Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Gabriela Felix, 12th grade. "I took this photograph one day after school. I came home to my sister who was lying down in bed and just as I put my bag down, I visualized the photograph. She looked so tired and exhausted as she was laying down texting after a long day of work and school. I think this can relate to so many people and especially students who go to school or go to work. All they want to do is set their things down and rest! This photograph was originally with color but once I took another look at it, I realized it would be more interesting if it were black and white. The windows were open, which gave a lot of lighting and shows more texture and detail in the picture. Any other message is hidden within the photograph and it's up to the viewer's perspective."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gabriela Felix

Jacqueline Slayton, 11th grade. "For my Self-Portrait I chose to zoom in on my face and show a peace sign in my mouth. I did this to show that when looking at someone you are never sure what characteristics they have. You have to take a step forward and make an attempt and see the true colors. For me, although I come off as being strong and bold, I am a peaceful person. That is why the peace sign is located in my mouth, to show all I want is peace. With the help of Oscar Gonzales, I was able to create this creative self-portrait."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jacqueline Slayton

Alejandra Salas, 11th grade. Vulnerable, "This picture was made for an assignment about the social issue of rape. It communicates a feeling of being hurt, alone and vulnerable. The blood and torn clothes of the Barbie communicate this feeling. Also, she is like in an abandoned wood area, all alone with nobody to help. The picture is dull, close to being colorless to represent the darkness she feels inside. The patterns of the background help with the feeling of being hurt."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Alejandra Salas

Antonio Gonzalez, 11th grade. La Mano, "This photograph represents a hand. A hand symbolizes many things in both religion and legends. Psychics can see your future by the lines in the palm of your hand. Whether it is an old, wrinkled hand or a young infant hand, the hand is the key to your actions. The feeling this photograph communicates is that the hand is a powerful object powered by you, yourself. I turned this photograph black and white, with a blurry background, to call more attention to the hand."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Antonio Gonzalez

Aracely Soto, 12th grade. Life Is Fragile, "This photograph expresses the feelings of caring and sympathy. When you focus on the poor baby who looks so cold and lonely you get this very sad heart breaking feeling. It makes you want to care for this child. But then you see the hands and the form of the hands really says a lot. It shows you how fragile this baby is. It shows how careful you have to be with children. The idea of this photograph is not just about babies. It is about showing care to life. We must appreciate life and see how fragile it is."


Beatriz Figueroa, 12th grade. "I made this photo to represent the way the media makes people see themselves. Society has set this idea that to be beautiful, one must be thin or have curves on the 'right places.' This idea makes people who do not attain these standards feel inadequate. 'Someone's opinion of you does not have to become your reality,' said Les Brown, author of "Live Your Dreams." The photo communicates the quote because the girl on this image looks displeased with herself, as in, demonstrating dissatisfaction with her own body. Where else could she have gotten the idea that she is not beautiful?"

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beatriz Figueroa

Antonio Gonzalez, 11th grade. "This photograph was taken in the heart of East Los Angeles. To me, this man represents a person working by force, and the screen is keeping him from being social to the world. The watch he is wearing makes it seem like he is counting time often, and he looks rather miserable and tired. The wonder of what he is writing in the little notepad makes you anxious to take a peek at it. The reflection of a face at the bottom left of the picture makes me think if that person is related to this man, or only a customer. There is a contrast between the man's face and the reflection's face, as they show opposite feelings. One face looks happy and free, and the other looks tired and depressed. It's as if his past is in a reflection, and he is now miserable."

Brandon Martinez, 12th grade. "I believe this shows the element of light at the moment my little brother was trying to open the mailbox. I was struck by the surroundings of my brother. It was taken in a perfect spot like a spotlight was coming out of the sky. The clouds appear with a hint of light. The nighttime lighting effects help to make this a unique picture. Then I thought to myself, I have to share this picture. I'm hoping it will help people realize that they can also see their world in a different way. You just have to open your eyes."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brandon Martinez

Abdi Delgado, 11th grade. "The feeling this portrait photo communicates is the personality of the girl that's in the photo. The idea is that she communicates her personality through her favorite thing to do which is the design of her nails. The way it is shown is by putting her hands on her cheeks to show emphasis on her nails. The details are her fingers spreading out on her cheeks. Color is also very important as the bright red and pink colors of her dress make a strong contrast to the colors of the greenery behind her."


Cat Franco, 11th grade. "I have had in the past only 2 years of still life art. I also taught myself how to play an instrument, the violin. I have always been an artistic person since birth. I have found myself always amongst pens and paints. I wish to work one day in digital media, elaborating digital art such as Manga, comics, paint and photography. Anything I can create and imagine I wish to share. I would very much adore having doors opened so I can thrive! I am creative. I see the most uncommon things in the most simple items. I didn't have to go out to get some great ideas. There is so much to see in the most rare places. I felt it in my heart to snap the photo and the ambience and everything just simply collides. There is my process: I see the beauty in anything."


Efren Eguren, 12th grade. "The best photo I ever made was this picture of a dog walking along the sidewalk in East L.A. The reason I like this photo is because of the way the dog's direction matches exactly the direction of the sidewalk and the street. It makes me think of a journey, beyond that of a regular dog walking down the street. I stooped down to take the photograph at the same eye level as the dog, helping to tell his story. It makes me think of a dog -- or anybody -- on a mission."


Eric Carrillo, 12th grade. Bridge of Despair, "This photo conveys this sense of loneliness. To give it a feeling of unity of color and composition, I converted it to black and white color. I also added a special tilt shift focus to help emphasize the people on the bridge; more specifically, I wanted to highlight the boy on the left because the bridge and building lines lead to him."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Eric Carrillo

Oscar Cruz, 11th grade. Poverty, "Whether it is through photography, depressed kids, or a ghetto location, poverty should be experienced once in life in order to know what dangers a person with no money has to endure. In this photography shoot I tried to show the emotion of a young child living in poverty. His facial expression and surroundings say it all. I used the technique of making an environmental portrait, telling a story about my subject by showing the details of his environment. The black and white effect helps to get my point across and makes it more serious. I was careful to move my main subject a bit to the right side and frame him in the dark doorway. This contrast makes the photo stand out a bit as well as telling a story and exploding the idea to the vision and mind."


Frida Sanchez, 11th grade. Drugs Do Not Make You Pretty, "The photograph taken symbolizes many things; it communicates with drug users who tend to hide their addiction. It also shows that doing drugs does not make you pretty; trying to hide it could work only for so long before all hell breaks loose. Before going in deep to what the photograph means, you first notice the girl and the brush, and then you pay attention to the small details of blood coming out of the nose and the eyes down and that is when you actually pay attention to the photo. The picture is in black and white to give the designs of the bed an interesting look. It shows the pretty part of the picture but you actually have to pay attention and realize that it does not matter if you are surrounded by pretty things, if you are corrupted by bad things."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Frida Sanchez

Eric Carrillo, 12th grade. Spotlight, "When this photograph was selected by the judges, I became a semifinalist in the Music Center Spotlight competition last year and part of an exhibition at the Plaza de la Raza Gallery. I took the photo right across the street from our Torres campus. In Adobe Photoshop, I darkened and increased its saturation to give it a stencil look. This helps to combine both photography and street art. Thus, giving the viewer two different perspectives of L.A-based art."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Eric Carrillo

Sonia Torres, 9th grade. Carefree, "In this photo both of my peers are dancing in the subway...Both of my peers are just dancing; they don't care what people will say, they just do what makes them happy. The way the elements and principle of design support the meaning of this photo is in the use of pattern, line and color. Although there is a lot of color and pattern in the photo, the dancers stand out because of the bright red in the exact center of the photo. Also, their dramatic, lively pose contrasts to the boredom of all the passengers."


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More than 100 portraits of Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology (HAAT) students and their photographs will be featured on a 1,000-foot-long fence covering the construction of the Huntington Library’s Education and Visitor Center. HAAT is in East Los Angeles and is a public high school with an educational methodology emphasizing connections between history, English, arts and sciences. The students’ artwork will be unveiled Tuesday at an event marking the culmination of the collaboration. The work will be on display through early 2015, when construction of the new Education and Visitor Center is expected to be complete. The students all work with HAAT media arts teacher Joan Dooley, who agreed to discuss her methods of teaching photography with Times photographer Gary Friedman.

Before coming to HAAT two years ago, Dooley taught photography for 15 years at Fairfax High School, Bell High School and Ramon Cortines High School.  She became interested in photography in college at Worcester State University in Worcester, Mass., and later obtained a master’s degree in art history at University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She worked at the J. Paul Getty Museum from 1984-96 as assistant curator of photographs. In addition to photography, Dooley teaches graphic design and animation.


Joan Dooley. Photograph by Benito Rojas

The gallery of work above is by Dooley’s first- and second-year students. All of the photographs were entered into either the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest or the Music Center Spotlight Contest.

Q: What kind of photographs did you initially begin taking?

A: I was taught by people who were basically landscape photographers from the Ansel Adams school of photography but I quickly learned that my photography was about people and the human condition, and I think of myself primarily as a street photographer but with a fine art sensibility.  The people who inspired me the most would be the great Diane Arbus, Helen Levitt and Robert Frank, Henri Cartier Bresson and Gary Winogrand.

Q: What style of photography do you enjoy most?

A: The style I enjoy most is documentary because it is authentic and true to life and to me represents the power of photography.

Q: What style of photography do your students enjoy?

A: The students mostly enjoy real-life documentary street photography, but they are teenagers and they love to take pictures of each other so fashion and portrait photography are very popular.

Q: There is a lot of personal feeling in the student photos. How do you get the students to pour so much emotion and feeling in their photographs?

A: Key to my job as an art teacher is teaching my students how to communicate feelings and ideas in their art whether it’s photography or any other media. I ask the students to dig deep and write and prepare and think before they photograph.  I also use a lot of master photography as inspiration.

Q: Photography can be so deeply personal: How much is the student photography a reflection of their own backgrounds, home life and their lives in general?

A: I’m hoping the students’ photographs greatly reflect their lives. That’s what I strive for. During this time in their life there is a great need to make sense out of their lives and also to get their head straight and to me this is the mission with my class. The great role of art in K-12 education is to help serve this urgent need that teenagers have to make sense out of their lives.

Q: What motivates the students?

A: Every day my job is to motivate them. They are visual thinkers.  What motivates them is exciting images and images that speak to them. They like pictures that communicate stories and feelings and pictures that are composed really well with a strong sense of design.

Q: What motivates you?

A: The kids. The total turnarounds and transformations in lives that I’ve seen. Students who were motivated by gangs and gave it up and turned their lives around by finding a voice in their art and photography. Just making their lives better knowing that they are becoming better human beings because they have a new way to express themselves and learn and discover about their world.

Q: How do you inspire the kids?

A: I inspire them by crafting my own custom-made photography lessons that I think will spark a fire.  For example, to teach shutter speeds, I’ll construct a lesson on light writing.

Q: What do you hope to see from the students down the road?

A: I hope they will always keep alive their love of photography and even if they don’t go on professionally in the arts that they will have an appreciation for the arts and how it can improve our lives.

Q: On your computer there is a quote, “Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.” Why is it there?

A: This quote embodies not just a motto for our school but my philosophy of art education. To me, the best art is created when you dig deep and you feel, you think and then you put those feelings and thoughts into your craft.  What I don’t want to teach is for someone to make a technically excellent photograph that is empty of feeling and thought.


  1. May 14, 2013, 11:19 pm

    He Gonzalez family would like to congratulate all of the student but especially Antonio Gonzalez. We are so proud of you, never give up on you’re dreams and always give 100% on everything you do. We will always be here to support you in everything you do…we love you so much and keep up the good work =)

    By: Marissa Gonzalez
  2. May 15, 2013, 8:04 am

    The Gonzalez Family would like to congratulate all of the students, but especially Antonio Gonzalez. We are so proud of you, never give up on your dreams and always give 100% on everything you do. We Will always be here to support you no matter what. We love you so much and keep up the good work. =)

    By: Marissa Gonzalez
  3. May 15, 2013, 7:48 pm

    Joan is a visionary, I have worked with her on projects such as the East LA Arts Festival, and she is so engaging with the children. She really has a sense of what the kids need to trust themselves. The children are able through her guidance to find their perspective and voice through photography. Visit HAAT and see the magic the children are creating.

    By: maurma
  4. May 16, 2013, 12:45 am

    Bravo to a dedicated teacher who loves teaching. Creativity is the key to expanding everything even the way we live our lives. Ms. Dooley is teaching our kids how to see, communicate and understand themselves. Her students' inspired work is a testament to her gifted teaching.

    By: mankamnaka
  5. May 16, 2013, 8:29 pm

    Beautiful and profound. Wow Joan. Thank you.

    By: Fell
  6. May 27, 2013, 6:50 pm

    What great work! An Inspiring teacher invites brilliant work!

    By: lculp
  7. May 29, 2013, 1:52 pm

    Joan Dooley is an inspiring teacher and I've had the pleasure of working with her in the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP) programs at Bell High School and at Ramon Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts. Congratulations to Joan and to all the HAAT photography students!

  8. August 17, 2013, 6:49 pm

    Joan is one of those rare person who has the ability to make great things happen . I cannot thank her enough for her generosity and inspiration . She is very special !

    By: Joe Medina

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