SPRINGFIELD — A story for every photo. Photographer Ed Cohen, camera in hand, walked visitors to the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History through “Latinos en SPRINGFIELD, Pasado y Presente,” an exhibit of his photographs that celebrate Springfield’s Latino communities. Stopping at each framed image, Cohen shared memories of where he was when the photo was snapped and of the people behind the faces.

The exhibit, which translates to “Latinos in Springfield, Past and Present,” features images of the Puerto Rican and Dominican communities, both of which are large parts of the ethnic quilt that is Springfield. From festivals and parades to important local figures, Cohen has spent his career documenting the cultural, social, and political lives of Latinos in the area. A professional photographer since 1975, the Springfield resident’s work has been featured in The African American Point of View, The Republican and MassLive.

“Diversity is really the key thing. Documenting it. Things may not seem important, but I knew eventually they would be,” Cohen said of his photography.

Even in the midst of the exhibit, Cohen was focused on documenting more. When a museum visitor from Southwick who had a Brazilian background, mentioned a Brazilian festival, Cohen wrote down her email address so he could learn more and document the next one.

Cohen even took time to take a photo of state Sen. Adam Gomez (D-Springfield), his district director Mari Jackson, state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, Olympic wrestler Jon Viruet, and Springfield Museums President and CEO Kay Simpson before joining them for another photo.

“It brings me back,” Gomez said of the exhibit, which includes a photo of his father waving an enormous Puerto Rican flag. He spoke about his family’s history and how his grandfather had moved to Springfield from Puerto Rico in the latter half of the 20th century. “When groups first migrate to Springfield, they come through the North End,” Gomez said. Now, Puerto Rican residents, families and neighborhoods can be found all over the city.

“You’re reviving our history through your camera work,” Gonzalez told Cohen, adding, “Diversity is our strength.”

The exhibit, organized by the Mi Museo Committee of the Springfield Museums, opened in September 2023, and while it was originally planned to run until March, was recently extended until April 14. In the fall, Cohen expects to have a similar exhibit highlighting the Latino community in Holyoke.

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