Louis Jacinto was born on November 13, 1955 in Bakersfield, California. His father was a railroad worker and his mother stayed home to raise the children. Louis was raised in a Mexican Roman Catholic household. Although Bakersfield was a rural town, Louis never felt isolated — his family would often travel by train, and his parents subscribed to the photojournalistic Look magazine, where Louis would flip through pictures of the wider world.
At age 17, Louis came out as gay to a cousin. The cousin was accepting but warned him not to come out to his parents. Louis took photography classes at his local college in Bakersfield, then transferred to Cal State Los Angeles. Throughout college, he was involved in the United Farm Workers. When he joined the Gay Student Union in Los Angeles, he was criticized by his peers for being involved in both groups at once. Unfazed, Louis knew his life was not meant to be so narrow: he wanted to join many circles, from local art to community organizing. Graduating with a degree in sociology, Louis became inspired to capture the world around him through photography.
Louis focused his first body of work on the 1970s LA punk rock scene, determined to capture the diversity and acceptance in the circle. As a gay Latinx man, he experienced discrimination for his ethnicity in the gay community, but felt thoroughly welcomed in the punk rock scene. In the 1980s, he focused his work on the Echo Park and Silver Lake neighborhoods. He captured pride parades, shot covers for the LA-based gay magazine Frontiers, and was the official photographer for the Sunset Junction Street Fair. He also got involved with community organizing via Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos.
In 2005, Louis submitted old punk rock photos to a gallery, which led to his inclusion in museum exhibits around the country. He then created a photo collection of an imaginary Frida Kahlo visit to Los Angeles, exploring the storytelling aspect of photography. He also explored photography as social commentary, including a black and white photo of a “Jesus saves” sign with the text backwards and the sign posts edited out so that the text appeared to be floating midair — commenting on the misrepresentation of Jesus’s messages by the Republican party.
In 2011, Louis started the Onodream Magazine, in which each issue highlights an individual artist. He’s featured artists such as Linda Smith and Linda Vallejo, and continues to seek out new artists to spotlight. Over the COVID-19 pandemic, Louis photographed people in masks, then edited out the top parts of their heads. He also launched an online gallery exclusively showcasing other artists’ work.
Louis has since donated photos to the Los Angeles Library so that his work will remain publicly accessible even after his lifetime. In his interview, he generously offered to be personally reachable through his personal website and online gallery, welcoming listeners to connect with him there.