Day of the Dead procession, 2015. Photo Manuel Orbegozo

For the third consecutive year, El Tecolote is proud to present its annual “Latino/a Life in the Bay” photo exhibition featuring the best work produced by the newspaper’s volunteer photographers. The exhibition serves as a unique platform for highlighting photojournalism as it reflects the diversity of life experienced by Latinos in the Bay Area.

The exhibition, which debuts March 12, 2016 in the Juan R. Fuentes Gallery, is curated by El Tecolote’s own photo editor, Mabel Jimenez. We sat down with Mabel to find out what to expect from this year’s exhibition.

What are some of the prominent themes covered in the upcoming exhibition?
The general theme is reflecting the diversity of life for Latinos in the Bay Area, the diversity of our communities. And within that it’s all from a photojournalistic perspective. There’s some political, there’s some artistic, there’s some portraits, there’s a little bit of everything.

How is this particular photo exhibition unique?
To my knowledge I don’t think there’s a dedicated photojournalistic event covering Latino life.
For a number of our photographers it’s their first time that they’re going to have their photos in a show, that’s the first time that maybe they’ll sell a piece. It’s a big way of saying thanks to them and giving them their own moment. I feel there’s a special distinction to make with our volunteer photographers because they don’t have to be here—we don’t pay them to be here. The result of that is that we get people that are not only talented in photography but we get people who really care about the community.

Mabel Jiménez, curator of Acción Latina’s upcoming photo exhibit, Latino/a Life in the Bay. Photo Dominic Efferson

Can you describe your selection process in choosing the best photographs?
Well of course the first criteria is that the photos be beautiful but we also want to make sure that all of our photographers that have been putting in all this work in the last year are represented. I want to make sure that every photographer has a space. We want to sort of take that space, take that moment and take a step back and show that photographs are not just a decoration, or to put next to someone’s text. Photos are their own stories, they are their own stand-alone product. We want to see them on their own, in big print, glossy paper, framed, and given that attention and shine that they deserve.

What do you hope visitors take away from this exhibit?
When you see the photos, when you see how close some of our photographers get to the action, when you see the moments of extreme emotion that they capture, you realize how careful [they] have to be every time they approach a situation. A lot of these photographers are putting their health and their safety on the line to get us photos that are going to make you want to pick up the paper. So that’s what I really want people to see. That it takes a certain level of commitment, of passion, and bravery to really do this work the way that it should be done.

The 3rd Annual “Latino/a Life in the Bay” photo exhibition will hold its opening reception at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 12 at the Juan R. Fuentes Gallery, 2958 24th St., San Francisco.