Standing by a traffic light, I photograph moving cars. A strong spotlight illuminates them, allowing a glimpse of the interior for just a second. The camera uses that moment to stop the anonymous fluidity and look inside. Shadows become couples, parents with their children, people by themselves. Lives that appear by chance in front of us and suddenly are not foreign to us. 

Camino Laguillo

 

Bubbles of intimacy

_Alejandro Castellote

One of the principles of photography is to make the invisible visible. The visual magnetism given off when a moment is frozen is at the root of our vision’s incapacity to fix that instant clearly. Photography allows us to revel in the extended contemplation of an instant that has been frozen as if by magic.

Camino Laguillo offers us a collection of images which have been obtained with the patience of a hunter. These are moments of elusive fleetingness, made unsettling by the halo of darkness surrounding the subjects. The dramatized light illuminating them barely reveals a fragment of the scene and brings cinematographic texture to the image. When an image is capable of making us question its veracity by transporting us to an interrupted narration we say it looks like a film still. This is because both cinema and documentary photography rely on specific visual conventions in order to refer to reality. But if these codes are swapped the mechanism for distinguishing reality from fiction becomes unstable. By simply illuminating a fragment of reality using cinematographic parameters the resulting image overwhelms what is real to such an extent that it resembles a staged setting. In contrast, directors who aspire to truth do without artificial light as well as other elements.

The photographer’s presence in this series is as spectral as her images. This presence is only suggested when the subject’s gaze alerts us to it, but her absence impregnates the photographs in such a way that it is the spectator who may be surprised by his or her own voyeurism. Camino Laguillo invites us to peek into the bubble of intimacy that is the inside of a vehicle. A place where public poses are deactivated and self-absorbed gestures emerge. The magnetism of these frozen faces, which feel protected from the curiosity of others, comes from their alienated expressions, speaking to us in a roundabout way about the type of society we inhabit. These photographs suggest a certain degree of complicity with the spectator: each and every one of us could be the protagonist of these images.