This series contains color photographs that are so monochromatic and melancholic in tone that they come to resemble painting. I am driven by an obsessive search for truth, sincerity and simplicity through bodies and faces—through beings.

In my work, I try to get close to the other, to know him better and hence to know myself better. I take interest in the human condition through the different phases and aspects of life: childhood, adolescence, old age, sickness, sexual identity…

When I took these portraits, the sessions were comparable to sitting for a painting. A single session would last for several hours as each subject was modeled through light. All of this was done in almost complete silence—just a few words sufficed to adjust the pose to get the right image, gesture or action. The set-ups always remained simple to allow the usual walls of individuality to collapse. By working with my subjects for so long, I was able to achieve a greater depth in presence.

Giving up and letting go: that’s what I consider my decisive moment.

—Vincent Gouriou

Editor’s Note: This series was a finalist in the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2014. Discover all of the winners and finalists — an impressive array of portraits from many points of view.