Photo Essay: Religion in the Hood

Last week I wrote a piece about dusting off my old Pentax K-1000, loading it with black and white film, and rediscovering the joy of taking photos with film. Here are a few of the photos I took.

For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by the religious diversity in my neighborhood, so when I went out to shoot photos with my old camera, I decided to take pictures of interesting religious expressions near my home.

(Click on photos to see a larger image.)

Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church is almost directly across the street from my house. Folks in my community tend to spend extravagantly for QuinceƱeras–the fifteenth birthday of a young woman. No limo is too over the top.

My neighborhood is home to dozens of small Spanish-speaking Pentecostal churches. Most are poor and meet in dilapidated buildings.

Currently, my community is facing a growing gang problem. CityTeam is a ministry that is attempting to reach gang members. I have no idea if their efforts are successful, but their faux graffiti is impressive.

Though I live in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, there are several small Black churches near my home, including this tiny church, where I met and spoke to a deacon who was preparing the sanctuary for worship. You can see his hand opening the side door in this photo.

My neighborhood is changing. In the five years I’ve lived here two Buddhist temples have set up shop nearby. This photo is of a shrine at the Cambodian Buddhist temple two blocks behind my place.

Here the ancient Mexican cultural ability to befriend death meets the more contemporary “religion” of low-riding (the joke is in the lowered hearse’s license plate: “A STFRYD”–“A Stiff Ride”).

4 thoughts on “Photo Essay: Religion in the Hood

  1. Pingback: In Memory of a Camera at

  2. Wonderful. Your photos help me understand where you live. I’m so glad you live there and not, say, in an upper-class “hood.” I wish more of our people shared your sense of place and awe of diverse cultures. As alwasy, enjoy everything you send me šŸ™‚ You make my day(s).

  3. Your neighborhood looks like ours. The local Black Church however is Presbyterian. We have Sudanese and Ruwandan Churches and one Mega church that worships about 9,000 people each Sunday. We also have Iglesia Presbiteriana and a host of store front specials that have a difficult time getting the whole names of their congregations on the front the stores….i.e. Mt. Zion Christian Temple of the King Congregation.

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