14 December 2016

Documenting Traditional Spanish Hunting

14 December 2016 - Written by Veronica Sanchis Bencomo

Antonio González Caro explores his native homeland of Spain and unveils tradition, joy, and mystery through hunting with dogs.

© Antonio González Caro, from the series Hunting Shadows

Antonio Gonzalez Caro lives in Conil de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain. He started studying photography in Jerez, in Art School. Later in 2007, he obtained a Masters in Documentary Photography at EFTI, Madrid, Spain, and since then, he has been passionate about photojournalism, focusing on long term projects.

How did you begin working on your project, Hunting Shadows?

One day some friends asked me if I would like to take photographs of their dogs running in the fields while they were hunting. When I was there for the first time it was a rather strange experience; everything was happening away from me, and I was unable to see anything interesting. That same day I met Juan, a person who truly loves with passion this type of hunt and agreed to be photographed with his dogs. From that moment I knew it would be very interesting to tell a story about this person, his dogs, his world… and not to focus on this type of hunt as a general form.

I wanted my story to show this world in a more personal way; conceptually, less journalistic or documentary.

For two years I was spending every afternoon with Juan. In the mornings I would go to work and then meet Juan for 3 to 4 hours. I spent many days without photographing, only drinking coffee, talking about his dogs, walking across the fields… until the moments that I would disappear to take photographs.

© Antonio González Caro, from the series Hunting Shadows

In your statement, you mentioned that you wanted to show a photographic aesthetic that also talks about you. Can you elaborate on that and provide examples?

To me, it is very important to tell and show a story in a very personal way. The reality that we see is different in each person: we see in the same way, and we perceive things in similar ways, but we don’t all feel what’s happening right in front of us in the same way, so I believe it is important to transmit through the images what you are feeling in that precise moment. It’s like we will put to reality a filter that would affect, in a way that would allow us to transmit that atmosphere that we see, that we breath in, that we feel when we photograph a story. That filter is personal, and each person has their own, and so in my case it is a priority that my images show that aesthetic with which I identify myself at the time of witnessing things.

How was it to photograph the running dogs in the open field? Did you encounter many challenges while working on this project?

To be honest it was a big challenge. It is very difficult to photograph these animals - they are very fast and constantly change direction. When you spend time with them you begin to understand how they behave, and therefore, you begin to intuitively follow them, but the truth is that it was complicated. In addition, Juan also taught me to observe how these dogs run and this helped me greatly.

© Antonio González Caro, from the series Hunting Shadows

I get a sense that you were focusing more on the hunting dogs than Juan himself. Is that so?

In this story, for me they are equally important: Juan and the dogs, I do think you can see that. At the beginning of the reportage I was focusing more on the dogs which allowed me to get closer to JuanThe beauty and novelty of these animals made me observe them constantly, and of course, I found them essential in the story. On the other hand, I had to show the person that stands behind them, so equally Juan and the dogs were fundamental in my story, and so you should find that union that exists among them: you cannot see one without the other.

This is the second time you have worked with a topic related to your native Spain. Is this something you are particularly interested in documenting and exploring photographically?

Yes, this is the second time and I am currently working on my third story in Spain. I can tell you that the three stories have been shot in my town in Spain. I have always been very interested in the in-depth topics related to Spain - its characters are very authentic with a conservative mentality and very traditional, and so I am very interested in showing it in my own way.

Most likely one day I would do something that will break with everything else, however, I don’t think you need to go too far and travel in order to find a topic or an interesting story to tell.

To me it is very important to find a topic that you can dedicate a lot of time to: it isn’t only about arriving and photographing, but to live with that person, to try to understand their life, and for that the closer you are the better.

© Antonio González Caro, from the series Hunting Shadows

You also shot some video for this project. Can you tell us more about your thoughts on using video aside from photography?

This video was made for a projection for a grant that I was awarded in the photography seminar of Albarracin. It was very exciting to be able to share that experience with the edition of the video, and I believe it is a perfect addition for a story to become better. Complementing audio and video to images helps to transmit the ambience that you have lived. This medium is every time becoming more common to use for photographers and I am fully in favor of any resource that helps to strengthen the story.

What is next for this project?

To me this project is finished. Yet, I do hope it continues to gain visibility. When I create my stories, I feel the necessity of expressing myself with the images, telling a story in a different way, but what ends up making sense to your work is that people understand what you have made and value it. I am now working on a new story which I hope I can share very soon.

To learn more about this project, visit Antonio's PHmuseum profile.

Written by

Veronica Sanchis Bencomo

Reading time

6 minutes

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