Self-taught photographer presents pictures of Cuba2 min read

Lydia Tuan, The Beat Editor

De Anza College hosted the last of its photography lecture series featuring Bay Area-based photographer Germán Herrera on Thursday, June 5.

Herrera presented photographs he had taken in Cuba and cited his influences as coming from music and psychology. He said psychology became “the life of [his] house.”

Born in Mexico City, Herrera was exposed to photography through his grandfather, who worked as an engineer and pursued photography as a hobby. Herrera recalled his home smelling like fixer as he was growing up.

“When I would come to visit him, it was strange because it smelled like an old person, it smelled like fixer, it smelled like developer.” Herrera said.

“I could see all these cameras, photographs of animals. I browsed through them, all these pictures of sculptures … and I think that’s where photography really started becoming a major part of my life,”

Herrera later formally began his education in photography after moving to California and enrolling in the California of the Arts college.

He dropped out a semester later, choosing to learn about photography hands-on by working in the field. Herrera left for Cuba and started taking some of the photos presented in the lecture series.

“I feel that part of my experience in the last two years have to do with honesty,” said Pierce on the concept of self-reflective photography.

Herrera said photography can be used as a form of therapy. The focus of his photography is about exploring the ugly and the obscure.

“I think the whole growth aspect of life is an equation of pain and pleasure,” he said.

“The more pain you have…that pain continues to escalate and pushes you to do something that takes you out of your space of comfort.”

As part of the series, De Anza’s photography department invites local photographers as guest speakers who present their work and discuss experiences with the photography industry to photography majors and aspiring photographers.

De Anza’s photo lab technician Chia Wen helped put together the lecture series for student photographers who want to learn from more experienced photographers.

Photography professor Diane Pierce said the focus of the lecture series was to give students a “behind-the-scenes” view of the photography industry and also to show how one’s photography can be used to reflect one’s inner self.