Leaving the Life: Portraits of Former Gang Members

Adam Amengual
Adam Amengual
Robert Trejo
"People join the gangs because of love. We didn’t have the love. We didn’t have love from our families. We didn’t have love from our mothers, our fathers or anybody. It covers that hole, that love that you be searching for.”

The people I’ve photographed in this series are all former gang members—many of whom spent time incarcerated—before walking through the doors of Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention organization in Los Angeles. It’s a place takes people in and sees the potential in them, when many others do not. In shooting and showing this project, I hope I can help everyone can see the subjects as humans trying to better themselves.

The style in which I’ve photographed them will draw comparisons to a mug shot. Almost all of these people have been arrested and had a mug shot taken. I’ve flipped that idea and made a more beautiful version of an ugly picture from their past. Just like what the subjects themselves are trying to do with their own lives.

Adam Amengual is a Los Angeles-based portrait photographer. For more information on Homeboy Industries click here.

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