Telling an HOLA Story with Photos


If you are a long-time supporter or return visitor to the HOLA web page, you will notice a new set of images gracing our site and materials.  They are the product of countless hours of volunteer service from photographer Aaron Rapoport, and HOLA is deeply grateful to him for sharing his gift with us.   

From Photographer Aaron Rapoport:

Being a professional photographer for 40 years, I am always on the lookout for a great visual story to tell.  I approached YOLA at HOLA because of my experience shooting for schools, and because music and musicians has long been one of my favorite subjects. Thankfully HOLA agreed, and as soon as I arrived I knew that I had hit the visual jackpot.

As I spent time watching, listening, and shooting the students and programs, I noticed a confidence and purpose-a sense that anything was possible with a little coaching and work. Here was fertile soil and willing hearts--kids who would repay a little guidance and caring with excellence and achievement equal to any affluent area or institution.

Equally thrilling as I continued my series was observing the commitment and patience of the teachers, counselors and the staff. I watched and photographed students counseling students! A simple and beautiful equation completing the circle and ensuring the continuation of the process of giving that was so inspiring.

After moving onto shooting at HOLA, seeing not just the music programs but the full range of programs and age groups--all tied together by the same care and commitment-my photo series blossomed took a fuller and deeper form. I will never forget the faces and spirit of all the people that make this an unbelievable place.

Hopefully reflected in my series of photos is my love for not just my native Los Angeles, but also for this neighborhood in which I too was a resident and whose colors and faces have always been a visual and personal inspiration to me. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else and hope my work for HOLA continues.

From Chief Development Officer Brooke Lykins:

Last year, HOLA CEO Tony Brown wrote a piece for our blog in which he articulated our organization’s belief that “the youth we serve are among the brightest hopes for our nation’s future, not in spite of the myriad challenges they face, but because of them.  Their experiences growing up in under resourced neighborhoods “create people of exceptional character, deep compassion, and a dynamic worldview.”

Every day I could see the truth of this statement as I interacted with the HOLA community, and I wanted so badly to see that story told fully in the images we were using in our organizational communications.

We have been lucky to be able to highlight moments of that story in the past.  Our special events and athletics activities are brought to vivid and exciting life—and have been for many years—through the generosity of long-time board member and NBA hall-of-fame photographer Andrew Bernstein.  To have these two legendary photographers honoring the HOLA community with their talents is extraordinary! And last year’s website redesign was made possible through DE FÉ’s graphic design, creative direction, photography, and editing talents.  We’re also proud to feature student and staff photos in our organizational communications whenever we can.

Now, on the eve of HOLA’s 30th Anniversary, it is thrilling to have a comprehensive set of images that tell a cohesive story about the full scope and spirit of this organization that touches so many lives.

“The youth we serve are among the brightest hopes for our nation’s future…”

These pictures are absolutely bursting with the talents and potential of the HOLA kids and families.  Whether the image shows community members working carefully, enjoying a new discovery, or gazing steadily into the camera with their hope in their heart, the possibilities communicated here for what our youth can accomplish are astounding.  

This belief in the assets and strength of our community members guides every part of HOLA’s programs and operations, and Aaron’s gentleness, compassion, and sense of fun as he worked with our kids and parents brought out those qualities in these images to stunning effect.

“…not in spite of the myriad challenges they face, but because of them.”

I also love that these photos do not mask some realities of the community in which we’re working.  These are not images you will find on the website of an elite private school, and Aaron has not shied away from showing some of our humble classrooms, aging buildings, complicated sidewalks, or busy parks.  After all, these are symbolic of the reason HOLA exists--every child does not yet have the resources they need to reach their full potential--and that shouldn’t be glossed over.

Yet importantly, Aaron has found beauty in our environment too—an overgrown bougainvillea or the pretty glow of colored construction paper shading a window.  So often, photos of neighborhoods in need are gritty and harsh, which can otherize those places and the individuals in them who are struggling. What Aaron has done is elevate the color, spirit and humanity in these photos, which fosters empathy and connects supporters to our cause--an essential goal of any charity’s organizational communications.

HOLA would like to acknowledge all of the students, family members, staff and volunteers who agreed to serve as subjects for these images.  You glow with heart. And your generosity is deeply appreciated.

HOLA also cannot thank Aaron Rapoport enough for sharing his remarkable gifts with us.  Thank you for your time, and thank you for listening. The story these images tell is one that we are all so proud to be a part of, and we’re so thrilled that you have joined our community.