Fine Art Photography Daily

The CENTER Awards: The Director’s Choice Award 1st Place Winner: Sandra Chen Weinstein


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Barbara and Jess. Barb and Jess are going to get married after a few years of companionship in the Bay area.

Congratulations to Sandra Chen Weinstein  for her First Place win in CENTER’S Director’s Choice Award for her project, Transcend. The Choice Awards recognize outstanding photographers working in all processes and subject matter. Images can be singular or part of a series. Winners receive Complimentary participation and presentation at Review Santa Fe for the 1st place winner in each category, work in the Winners Exhibition at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, and an Online exhibition at

Juror Rubén Esparza, Independent Curator; Founder and Director, Queer Biennial shares his insights:

I was impressed by the quality and diversity of work—it was truly difficult to select top-tiered work. I made new discoveries that I will follow and explore.

My own personal criteria for discerning art and photography is to look at work that represent technical and aesthetic shifts from what is already out there; a new take or observation of the zeitgeist, the sociopolitical, and cultural pronouncements. The work that I selected touches on these points. These particular works of art (photography) shine a light on people living in the margins of communities and are usually maligned and, or scapegoated. To focus on these subjects is to acknowledge them and to speak truth to societal ills.

Work that mostly focuses on clever composition and color imaginations is much appreciated, but not enough for highlighting at this particular juncture.



©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Bryce. ”I love to dance. It took some time for my family to accept who I am but I know they love me.”

Rubén Esparza (Founder, Queer Biennial) is an artist and independent curator based in Los Angeles. Esparza’s studio practice spans painting, drawings, and photography, mixing it with elements of Conceptualism, ethnicity and Queer Culture. His curatorial work focuses on under-represented artists primarily in the queer and ethnic communities. His work is included as part of the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Santa Barbara Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, Illinois, among others.

He has created events and curated exhibitions across the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Esparza is the Founder and Director of the Queer Biennial anchored in Los Angeles, with satellites in New York, Mexico, Miami, Paris, Tel Aviv. and Zürich. He has curated exhibitions at the Ace Hotel/LA, Coagula Curatorial/LA, Industry Gallery/LA, Navel/LA, and the San Diego Art Institute.


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Ethan and Cami. “A large part of my identity revolves around being transgender. It impacts every aspect of my life. Every day when I get dressed I am making a statement about who I am. My younger sister has always supported and loved me for who I am. But, my friends are also part of my chosen family when my biological family was not there for me.” – Ethan. “Ethan and I have always been best friends growing up. His transition was a big part of not only his life, but mine as well. I look up to him because of his constant positive attitude about life, regardless of what he’s been through.” – Cami


This is a story of relationships but most importantly, love.  This collection of intimate portraits and stories of people and their loved ones, families or chosen families, including my own, from a diverse LGBTQ community which constantly struggles for equality and acceptance.

My adult child came out as queer, transgender, non-binary and is collaborating with me in writing in this book.  This series of 30 family images are displayed with their own quotes and stories about themselves and their loved ones. The work seeks to aid social justice against stereotypes and stigma that have long existed.


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Alejandro and Alexander. ” At 18 years old I was outed. Kicked out of home same day. Didn’t talk to my dad for years. Struggled with abandonment. Lived recklessly for a few years. Made it out of the struggle. Found a man that I made my husband. Family came to wedding (progress). Still struggle. but have a therapist

Sandra Chen Weinstein is self-taught and inspired by Sebastião Salgado and Magnum photographers. Sandra’s work focuses on documentary photography emphasizing human condition in social identity, culture, and minorities. She has dedicated long-term projects on women, minorities, and American pop culture. Sandra has lived and worked in Washington DC, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Canada while working with American Agency. While living in Japan, She taught Mandarin in College and studied ceramic art and exhibited this work in Japan and the US. Upon returning to Southern California in the late ‘90s, she worked in technology and finance before she found passion using photography as her medium of art. In 2007-2008, she worked for master photographer of Magnum Photos Eli Reed, as personal assistant.

Sandra has received numerous distinguished awards including: National Geographic Magazine International contest winner for People & Reader’s Collection, First Place Director’s Choice Award CENTER, 1st Prize (Open Category) Kuala Lumpur International Photo awards, 1st Prize Winner of Robert Cornelius Portrait Award, Runner-Up for International Conservation Award in Culture, The Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, American Photography AI-AP Book Collections and the Archive New York, and many other distinguished awards in U.S. galleries, museums. Her award-winning work has graced the covers and pages of many including European Photography Magazine, FotoMagazine Germany, Color Magazine, B/W Magazine, and more.

Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally including Aperture Gallery, Annenberg Space of Photography etc., and the countries of Japan, New Zealand, Australia, China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Spain.

Her work is in several private collections including: Museum, Gallery, University, Arab American Culture Center, Technology Corporation, and more.


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Jeffrey and Amela. “A new segment ‘Gay Christians’… That single event allowing me ‘license’ to explore deep rooted same sex feelings. I shared with my then wife I believed I was gay. Ultimately I left the marriage.”-Jeffrey. “Since middle school I found I liked wearing guy’s clothes and was attracted to girls.” – Amela


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Lee and Me. ““ A blessing and a perfect child. I was surprised when Lee told me only recently. We are always very close and it will always be so. My love for my child is infinite and unconditional.” -Sandra ( me)


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Emment. “”After leaving Sweden, I found my chosen families within the Trans community in America.”


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Asher. ““Over the year, I’ve just… I moved closer and closer to who I personally identify with. For my Dad, it’s become further and further away from what his idea of me was.”- Asher


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Olivia. “I am a school teacher and always have a passion for educating youngsters despite the struggles of my own.”


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, – Alexia. “I liked playing with dolls and dressing up ever since I was 3. Growing up with parents, the difficult relationship was hard because of the denial from my father. They got divorced. My mom is a strong woman and raised me – allowing me to be who I wanted to be.”


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Bill, John & Dash. “Spending time with Grandad and Tio is really fun. Their house is a safe place. We laugh a lot. We take fun trips.” – Dash “Living and loving John over these past 12 years has been the easiest and most profound experience for me. When we got married two years ago John and I were knocked off our feet by the love and support from out gay friends and straight friend and family.” – John


©Sandra Chen Weinstein, Kathy, Lee & Nikki. “When Lee and I met in 1989, people in the LGBT community were still closeted, even in areas like Boston, NYC, and San Francisco. We were intentional about coming out to our managers at work and explaining to colleagues our plans to marry and have children. Lee is the birth parent of our two daughters, who are genetic siblings.” – Kathy

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