My grandfather was an amateur photographer who used his view camera as a portable laboratory. When I was about 8, I became his “assistant,” which only meant I was allowed to hold a leg of his tripod. I remember moments in which he would photograph me then show me a piece of paper still soaked with fixer. He would tell me: “This is you.”
That statement, which seemed more than obvious at the time, began to gain significance as the years passed. My grandfather is gone, and I am unable to clearly remember what I experienced in the past. Now, to remember who I am, I look at that picture and then I can state: “That’s me.”
When we look at a photograph related to our experiences, our intangible and unreliable memories surrender to the printed image. The concrete photographs replace our abstract memories, and our identity is certified by that set of photographs.
Some time ago, a friend gave us some negatives and old postcards he had found inside a picture wallet in the trash. After scanning the negatives, we found they were family portraits taken about 40 years ago by an amateur photographer. All shared a common feature: they were underexposed, so it was hard to recognize the people pictured.
The family could belong to anyone. Those moments, that formed part of the photographer’s identity, could also be ours. So, we decided to use our own photographs along with the anonymous ones, unifying all of them using the same printing process and thus generating the identity and memories of someone who never existed.
The portfolio “This is you” has been growing over time. Creating this fictitious family has helped us to go deeper into the concept of identity and as a result, we have become interested in the relation between place and identity. This new exploration has taken the form of “This is you here.”
We wanted to relate spaces to portraits with the aim of capturing the interconnection among identity, time and space. We first used different kinds of landscapes, but they were too specific to be paired with a set of portraits meant to be anonymous and timeless. It was at that point that we started to use landscapes photographed during the transitional moment of twilight. The shadows of dawn or sunset animate the speculation, unfolding open-ended narratives in the viewer, granted them total freedom to find the connection between the portrait and the place.
—Albarrán Cabrera (Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán)
Editor’s Note: Albarrán Cabrera’s project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017—don’t miss the work from all 44 of the outstanding, international talents! You can follow their work on their Instagram account and personal website.