Lucia Herrero


‘Tribes’ is a social analysis, a raw portrait of occidental society.

Groups of families and friends set themselves up by the sea equipped to spend a day in the sun. All this, harmoniously juxtaposed, seems like a poem of customs that reveal with humor, color and tenderness, the profundity of a whole society.

This series represents the human condition in a moment of peaceful holiday, pride, honesty and vulnerability. The objectively limited surrounding offers a complete extract of the essential. The photos are inspired by the studio portraits of ancient tribes who proudly posed in traditional costumes next to their prized possessions. The sky and the sea become the painted backdrop of the studio and the sand seems as if it were sprinkled on the studio floor. The lighting and the theatricality of the groups add an element of fantasy to the portraits of real people in their natural surroundings.

The photos were taken along the Spanish coast and people were asked to participate on the spot: ten minutes for a flashing set up, balancing color, shapes and hierarchies. All that gets dissolved afterwards leaving as the only witness a group portrait, a poetic painting, a human allegory.


Lucia Herrero (Madrid, 1976) studied Architecture at Polytechnic University Madrid, Photography CEV (Madrid), FOTOGRAM (Amsterdam), IEFC (Barcelona), and Physical Theatre -Jacques Lecoq Tech.

In 2010 Lucia’s work was successful in various photographic competitions: winner at the SFR-Jeunes-Talents which led to exhibit at Rencontres d’Arles; Group ‘Discoveries PhotoEspana ’10’ and among 10 best portfolios in Barcelona Photomeeting and Month of Photography in Bratislava. She has been  finalist in Magnum Expression Awards, Scoop Photo Festival and Honourable Mention at Viewbook. Her work has been exhibited in the Photography Festival of Pingyao (China), SCAN Festival in Tarragona, Lille 3000. In 2011 she’ll exhibit in Fotoseptiembre (MexicoDF), Belfast Photofestival, Montpellier and Toulouse and hall “Manege”, St.Petersburg.

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Lucia Herrero

32 thoughts on “Lucia Herrero – Tribes”

  1. I absolutely adore this.
    Firstly I love straightforward portraiture where people just present themselves to the camera. Here, the absence of much clothing adds another wonderful dimension as we see all shapes, sizes, and ages all just pausing to pose for a snap thankyou very much.
    The use of a very strong flash that over-powers the sun adds a slightly surreal element and makes it appear almost as if these people were standing in front of a fake background. The flash also renders the subjects in brilliant brutal detail.
    Love it love it.

    I am reminded of the work of Neil Slavin, who I’m happy to discover, after a google search, is still around. I have his wonderful ‘BRITONS” book. Neil is fascinated with how people form themselves into little “tribes”. Britons was shot with one of those old monster 20×24 Polaroid camers and enough flash power to light a small village. & PROJECTS/BRITONS/8/

  2. Looks very much like Rineke Dijkstra’s “Beach” series. I’m not much into the fill flash look. Amazing how bad most of us look in swim suits.

  3. A lot lot of fat people go to the beach in Spain it seems.

    I know there is this ‘oh what a wonderful diverse world photography is, isnt it great?’ vibe going around….and maybe it is.
    But very few types of photography REALLY speak to me, and this is most certainly NOT one of them.

  4. Living in a place that is dark and cold for so long, there comes a time each winter when I begin to fantasize:

    “I should go to a beach in Spain, strip down to a bathing suit and enjoy the surf and sun.”

    Now that Lucia Herrero has given me a clear picture of what I would look like if I were I to so, I have changed my mind.

    I wonder why it is, though, that human beings who appear as human beings do at different stages of life look so bad to us human beings, with only a relative few among us who look any better.

    Hollywood, TV and internet fantasy, I guess.

  5. Dumbfounded how can one see people presenting themselves “straightforward” here? Unless one finds that the “Demoiselles d’ Avignon” presented themselves straightforwardly to picasso and our own eyes. Or of course , as Lucia says, that the ancient tribes posed “naturally” in a studio. What I mean is: These are “tableaux”, as much as photos.

    Photography where the subject(idea or people) bend itself (unstraightforwardly, unnaturally) to a concept, a technique, are not what attracts me the most in photography. Also, absolute masters of the “our tribe” genre are, so to speak, looking over Lucia’s shoulder. Martin Parr, David La Chapelle, and it is hard not to think of how far they stretched it, so creatively and with much humour or irony, in the same, both in surface and inquisitively, ethnological way as the concept implies.

    I am also reminded of my very oen tribe, when we used to make fun or dad for wearing socks at the beach. I hope there is a picture of that somewhere in our shoe boxes and family albums at home.

  6. I get the premise of the series and don’t mind the ‘overflash’ technique, as a rule, but I
    find the execution, here, a little underwhelming.
    Flash intensity falloff makes the images look a little cheap and seeing shadows from multiple directions
    is almost always a deal breaker for me.

    There are few individuals who can pull off this technique without,inadvertently, rendering the
    subjects as ‘odd’ and not so much as ‘slices in time’.
    I think if the lighting was a little more finessed, the end result would be more compelling

    Check out this blog entry to see one approach to the heavily lit on location approach with a bit more
    attention to the lighting.

  7. I’m not much into the fill flash look

    honestly Jim , the above is not really FILL flash…
    its kind of old school- “school portraits”, first underexpose couple stops and if balance the light then its fill u can see its not balanced (overpowering) but i respect the fact that the photog had only!? 10 minutes to take the “correct” light measuring…
    but other than those tech obvious struggles there are at least 2 photos that i can break a smile and im happy for that..Smiling feels good…

  8. Panos, Jim

    With respect, yes, this is not “fill” flash, the flash is the key light.

    Fill flash is where you “fill” in the shadows, with flash. Here, the flash provides the main light, without flash, the subjects are sillhouettes.

  9. Lighting 101

    The “key” or “main” light establishes the lighting pattern and the direction of light. The “fill” light, which usually comess from the camera position, and not cast any shadows, determines the lighting ratio (how light the shadows are compared to the main light}.

  10. no “fill in” here at all…KEY light is the flash as Gordon said and the rest underexposed , kinda like the nat geo of 70ies and 80ies..

    but apart from the “light struggles” above i admire the power of the photog to CONVINCE those random beach goers to be photographed…
    my MAIN and ONLY question/admiration is “How did u approach the families? most folks are so self conscious when in swimsuit- especially in california..” it seems that spaniards are more care free…;)

  11. “People obesessed with guns are OK though right?”

    I don’t know about in all the US, but in Texas, a woman packin’ a Desert Eagle is considered sexually explicit! ;)

  12. Pingback: Fim de Verão. | vida breve

  13. Oh, dear, I forgot about the kids in swimsuits/lawsuit issues in the US.
    Gordon, Jim… yes , it is weird, puritanism is coming back stronger than ever! and all those cheap tv shows about kids, internet, porn,fear fear fear fear….
    “what if my kid end up on internet?” blah blah etc

  14. I just love this work, it is so representative of the people who are hanging out at the beach, the excessive tan, the weird swimsuit. People are usually self-conscious about their body but when they go to the beach the seem to forget about it, the beach has always been a strange place to me. The last two photographs are my favorites.

  15. Nice humor in #12… the group posing next to beach chairs as if they were long boards in Malibu.

    Reminds me of the time I was playing with an Irish Bagpipe Band in a local Irish pub. A few drunken fools heard our pipes and imediately picked up 4-legged bar stools turned upside down, then proceeded to march around the bar pretending to play the pipes to the sounds of our jig.

    I find humor in the use of a reasonable facsimile.

  16. John – admittedly it is the only one here that I can hear, but the soundtrack goes sort of like this:

    “Woo..hooo!” cries the man, with a pitch akin to that of a startled bird.

  17. we shuffle off our clothes as an evocation, as only but a few creatures are able to, snakeskin, cicada shell, hermithome,foulweather feather, sharktooth as acadian shell……there the gamble at the sea eventideline….

    i’ve spent the last 5 days wading out into the leftbreaking tooth-ticked short curl sea of south carolina, a beach torn up by the backbite of Irene, emptied of most tourists but the wayward seabirds hunched lower to escape the bounding that beauford and kittyhawk and duck and the swamps to the north shored up….and scattered among the broken pier waving like a broken arm and the driftwood brought on her hips from the carribean, go the few families that stay’d behind…relieved of their forestalled hoping-not grief and then the cantor of light…..and amid all this near-wreckage is something eternal about storms and seas and the living of the land and that is the resilient, the resplendent creatures that hunker down in their sandbuckers and lowcountry tides and palmspread gumbo that shake the wind and burn and scars and gone drifting behind and build again…

    what i love about this series is that it isn’t just about the voices (even in spanish) that i hear in each of these, but it is (the brilliance of stalled technique) surreal formality of the compositions and the extraordinary use of flash as the key light source (on a fucking beach along the mediterrean) to rhyme out all the scattering scrawl that comes with life at the beach….i want to sit with these folk, to drink warming bear or glazed glasses of white wine and tapas drying on the sandyblankets….there is so much intimacy in these pictures BECAUSE of their strange formality…those extraordinary expressions and posses and bodies and yes, they not only call up all those strange anthropological portraits (19th century Indians in the West, the early portraits of ‘found’ tribes in Africa and S.America and all those nuclear post-nuclear portraits that we’ve all be fed) but more interestingly call to mind the same beautiful cames that the history of Painting (those comissioned by aristocracy): Velasquez, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Goya, etc…..

    I love the Last Supper picture as well as the Man on the Moon, the Broaching of the Current and all the stories….

    and in many ways, this whole series (in both its humor, nod of course to Parr and LaChapelle) reminds me of a kind of Las Meninas…by the sea…..are we the viewer….are we the painter/photographer…are we not the person that THESE people are watching…are WE NOT the strangers being looked at by THEM…..that kind of beautiful stranngeness, for me, is what is the experience of beach life…the entire fucked up magnificent oddity that we call human…our strange and beautiful bodies of all shapes and sizes (i for one love that people are unafraid to share their shapes and skin and bellies and breasts and asses and legs without fear of Akaky running for his suburban mall howling),,,,our simple vanity and also our essential selves: sun, sea, sand, sex and sqwaking over ourselves and the gaze of others….

    a celebration of not people as freaks, but a celebration of who people are and how brilliantly mad we are, this juxtaposition of the essential with the insanely human….our tribal feathers and battlescars and tatoos and hunkingdown…..

    and again, that magnificent use of flash to overwhelm the sun, nonetheless…the oddity of our otherworldliness contained in the loam by the sea….

    just so surprised so few have commented….maybe it was the hurricane?…..

    Congrations on a wonderful series that i hope makes it to a book…

    and by the way, have a look at my friend Naomi Harris’ work on South Beach Florida from a couple of years ago….beautiful madness as well…

    all the best

  18. Las Meninas? Are you kidding? There’s more cloth in that one painting than there is in this entire essay, even if you include the beach umbrellas.

  19. And don’t get me started about the suburban shopping mall. You want freak shows? Go to Wal-Mart at two in the morning, when the mutants and their kids arrive to do their shopping.

  20. “Las Meninas? Are you kidding? There’s more cloth in that one painting than there is in this entire essay, even if you include the beach umbrellas.”


    And the damn dog too!

  21. Hmmm, this strikes me more as “Tribe” or “Families” than “Tribes.” A Tribe is made up of many different families that share ethnic and cultural traits. It might be very interesting to compare/contrast other beach-going tribes from disparate parts of the world shot in the same manner.

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