THE FOTO AWARDS PRESENTED BY LAS FOTOS PROJECT: Uzuri Ray in Conversation with Savannah Dodd
Las Fotos Project was launched to provide opportunities for those who are both systemically and socially silenced to make themselves heard
This week in honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we are celebrating a wonderful organization in Los Angeles, the Las Fotos Project, and The Foto Awards taking place tonight, October 22, 2022. Today we celebrate Uzuri Ray, winner of the Student Advocacy Award.
Las Fotos Project’s mission is to elevate the voices of teenage girls through photography and mentoring, empowering them to channel their creativity for the benefit of themselves, their community and future careers. The organization was founded in 2010 to introduce teenage girls to the transformational power of photography and advance positive change in the surrounding community.
Uzuri Ray is a 14-year-old Mexican-American photographer from Los Angeles. Many of their photography projects have centered around Boyle Heights, the community in which she was born and raised. Their photographs tend to focus on the relationships she builds with her family and her wider community. Through her photographs, Uzuri strives to capture special moments that tell stories about her connections to the people and places pictured.
My name is Uzuri Ray. I am a Mexican-American 14-year-old. I was born in Los Angeles and have lived in Boyle Heights all my life. I like photography because I love having the opportunity to capture special moments. I love how pictures can tell stories and I always try to take photos that have some kind of connection to me.
Savannah Dodd: Why have you chosen to use photography as your medium of creative expression?
Uzuri Ray: I never really thought of photography as something I would use until I joined the Las Fotos Project. I always really loved collaging and doodling but when I joined Las Fotos Project I found photography could capture some feeling I wasn’t getting with collaging. I loved that I could tell the story of real people by just taking a photo. I found one picture that could tell a whole life story.
SD: Tell us a little bit about the kinds of photographs you most enjoy making.
URL: I love taking portraits, especially when those I take pictures of least expect it. People who aren’t used to getting their pictures taken are often the best subjects, due to the fact they are often awkward when being photographed. The awkwardness always helps make the pictures seem more personal.
SD: A lot of your work has focused on relationships with your family and people in your community. What is your intention behind these photographs?
UR: I want to be able to take pictures that show who my subjects are. If I know my subjects personally I find it easier to take pictures of them. I also want to be able to share the important stories of my community and family members.
SD: How did you get involved in Las Fotos Project and what have you gained from your involvement?
UR: My mom suggested I sign up for the Las Fotos Project because I had wanted to start getting back into art and I didn’t know what to do. I thought photography could help with my collaging so I signed up. Throughout the time I’ve been with Las Fotos Project I’ve discovered and deepened my passion for photography. I’ve also gotten lots of experience in the photography field and I was able to see what careers in photography can mean.
SD: What does winning the Advocacy Youth Award mean to you?
UR: Winning the Advocacy Youth Award is so rewarding for me. I love that I can share the stories of people in my community. Especially those who have such rich histories.
SD: What future aspirations do you have in photography?
UR: In the future, I want to continue exploring the history of my community members and sharing their stories. I want to explore more possible careers in photography as well as how I can share important stories with larger audiences.
Savannah Dodd is an anthropologist and photographer based in Northern Ireland. She founded the Photography Ethics Centre in 2017 with the aim of raising awareness about the ethics of taking and sharing visual media. Savannah designs and delivers workshops, lectures, and other educational content for international audiences from a variety of sectors including media, academia, and international development. In 2020, her edited volume titled Ethics and Integrity in Visual Research Methods was published by Emerald Publishing Group. Savannah sits on the UK Committee for the Ethical Journalism Network, the board of Source Magazine, and on the inaugural ethics panel for the Environmental Photographer of the Year Award.
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