Martin Herrera Soler – My life as a documentary and assignment photographer in Uruguay, South America. Sun, 14 Sep 2014 14:58:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 La interna blanca la gana Larrañaga… Thu, 29 May 2014 02:18:29 +0000 20140528-L1002005-VE

Foto: Carvallo.  Proveedor de leña y politologo.  By: Martin Herrera Soler. 


Esto es una segura!  Me lo dijo Carvallo.  Además de mi proveedor de leña, el caballero es un acérrimo partidario del candidato blanco.  Al comentarle que las encuestas daban la interna de los blancos técnicamente empatada me dijo… ‘no saben nada estos que hacen las encuestas.  A mi nadie me llamó’.  Además generosamente me compartió un tip que aún debo probar.  ‘Los que si me llamaron son los de la tarjeta OCA.  Yo les digo – mirá que estoy en el ‘clerin’ y enseguidita cortan nomá’.  Ya veremos el Domingo que tan acertadas son las predicciones de Carvallo.

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My work in Lens Culture. Sun, 09 Mar 2014 14:53:36 +0000 A few weeks ago I got an email from the Editor of Lens Culture inviting me to publish my work on their invitation-only site.  Today I was notified that the work was selected it as an Editor’s Pick on LensCulture (  I’ve been a long time reader of Lens Culture and it’s a great source of inspiration and  cutting edge photographic work.  I’m thrilled that my work has been selected.  My deepest gratitude to Jim Casper and the Editorial Team at Lens Culture.  m.

Lens Culture Editor's Pick 2

Lens Culture - Peñarol work selected and published 2

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Monochrom Diaries. Episode 3. Sun, 01 Dec 2013 19:03:32 +0000 I had several very interesting email exchanges as a consequence of my prior Monochrom Diaries posts.  I continue to learn and explore the subject.  I recently submitted images F-STOP Issue 62 –  Black and White Photography.  I submitted 8 images.  A couple of my images where selected.  It always is interesting to see which ones other lean towards when editing for a group show.  I leave you with these images.  Thanks for dropping by.  m.

A room with a view

Photo: View of Central Park from the terrace of the MET – Metropolitan Museum.  Manhattan, New York, USA.  Photographer: Martin Herrera. 


Photo: Washington DC Subway.  Photographer: Martin Herrera.  

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Monochrom Diaries. Episode 2. Thu, 21 Nov 2013 17:00:54 +0000 In discovering my preferences for black and white photography I have reviewed a lot of work online and on classic photographic books.  If I were to pinpoint the work that first got me thinking about putting color aside (at least for a while), that would most definitely be the work of Jacob Aue Sobol. There has been plenty of other monochrome work that I’ve seen before and that I like, but somehow his reportage for the Leica MM (Arrivals and Departures) sparked something inside and really got me considering this alternative (and this camera as well).  As much as I connect with and like shooting in color, few things come close to a powerful and striking black and white image.

So since I started shooting in monochrome I’ve hanged from this illusion.  That with time, I might too create one of those images.  And if I do create at least one of ‘those kind of images’ that really does it for me, then this adventure is worth it.

In looking at all this work that I used to build my understanding of what kind of monochrome imagery does work for me, all my scientific abilities sprung forward.  I analyzed, categorized and found common elements across a broad range of images from very diverse genres.  Ultimately the answer for me was in the histogram.  All images that I liked shared one or two very distinct tonality distributions.  In hindsight it’s quite obvious, but this graphical representation of tones was what hit home for me.  Yet, one thing is knowing what I like and a whole other creating such images.

Birthday girl...

Photo: Birthday Girl.  Photographer: Martin Herrera Soler.  


Party Girl Histogram

Histogram of ‘Birthday Girl’ image.  This image, although shot with a Leica M9 and later converted to black and white, stands among few as a reference of black and white images I have shot and liked.  In this case, the histogram will reveal a ‘U’ shaped tonality distribution, with very dark blacks and very bright whites.  This distribution seems to be behind most of the monochrome images I care for.



For two Crackers Histogram

Histogram of ‘For two crackers’ image.  This other shape describes the tonal distribution of the image below.  It’s another color covered image, in this case shot with a Leica M8.  A similar scenario, but without the very dark tones.  Although generally speaking not my preference, this image still works for my monochrome taste.



Por dos galletas (for two crackers) 3 of 3.

Photo: Por dos galletas | for two crackers.  Photographer: Martin Herrera Soler

These are some of the characteristics of the images I like.  There are other specific attributes that work for me in (beyond the formals aspects like content, composition, etc.).  For example I’ve also learned that I like skin tones leaning towards the bright side, and the context leaning towards the dark tones.  In a future episode I will share some other images I have made in my black and white journey.  Thanks for dropping by.  m.


The prior episode can be found here [Monochrom Diaries.  Episode 1].


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Monochrom Diaries. Episode 1. Thu, 07 Nov 2013 01:08:06 +0000 Shapeless

Photo: Shapeless.  Museum structure in Seattle, Washington, USA by Martin Herrera Soler

As I mentioned on my prior post, this new found relationship with the medium, as an amateur  photographer has been quite fulfilling.  I miss the intense sole dedication sometimes, but I have also learned that at least for me, I am not ready to have all my time fully dedicated to being creative.  I get stuck.  I feel an urge to produce and ‘show results’, and my patterns and learned behaviors that are so effective in my corporate life, pull me back in the creative space.  So now I get to ‘come back’ to photography.  To be a place that rescues me from the intensity of work, and our love affair is as strong as ever.

A natural consequence of my new relationship with photography has been my commitment to explore the world in shades of gray.  Never before in my short photographic life had I really shot in black and white.  I have, quite unsuccessfully I should say, converted some images to monochrome in the past.   But now is different.  I sold all my SLR gear and exchanged it for a Leica M Monochrom (MM).  This camera’s ‘limitation’ to only register the world in black and white, has forced me to commit to the images and make I not resort back to going for color when I get back home and process the images.

Different from most of what I read before I made the purchase, and believe me it was a lot, for me it has not been so tough to learn to expose and not blow the highlights (a peculiarity of a camera that only registers one channel of luminosity versus the typical three channels – RBG – of a color camera).  What has been truly difficult has been to ‘learn to see in monochrome’.   From knowing how colors will respond to figuring out what I really like in a black and white image.  As I started to shoot, I realized that although I loved some of the black and white worked that I encountered on my photographic book explorations, I could not quite pin point what about them was that moved me.

So I started a disciplined process of searching for work, and what ever I found of interest, I would save a reference of it for further study.  After a while it became clear to me that I am attracted to images that have a very high contrast, with very bright whites and very dark blacks.  I continue to search and more recently experiment with my worn creations.  Much has happened in this six months since I started to shoot with the Leica MM.  Beyond learning that my ‘keepers’ ratio is even lower than it was before, I have also grown a deep interest in learning how to print.  This unexpected interest has led me to the exploration of printing Platinum and Palladium from images created in the Monochrom.

I’ll report more on this soon, as I share more about the Monochrom Diaries.  I leave you with a recent image, one of the few I made in six month that I actually like.  I was fortunate also be able to print this in Platinum, in what was my first experience printing analogue from a digital negative… but more on this later.

Thanks for dropping by.  m.



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On being a photographer… 2 Sun, 28 Jul 2013 20:59:56 +0000 Koudelka

Joseph Koudelka at Look3 2013 Festival of the Photograph by Martin Herrera Soler.  Part of my new ongoing photographic education. 


During 2011 I gave professional photography a serious and committed try.  For a full year I did not work on anything corporate and approached my work life fully from the perspective of creating projects and generating income in the world of photography.  The results were mixed.

On one hand, the single focus for such a long period of time drastically moved my photography forward many folds.  Diego and I created Dokumental, a multimedia collective.  I created what I consider to be my most significant documentary project, 364plus1, and collectively authored Journal of a Portrait, which was the opening exhibit for the CDF Fotograma Uruguay Photography Biennial.  As if that was not enough, images from the Peñarol project we did with Diego Vidart got published in LFI – Leica Fotographie International.  By all accounts and measures, it was a very successful year.

On the other hand, I invested a lot of money and time.  Most of my savings were gone from a year of spending and not producing.  We approached and pursued many great ideas, which all took much longer than expected to manifest, and were far from providing the kind of income I needed to make a living.  In 2012 I was fortunate to land a significant consulting project, and although I toyed with the idea of continuing to make a living in the photography world, without much thought I ended a year where most of my focus was in the corporate world.  This, which would be seen as a ‘bad thing’, was actually a blessing, not only for my personal finances, but for my photography as well.

When 2013 came around, and as I approached my regular yearly planning cycle (I know… there are some ‘habits’ that no photography in the world will take away from me) I made a conscious choice to let go of the idea of being a ‘pro’ photographer, and to relate to it purely as an amateur – for the love for it.  Six months into the year, I can report that I am very happy with the choice I made.  Liberating myself from having to ‘make money’ through photography has allowed me to re-connect and re-energyze my relationship with the craft.  Many good things have sprung from this decision that I doubt would otherwise had happened.

First of all, I continue to produce.  Through Dokumental and working with the Brazilian collective Garapa, we started to produce a short documentary on the border of Brazil and Uruguay.  We drove for 21 days straight the 1018 Kms that make up the limit between these two countries.  We are starting to edit the movie and soon enough we’ll focus on the book and exhibit.  Perhaps the most important change that came about from my decision to relax my expectations as a photographer, was the understanding that my greatest growth opportunity as a creative was not through shooting more, but rather going back to basics.  To view, study and connect with classic and up and coming photographic work.  I started my photographic book collection, attended photographic festivals and researched more projects than I can count.  I’m reading about the history of the medium and thoroughly enjoying the craft of printing, digital as well as some old, very traditional analogue techniques.

So as I move forward in this journey, you might find me taking a slightly different approach with the blog.  I might be sharing more on this growth journey as a photographer.  And as a by product, I’ll share some of the photographic jewels I find along the way.  I find tremendous inspiration in viewing, studying and collecting some of the documentary work I find along the way.  And I intend to share some of that with you.  Until the next time… m.