The Many Faces of Latinos on Eastern LI

One of the photos in the “Soy OLA” series. (Photo by Philippe Cheng via Sag Harbor Express)

In the black-and-white photo series, “Soy OLA” (I am OLA), photographer Philippe Cheng captures the diverse group of volunteers, clients, supporters and others who make up OLA (Organización Latino-Americana) of Eastern Long Island. No names or titles are attached to the more than 30 photos so that everyone is presented on an equal level – to show, as Cheng tells Christine Sampson of Sag Harbor Express, that “We are all part of the same community. We are one.”

He had reached out to Executive Director Minerva Perez to help give a new look to OLA’s website – and that meant new images. She wanted the site to have photos of people in the Latino community celebrating their culture and heritage and not just “show images around immigration or workers” but rather “the full conversation.” From there, Cheng proposed a portrait series.

She grabbed a tissue and dabbed at the corners of her eyes as she continued: “There are still so many negative images that are put out on social media and other places, and there are so many topics that are sad. This portrait series allows our local community to have these beautiful faces full of story, of pride, of beauty, to remember that this is our community. It’s not just some headline, but these are the faces of our community members and we are lucky to have these people among us – all of them.”

In this ongoing project, Cheng hopes to also include representation of faces that cannot be shown. What does he have in mind for that part of the project? Find out at Sag Harbor Express.

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