"Eduardo Soler is one of those people that come along every now and then that stand out from the rest for many reasons. As a photographer, he has a great sense of composition and all the skills needed to be a great photographer. Coming from an advertising background I have worked with hundreds of photographers. Fashion, still life, product, I’ve worked with them all. I personally call some of the world’s greatest photographers “Friend”. I rate Eduardo as one the best.

I first met Eduard when he was a product photographer at The Sharper Image. His personality made it easy to call him “friend” from the first time I met him. I recently hired him to do my portrait. He was very professional! It was a joy to watch him explore the right angles and light situations to produce a fine body of work. The only problem was that there were so many great shots I had a difficult time coming up with the final choice. I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone in need of a photographer."

Bert Monroy - Artist, Author, Instructor

"Eduardo - Great, talented, professional work. Your hospitality and friendliness toward our customers was fantastic! You made everyone feel special while still serving the needs of the shoot. A special thanks to Eduardo for not only shooting world class photos, but putting together a world class team."

Joseph James O'Sullivan - Design Director - Intuit

"It has never been anything but an absolute pleasure working with Eduardo. He's creative, he's prompt and, most importantly for me, he's extremely flexible. Whenever we need a shot on deadline, Eduardo does whatever it takes to deliver high-quality images on time or ahead of schedule. I love working with Eduardo because you get the best of both worlds - a talented artist and a consummate professional."

Vince Tannura - Sr. Communications Specialist - Bayer

Eduardo Soler – “Mother And Daughter”

If one were to take a poll of the most popular genres in photography, some permutation of the family portrait would probably come out on top (although the ubiquitous selfie streamed on social media a trillion times a day might give it a run for its money). And if we parsed the family portrait even further, photographs documenting a parent and a baby or young child might be the most popular of all. Before photography became a widespread and semi-affordable means to document one’s family near the end of the 19th century with the invention of the Kodak camera in 1888, painting took on the herculean role of immortalizing both the sacred and secular. The Bible, of course, was the wellspring that painters drew upon often for ready made subjects. It comes as no surprise that Christian iconography teems with countless depictions of The Holy Family—ranging from the stupendous to the pedestrian.

Two of the most iconic (a term that gets tossed around loosely and incorrectly The latest pop song is instantly ‘iconic’ if it’s not outright terrible) paintings in Christendom are Cimabue’s and Giotto’s respective but very different takes on the Enthroned Madonna and Child depicting the Virgin Mary and Christ child. Both tempera on wood panel altarpieces (now housed in the Uffizi in Florence) hail from the cusp of the late medieval and nascent Renaissance, where Western art would experience a seismic shift in focus from Heaven to Earth. Cimabue’s slightly earlier Santa Trinita Maesta (c.1290-1300), remains largely entrenched in the medieval world—its flat gold leaf wall behind Mary’s haloed head and gilded striations zipping through her opaque blue cloak (denoting the Virgin’s purity) emblematic of the celestial realm The Queen of Heaven herself is a stock type from Byzantium—a flat, psychologically inert paper doll with no underlying sense of anatomy who casts no shadows and weightlessly levitates upon her throne . Whereas Mary possesses a wooden expression at best, one detects a glint of foreboding written across the face of the preternatural savior.

Cimabue’s late medieval masterpiece is usually paired with Giotto’s magisterial Ognissanti Madonna (c.1310).in every introductory art history class. While Giotto retains the traditional medieval gold backdrop of his former teacher Cimabue here (The commission may have even specified as much), he did away with the gold ground in favor of bluer skies—albeit a heavenly blue—in his ground-breaking Arena Chapel fresco cycle executed in Padua a few years earlier. Giotto was a game changer. The first tremors of bringing painting down-to-earth and infusing it with a humanism and naturalism that would become hallmarks of the Renaissance are already felt here. Compared to Cimabue’s wooden Madonna, Mary is a palpably warmer flesh-and-blood human mother with faintly red lips, rosy cheeks, and breasts that are noticeably visible through her diaphanous white garb. Our future savior, for his part, resembles something closer to a chain-smoking pool shark than a beautiful baby or young child. Dante was hanging out with Giotto in Padua (The Divine Comedy poet had been banished from Florence for corruption and financial malfeasance, and threatened with beheading or being burnt at the stake if he returned) and quipped how ugly Giotto’s own children were. “My friend, you make such handsome figures for others. Why do you make such plain ones for yourself?” I paint for others by day,”. Gitto retorted.

In medieval art, the infant Jesus, though rendered much smaller than his giantess mother, usually resembles a miniature adult—or homunculus (‘little man’)—rather than a baby or pudgy child. Indeed, one might find the Christ child sporting a receding hairline or five o’clock shadow. The line of thinking being that he’s the offspring of the immaculate conception and thus was born more closely resembling a fully formed adult than a child. Moreover, the Church decreed the “age of reason” as commencing when one reached the ripe old age of 7 (whereupon one could be held responsible for sin. Spare the rod and spoil the child probably wasn’t far behind ). Childhood, in fact, wasn’t viewed as a separate developmental stage of life until around the 18th century.

By the time the 19th century rolled around, enlightenment trickled along with it and children were beginning to be portrayed as children rather than as miniature adults or inanimate dolls Edgar Degas’ brilliant psychologic family portrait The Bellelli Family (c. 1858-67) is a crowning achievement of classicist infused realism and much more of a family affair than one might glean on first glance. This indelible scene of familial estrangement unfolds as on a stage set within the Bellelli’s cramped apartment in Florence, where Degas was visiting his Aunt Laura—aka the Baroness Bellelli. (While making studies of artworks in the Uffizi, he may well have seen Cimabue’s and Giotto’s altarpieces). On first glance, it appears that just two generations are represented: the baroness, her husband (Baron Genarro Bellelli) and their two young daughters Giovanna (7) and Giula (10). In fact, four generations are present: The black-clad baroness was pregnant and mourning the recent death of her father, Hilare (Degas’ grandfather), who is represented in a small ghostly sketch on the wall behind her.

Even without knowing the backstory, Degas has masterfully captured the stormy family dynamics through purely visual means and makes it abundantly clear where his allegiances lay. Mother and daughters occupy two-thirds of the painting while the father resides in his own cluttered sector bluntly delineated by a vertical barrier stretching from bottom to top ( comprised of armchair leg, fireplace edge, and mirror frame). The baron, his bearded face partially in shadow, is a disheveled shell of a man who slouches slightly forward in his upholstered armchair, bringing to mind Judas from Leonardo’s Last Supper as a figure who is at once part of yet apart from the rest of the group. The desk behind Guila serves as an additional barricade amplifying the estrangement between the female trinity to his left. Even the geometry is different. Matriarch and daughters form a classical pyramid (the most stable geometric shape), while Genarro is hemmed in by rectilinear bric-a-brac.

Giovanna is her mother’s daughter and practically a physical extension of the baroness (The baronesses places her arm protectively around her daughter’s right shoulder while the hem of Giovanna’s black dress blends into and mirrors her mother’s like a bas-relief sculpture. Both girls’ matching black dresses-and starch-white pinafores are a nod to Manet). The raven-haired older daughter Giula, meanwhile, more closely resembles her mother in appearance yet her loyalties are divided and serves as the physical and psychological fulcrum between the two camps. As her body subtly body breaks away from her mother and sister, Giula’s head turns toward her father even as she stares out into space. (No one looks at Genarro. If they were, he would be on the receiving end of the evil eye and cold shoulder—at least from the baroness ). Degas makes palpable the distance and estrangement of a marriage on the rocks. The baroness confided as much to Degas “My husband is immensely disagreeable and dishonest…. Living with Gennaro, whose detestable nature you know and who has no serious occupation, shall soon lead me to the grave.”. She is presented as a Victorian noblewoman who towers over her husband seated below (literally head and shoulders above him), Her stylish, regal air traces back to Ingres’ high society portraits of women while the stern yet sullen stoicism etched across her ossified mask of a face anticipates Picasso’s Portrait of Gertrude Stein by half a century.

This year’s winning entry in the Photography category, Eduardo Soler’s Mother and Daughter, Oaxaca, Mexico, combines traditional Christian-classical structures with a more prosaic realism (ala The Bellelli Family). The Oakland artist and former staff photographer for The Sharper Image catalogue emigrated from Spain to the United States with his parents as a young child. Although he’s often holed up in a studio working with clients, his real passion is as a peripatetic street photographer whose philosophy is simply “If you want to be a better photographer, take your camera for a walk. Be quiet, look and walk, you will find something.” This includes everything from formal wedding portraits to decapitated mannequin heads peeking out from unzipped backpacks on city sidewalks. In his own art, he attempts to capture his Mediterranean heritage through a rich black-and-white palimpsest that combines the old and the new with the sacred and secular as it deftly weaves the public and private spheres within a single image.

Mother and Daughter (2022) was shot in Oaxaca, Mexico following the annual Day of the Dead parade celebrating all the children who had passed away. It immortalizes a young mother (in her 20s) and daughter (4ish) seated on the stone steps of the local cathedral. While Soler adopts the iconic frontality and centrality found in Cimabue’s and Giotto’s traditional Enthroned Madonna and Child, his elegant yet earthy portrait doesn’t feel like a religious image per se. It neither takes place inside the cathedral nor, for that matter, is the backdrop even recognizable as a house of worship. Yet it’s hardly an ordinary slice of-life snapshot, either—but rather a taut marriage of the sacred and secular (tipping slightly toward the secular).Both figures are decked out in festive yet somber (predominantly black) costumes befitting the occasion while tasteful face painting (a simple butterfly on the mother’s chin symbolizing transformation or rebirth) complemented by faux rubies and pearls pasted around their eyes form facial masks that serve as unifying links between mother and daughter (The faux jewelry mirrors the abstract pattern on the girl’s dress and mother’s pearl earrings). The “flowers” adorning mother and daughter’s headdresses reprise the floral stone filigree behind them (in the mother’s case they appear to actually touch ala many a proto cubist still life where it’s difficult to discern what’s-in-front-of-what) and pushes the distant plane forward, generating a subliminal link between the figures and the structure behind them.

In terms of psychology, Soler depicts a fully human mother and child who exude warmth and dignity None of the Baroness Bellelli’s icy stoicism or the homunculus Christ child’s world weariness is felt here. Rather, the sunburst hues shot through the little girl’s black dress heighten the a festive air of the parade that just ended (This is palpable this even in the black-and-white print). Our maternal mother is closer to Giotto’s Mary than Cimabue’s carboard madonna.

As she protectively places her arms around her young daughter (or perhaps she just wants to make sure the young girl sits still for this formal portrait), the little girls’ expression is just about what one would expect. Unlike the slightly scowling Christ child who bears the weight of humanity on his shoulders, this child doesn’t appear sad—just bemused and a trifle antsy; she would probably rather be off somewhere playing with her friends like any normal child, Both subjects look straight into the camera in a manner more akin to Cimabue’s and Giotto’s altarpieces rather than to the The Bellelli Family with its photography-like cropping, staring aimlessly into space , and tilted-box perspective.

Laura Bellelli might disagree, but for Soler there’s no place like home. Some of his most magical and indelible images stem from trips back to his native Spain, where he continues to wed past with present and generate fond childhood memories in the process. Human Tower finds the artist in Northern Spain (Catalonia, land of Picasso) documenting the Castells—human towers that can attain heights of up to ten stories as part of the annual festivities honoring Saint Felix, the patron saint for the town of Vilafranca del Penedes. Shot from a bird’s eye vantage point, the circular tapestry coalesces into something resembling a human flower and a spontaneously choreographed synchronized swimming routine. While the sheer mass of humanity packed like sardines into a constricted space conjures James Ensor’s Christ’s Entry Into Brussels (many of whose denizens don fright night masks inspired by those found in Ensor’s family’s curio shop), the feeling here is festive and communal rather than claustrophobic—the climax of a public celebration (The castell is a literal civic support system) rather than signaling that a potentially unruly mob has blown into town the way it does across Ensor’s large sprawling rectangular canvas.

For Holly Week – Seville, Spain the artist made a pilgrimage south for the annual Holy Week festival. Rather than capture the rich pageantry marked by floats and marching bands of 14 hour processions that start out from homes, churches, and chapels enroute to a central cathedral before winding their way back to their starting points, Soler has chosen to immortalize a solitary figure holding a lit torch along a dusky, narrow and seemingly deserted cobblestoned street. This stark minimalist masterpiece possesses a yesteryear aura that oozes ritual and silent grandeur. The anonymous protagonist is clad in black from head to toe capped (literally) by.a capirote, the tall pointed conical hat adopted by the Catholic Church as a symbol of penitence (Since the capirote here is also a hood that conceals the entire face ,his or her identity is shielded unlike, say, an adulterer forced to wear the scarlet letter ‘A’ in public) As abstract diagonals slice through the scene, the torch’s curving flame echoes reflected light from a partially visible insignia that mimics a crescent moon near the bottom of the capirote (the tall thin torch, meanwhile, mirrors the capirote’s pointed crown) and darts through the centuries, resurrecting fellow Spaniard Francisco Goya’s paintings and prints, Oscar Wilde poetry (“We are all in the gutter, Some of us are looking at the stars”), and even the Ku Klux Klan (the ultimate sinners and perverters of Christian values The KKK, of course dons white linen. Their capirotes understandably bring to mind giant dunce caps—if the sheet fits. Unlike the sleek, elegant and highly aesthetic black garb found in Seville , the Klan’s ill-fitting costumes look like they were purchased in bulk through a second-rate mail order catalogue, which, in fact, was often the case. Hollywood and D.W. Griffith’s racist epic The Birth of a Nation played a part here.)

Artful black-and-white photographs of identical twins reflexively flashback to Diane Arbus’ iconic shot of two young twin girls from Roselle, New Jersey. Though Soler’s elderly Twins are unidentified doppelgangers seen from the back strolling gingerly on a city sidewalk after dark, from their matching hats and leopard skin fur coats they appear to be the ostensibly well-heeled Brown twins (Marian and Vivian) who were a fixture around San Francisco’s Union Square for decades.

If Twins is a fairly straight forward slice-of-life, Heart takes an unabashedly surreal turn into The Twilight Zone. A young girl (maybe 5-7) is all dolled up like an adult, her partially painted lips doubling the small heart on the white collar. The slightly sullen expression is that of a lost little girl in search of her mother, belying the childhood innocence implied by the large lollipop she holds over her right shoulder. If not for the modern cars in the background, Heart might be mistaken for a dour Shirley Temple impression or still from a 1940s noir film. The mood of this in-your-face portrait bust is slightly creepy until we learn the girl is actually decked out in a Halloween costume and Soler chanced upon her when he took his camera for a walk on the streets of Oakland.

~Harry Roche

Cimabue—Enthroned Madonna and Child



Giotto—Entrhoned Madonna and Child



Eduardo Soler—Human Tower




Eduardo Sole—Heart



Eduardo Soler—Twins




Edgar Degas—The Belleli Family



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"Eduardo Soler is an individual you always want on your creative team, flexible, easy to work with and of course, he delivers the goods with top-notch quality. As a studio photographer, Eduardo saved me countless hours of time with his expert knowledge of lighting and product photography. He's also done numerous architectural, model, and location jobs with the same professional care.

If you are a large or small company or an individual interested in improving your image, you should hire Eduardo. I highly recommend him. Feel free to contact me directly for a personal reference."

Chris Kitze - Publisher at Before It's News

"Eduardo is a dedicated professional with an artistic view and impressive knowledge of photography techniques. He has a great personality, he is humble and very easy to work with. I enjoyed working with him."

Houman Sharif - Architect - MEMarchitecture

"Eduardo was an amazing creative collaborator and production resource in developing a complex photographic campaign for the American Institute of Architects. His vision, diligence, expertise, and resourcefulness made him an absolute pleasure to work with, as well as a key element in producing, unique, memorable, and award-winning work. It was an honor and a privilege to work with him."

Jeremy Mende - Designer - MendeDesign

"Working with Eduardo is pure joy. He brought out the light in me. The headshots he took have brought me more attention and bookings than I ever imagined possible and helped me get LA representation."

Lisa Carlson - Actress

"Eduardo Soler is great to work with. Organized and prompt, he solved any issues that came up with a calm confidence. The photographs made my work look great, surpassing my expectations."

Mary V. Marsh - Artist