Our Beautiful Struggle
I created Unbound Photography because of two major events: the completion of "UNbound" the Coffee Table book produced by Top Model Tomiko Fraser, and because of a student who inspired me greatly, and who is faced with challenges he should never have to endure.
Completing UNbound was an invigorating accomplishment in my life, partly because it was my first full length photography book, partly because the stories of the 40 women brought me to tears, and mostly because I was 9 months pregnant and we completed all the photography in three 18 hour days. Creating this inspiring book with my friend, model and philanthropist Tomiko Fraser helped me to realize that despite any obstacles I have come up against in my life, I will always rise above adversity. I will thrive.
A famous photographer told me when I was twenty one years old that I should not pursue a career in photography because "making it" is as difficult as becoming a famous actor. I was told that since I was not raised with a great deal of money and that my family couldn't support me while I paved my way throughout the thousands of talented photographers in Los Angeles, that I should choose a career with more certainty. I listened to this famed photographer in that I went back to school for my Master's Degree (but I never stopped taking pictures) and began working as a science teacher in East LA. I could not thank him more for pushing me in this direction because I learned that I am even more passionate about the rights of children to a safe place to learn and well rounded education than I am about pictures. I don't agree with the famous photographers push to a career that was not my area, but I'm grateful that the direction he sent me on ended up bringing me back to photography but in a way that made my work mea more. Using photography to teach students combines my goals....and now I take pictures that support youth in creating their dreams.
The second reason I created UNbound photography was because a student who I have worked with over his career at Animo Jackie Robinson High School in South Central Los Angeles. He was the Salutatorian of his graduating class, he created the Gay Straight Alliance at our school and nearly single handedly fundraised for our first Awareness Carnival,and he is my daughter's adopted uncle. Most importantly, he was accepted to the UC College of his choice and was unable to attend because he could not apply for federal or state loans or grants. He is now trying to find a second rate job and is not attending any college. This one young man is one of the most intelligent and creative people I have ever met. He should be in his freshman year at College, receiving federal and state loans and grants to support him, and instead he is not in school, he has moved to another city away from is family and friends, and is barely getting by.
I have heard too many similar stories and now I have lived this story by having someone close to me be oppressed by Federal and State law. My student was brought to California illegally as child. This was not his decision and yet his future is on hold, and his fate uncertain, for decisions not made by him and by laws which hurt him.
UNbound Photography teaches all youth who want to learn the skill of photography for enrichment or as a means to earn money. We raise funds to support undocumented students with their dreams of College.
This Fall, we are creating our first book entitled, "Our Beautiful Struggle" in which 100% of proceeds will go to grants for our recent alumni and current seniors who do not qualify for student loans because they do not have Social Security Cards. The proceeds will be used for buying books, supplies, and with enough support, paying for classes and dorms for these amazing students.