Big dipper, boxing and bikers in LA: Wembley to Soweto initiative 2022 – photo essay

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The Guardian

Over the last 12 years, an extraordinary grassroots movement has been working alongside global sporting events such as the football, cricket and rugby union World Cups, the English Premier League and the Olympic Games.

Young ethnically diverse people from developing and developed countries have transformed themselves into professional photographers to record these festivals of sport within the context of their own lives and communities.

These young people are often from backgrounds of abject poverty, bypassed by formal education, employment opportunities, shelter and basic nourishment.

The catalyst has been an initiative called the Wembley to Soweto Foundation which offers photography training and on-the-job learning and has fostered life skills that enable these young people to move forward with their lives and make a positive contribution to society. The global charity has sought to change the narrative of art accessibility, encouraging big dreams for creators of the future.

The foundation forms collaborative partnerships with artistic, sporting, and public institutions to allow for a broad range of vocational experiences as well as educational benefits for the wider community. It aims to create a global network of training opportunities for young people in order to nurture self-belief, ambition and confidence through a passion for photography – regardless of means and background.

High-ride – the Santa Monica rollercoaster at the top of its trajectory

Angela Xiquin

  • High-ride – the Santa Monica rollercoaster at the top of its trajectory (top); Designer Hood in da Hood – beautiful artwork bedecks a low-rider in Hope Park, Los Angeles (above); Someone to Watch Over Me – a security guard in front of a mural in Olvera Street, Little Mexico; Tattooed Trader – a T-shirt trader sets out her stall in San Pedro

Security guard and seller
Reflection – Santa Monica pier at sunset

Santos Gomez

Heaven street food

Heaven Enriquez

Queen of the Street – the ultimate hand accessories

Heidi Sandoval

  • Queen of the Street – the ultimate hand accessories; Body Shot – National Champion, Chris, works out at TG Boxing Gym, Los Angeles; Silver Rider – biker in the heart of El Pueblo de Los Angeles

Skateboarder and Catherine Wheel
Making Shapes – skateboarding in Echo Park, Los Angeles; Squeezing Out Sparks – Monster Catherine wheel at sunset on Venice Beach, Los Angeles
Rising above the rollercoaster – a helicopter soars into the sunset at Santa Monica pier

Angel Torres

A new arrival at Muscle Beach and working the chains at Venice Beach
Hollywood Walk of Fame – a busker hopes to be spotted on the avenue of the stars; Inked and Proud – three Homies keep a lookout in Westlake, East Los Angeles
Topsy Turvy – a young man swings above the palms, Santa Monica beach

Ava Yanez

  • Spread out – three friends chilling under the 6th Street Bridge; No pain, no gain – a man trains in TG Boxing Gym, South Central LA, as his son looks on

Reflecting on Things – a busker entertains the crowds

Erick Valasquez

Behind the Wheel – Interior of a 1950’s low-rider on Whittier Boulevard; Vested Interest – Chris at the start of Route 66; Head Shot – A credo is announced.
A Shilling for the Meter – floodlights go out at LA Galaxy v Vancouver, but the fans find a quick solution

George Rodriguez

Boxers
Seconds In – a quick gulp of water in between sparring rounds; Fan Club – a young boxer eyes his next sparring partner at TG Boxing Gym, The Sweat Box – a boxer stretches out before entering the ring; South Central; Shop Security – a store trader keeps a careful eye on her stock

Leica Camera donated camera equipment to the Wembley to Soweto Foundation which the cohort of eight students from South Central and East LA (pictured below) used during the project. Under the tutelage of the internationally renowned photographer Jillian Edelstein, and former students who passed on their knowledge, the cohort learned photography techniques in a variety of locations from the Getty Centre to LA Galaxy stadium, to the electric atmosphere of a downtown boxing gym, enabling them to capture images and depict stories from the LA landscape. At the end of the project the students had the opportunity to exhibit their work in Leica’s flagship store and gallery in Los Angeles where they were able discuss the program and inspirations behind their portfolios.

October 6, 2022 at 03:15PM Wembley to Soweto Foundation

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