Urban portrait photography is my speciality and my passion. I create compelling imagery through the use of natural light and careful compositions. My ability to find the best possible light is one of the main assets of my work.

“AYLAik” began as a simple exercise of observation. I used to stop and contemplate people on the streets of my city: their customs, movements, thoughts and doubts. I simply observed. One day, I decided to record it. I wanted, almost compulsively, to register these observations. The problem then became: how? How could I ensure that my subjects would continue to behave in the same way, that they wouldn’t become self-conscious if I approached them with a camera? A telephoto lens was not the solution. Robert Capa once said that if you want to improve your photos, you should move closer. He was obviously referring to the soul, not the body.

I couldn’t achieve this in my studio, and I couldn’t ask subjects to pose for me: it would have ruined their freshness and spontaneity. Losing these values would mean losing the strength of my images. Their beauty comes from their credibility.

I therefore decided to begin a hunt for the elusive images: I often felt like my eyes could see them, but that they fluttered away from my eager lens like birds. I trailed my city from end to end; I roamed its streets, every corner, its light and shadowy half-light, to find the perfect poetry. With infinite patience, I waited in dimly-lit nooks for a ray of diagonal light to cut across my chosen scene, allowing me to capture anonymous figures for just a fraction of a second. I achieved these images through an amalgam of accident and control.

My approach is almost voyeuristic; I’ve managed to identify attitudes, to make an approximation of souls, to discern the inner meanings of my subjects. My task is one of ocular dissection and taxidermy—a frenetic search to discover the serene nature that rests within every human being. I infiltrate their clothes and their skin for no other reason than to satisfy my own curiosity and make the invisible visible. I started to understand something of the futile desires we all share. Our intimate, internal worlds—the spaces we consider to be unique, a part of us and us alone—are actually pieces of an interrelated whole: not unlike the streets of a vast and inscrutable city.

—Oriol Llauradó Ballesta

Editors’ note: This inky, intriguing street photography portrait series was selected as a finalist in the LensCulture Street Photography Awards 2016. Discover more inspiring work from all the winners, jurors’ picks and finalists.