las Fotos Project (LFP) which arms young girls with cameras. The purpose of Las Fotos Project is not to have the girls just take random pictures but to take pictures with a purpose and use photography as an art medium to tell a story, whether’s it’s their story or someone else’s.

Ibarra and his team believe that approaching photography as art “teaches positive communication, problem solving, literacy, awareness, and lifelong learning skills” to girls for whom a successful future depends on how they deal with life’s daily challenges.

Through partnerships with art galleries and non-profit organizations, Las Fotos Project has been able to make a difference in the lives of Latina youth by arranging to have their work showcased in gallery exhibits and online.

One of the most recent projects of LFP was providing free photojournalism workshops for five young Latinas so that they could contribute to a special series titled “Mi Inspiración.” For the series, the girls were asked to select and document a Latina who inspired them.

In the featured video, 17-year-old Diana Nava chose her best friend Brenda. Brenda is an AB540 student, which in California means that she is undocumented. Through her series of photos and accompanying audio, Diana reveals why Brenda is an inspiration to her and, in the process, reveals just how challenging the lives are of some young Latinas.

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