Luciérnaga (Firefly), Yael Martínez's photography

Yael Martínez Luciérnaga (Firefly)

Abuelo Estrella, 2021

El Espacio Entre Nosotros, 2020

Lucero Granda, 2020

El Hombre y la Montaña, 2021

El Río de la Memoria y Mis Hijas, 2022

Levantada de Cruz, 2021

Itzel en Casa, 2019

Camino Incierto, 2021

Carla, 2020

Toro, 2019

Artist's statement

I started this project as an essay on resilience: a portrayal of those who have been through trauma and are still fighting violence in their communities, and of others who risked their lives emigrating to escape that violence and support the families they left behind, becoming their economic pillars.

These people and communities inhabit and endure a difficult territory, a space, a body. To make the images, I made prints and put pinpricks in the paper, then shone light through the holes and photographed them again. The pinpricks in the images are an analogy for trauma, and how we as human beings can transform bad energy and a bad situation, and turn them into something positive, changing darkness into light. Each print becomes a person, a body, and an analogy for us as human beings, and the beauty of the piece comes from the resilience of our souls resisting a territory, a space, a body. I aim to create work that reflects the time we live in and that responds to the Latin American as well as the Mexican identity. I believe that when photography engages with education, culture, and politics, we can create a better world with different voices and perspectives in life.

About the photographer


Guerrero Mexico, 1984



Based in

Taxco, Mexico

About Yael Martínez

Martínez's work addresses fractured communities in his native country, creating images that often reflect the sense of emptiness, absence, pain and suffering of those afflicted by the state and organised crime.  

His work has featured in solo and group shows in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States.

Martínez has been honoured for his photography on many occasions. In 2019, he was a W Eugene Smith Fund Grant Recipient, a Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellow, and second prize winner in the World Press Photo Long-Term Projects category. He became a Magnum Associate member in 2022 and won the World Press Photo Contest prize for the North and Central America region in 2022.

Martínez’s work has been published widely by media including National Geographic, Aperture, The New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Vogue Italia, Bloomberg and Vrij Nederland.

He is represented by Patricia Conde Galería, Mexico City.