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Martin Herrera Soler says that while photographing, some places "spoke" to him. His Nómade series was not only a search for extraordinary motifs, but also for personal space and his own identity during a phase of transition.

LFI: What does the title of your series mean?
Martin Herrera Soler: Nómade relates both, to a personal experience and to the creative process I chose for this project. I was born in Venezuela. I have lived in Caracas, Montevideo, Santiago, Miami and Los Angeles. I have three nationalities, and yet I never fully identified with any of them. This project was a journey to create a space where I could truly feel ‘at home’. The approach to this project was also nomadic. It was all about walking. I would transport myself to a random location and drift for hours at a time. In doing so, I used a GPS to record my whereabouts, resulting in beautiful traces – interventions of the physical world – that pieced the captured city fragments together, to create a singular space. My space. One where I truly belong.

It seems you show less beautiful things, and more hidden, crumbling ones. Why is that?
I believe beauty is a subjective and contextual matter. What I photograph then, is what I found beautiful at the time. Possibly if I were to do this project again, at a different moment and with a different state of mind, I would seek different things. That being said, I do acknowledge that what moved and intrigued me for this project, was not what most people would consider ‘beautiful’. There is a certain ‘wear and tear’ quality to the spaces I chose. In fact, many seem to be in transition, either being built or torn down. I had not considered this before, but maybe the images I made and selected, closely resemble my own transition at the time I started working on this project. After years trying, I had recently become a dad. Fatherhood moved me deeply and invited me to reflect on who I was and the relationship with my own parents; and it challenged me to consider who I wanted to become for this new beautiful creature in my life. Maybe what I photographed then was a reflection of the not so ‘beautiful’ and unresolved aspect of myself.

Your images are without people, and yet they represent things created by men…
The images I made for Nómade are deserted. They lack people and, for the most part, any kind of reference to inhabited places. There are no cars, and almost no signs or any kind of urban visual cues that would single out a place. This was a conscious and important choice for the project. I purposely looked for places that could become anonymous and operate like building blocks for this ‘personal city’ that I longed to create. As a child, my favourite toy was Lego, and each image in this project is, to a certain extend, a carefully selected piece, used to create something bigger.

You’ve worked with a Leica SL, what makes this camera special in respect to architectural photography?
I love the SL. I use it mostly like an M camera. I only have M lenses, and after the initial setup, I have never accessed the menu again. I have a few shortcuts for ISO selection and that is pretty much it. For this project, the SL and the 50mm Lux M lens was a very graceful combination. I really loved the possibility pre-visualizing the image composition more accurately in its gorgeous viewfinder. I chose to photograph the project in 6x7 aspect ratio, and I quickly learned where the crop would fit in the viewfinder; and that allowed me a cleaner composition than what I was able to get with the rangefinder.

What does it mean for you to be "nomadic"?
It was a fantasy I had for a long time. Before choosing to have a child, I played in my mind with the idea of reducing my stuff to the bare minimum, closing my house and travelling with a single backpack for long periods of time. In the end, I chose family and my son. And after he was born, randomly drifting through space with no aim in mind became my way to experiencing a ‘nomadic’ life. (Interview: Katja Hübner)

All imapges on this page: © Martin Herrera Soler
Equipment: Leica SL with Summilux-M 50 f/1.4 Asph.
© Tali Kimelman

Martin Herrera Soler

After a career in the corporate sector, Martin Herrera Soler ventured into the artistic world in 2004 and became a photographer. After many long international travels, he went to Uruguay in 2008,  to dedicate himself to pictures dealing with his homeland. His work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Germany, Brazil and Uruguay.

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