Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dos Mundos:Mil Lentes Photo Project

Latinitas Selected As Beneficiary of Photo Exhibit

A tale of two cities - El Pasoan seeks 1,000 people to document border life
By Maribel Villalva / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 07/22/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

El Paso photographer Tim Holt has been documenting the El Paso/Juárez region for more than 24 years and he's always amazed by what catches his eye. "This is a really cool place in which we live and most of the time, we don't realize it," Holt said. "El Paso has become a lot more colorful over the years. It's a much happier place than when I was younger." Holt is inviting 1,000 photographers -- anyone with a digital camera -- to share his passion and participate in the upcoming photography project "Dos Mundos/Mil Lentes" ("Two Worlds/A Thousand Lenses"). Through "Dos Mundos," Holt hopes to create an hour-by-hour account of life in this vast borderplex. "By getting people to look at the city in a different way, through a camera lens, more people might see how exciting El Paso is," he said.

Holt also is the founder of two photography groups in El Paso: Photo Enthusiasts of El Paso (PEEP) and MegaPixels. It was through PEEP that Holt also organized the "Drive-By Shooting" photo contest that encouraged photographers of all levels to drive through the streets of El Paso and, using a disposable camera, take pictures of their surroundings. The popular photo contest lasted about eight years, but Holt recently decided that contest had run its course and decided to do something involving the sister cities of El Paso and Juárez.

The goal is an ambitions one: to recruit 1,000 photographers on both sides of the border to document life in El Paso and Juárez during one 24-hour period, starting at noon Aug. 9 and ending at noon Aug. 10. Photographers can be professionals as well as anyone with a digital point-and-shoot camera. The only requirement is that a digital camera be used, Holt said. Participants will be assigned one hour within the 24-hour period to ensure that the entire day is well-documented. Participants will then submit their 10 favorite images to Holt who will, in turn, select a final collection to exhibit in the region.

The exhibit also will be a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization Latinitas, an online magazine ( geared toward young girls and teenagers. The organization also will be granted permission to use the images from the exhibit for one year to try to raise additional money for Latinitas. Alicia Rascon, Latinitas co-founder and chief executive officer, said this photography project goes hand-in-hand with the mission of the online publication. "This is such a wonderful project because it really resonates with us. We're all about highlighting bicultural Latinas and living within two different cultures. This really matches our mission," Rascon said. Rascon said the organization will organize traveling exhibits in both El Paso and Juárez and will ask for a donation. Additionally, she plans to sell postcards featuring some of the images from the project with the proceeds all going toward media enrichment programs for young girls. "Thanks to this project, we'll be able to do more outreach and even offer photography workshops where young girls can create their own photography." There also will be a mini-contest for young Latinas, Rascon said. She's going to encourage these girls to take their own photos and some of the images will be submitted to the larger "Dos Mundos" project.

Holt said he'd still like to get 1,000 people to participate in the project. So far, only 50 have signed up. The fact that Juárez is currently experiencing murderous violence because of feuding drug cartels might have something to do with the low turnout so far, but Holt said he's also inviting Juarenses to participate and photograph the positive things about the city. "People are still living their lives over there. They're going to the store, going to church. Here's our chance to say, 'Here's the good side of life in Juárez,' " Holt said. "We want this project to highlight the good side of both El Paso and Juárez."

El Paso photographer Leland DeFord is helping Holt organize the event and said it's important to keep the images positive. "It would be very easy for me to go Downtown and photograph transients in alleys, but we want to show these cities in their best light and highlight everything that's good about this community." Holt said he's also seeing a renewed interest in photography and he credits the accessibility of digital cameras for that. "It's really exciting to see that photography resurgence," he said. "I'm seeing a lot of younger people getting involved, too." And for this project, Holt said, anyone can participate. In fact, over the years, he said some of the most amazing images he's seen have come from non-photographers. "Some of the coolest things I've seen have come from students and novices," he said.

Make plans What: "Dos Mundos/Mil Lentes,""a photography event to documented a 24-hour period in El Paso and Juárez. When: Starts at noon Aug. 9 and ends at noon Aug. 10. Where: El Paso and Juárez. How much: $5. Information:"E-mail Tim Holt at or visit the project's Web site at