Throughout her life, the London-based photographer Paola Paredes has on a few occasions found herself on the precipice of coming out to her parents. But it was only recently that she sat down with her sisters to tell her mother and father, “I’m gay.” Three cameras captured the entire experience and discussion, which took place over three hours.
Before taking with her parents, the artist confided in her sisters. At some points along the way, she felt resigned to the fact that she might never be able to share the details of her relationships, triumphs, and heartaches with her mom and dad. It was the concept of photographing the event that ultimately motivated her to take the leap.
Unveiled, the series that resulted from the conversation, is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the emotional and technical preparations that went into photographing Paredes’s coming out. Weeks prior to her visit to Ecuador, she printed photographs of her parents and covered her walls with them in hopes of feeling safe, comfortable, and familiar with their faces. She lived with them for a while and documented their daily routines so that they might also feel comfortable with the cameras.
She studied film stills of families arranged around a dinner table, and had a special table made and moved into her parents’ living room to suit the angles of the three cameras, whose shutters were set to release automatically every five seconds. By the time Paredes finally set her family around the table, the cameras hardly seemed odd or out of place. Everything unfolded organically, and of the thousands of frames captured in those few hours, only one pictures someone looking directly into the lens.
Although the photographer admits that it was an emotional experience, her parents were loving and accepting. In Ecuador, where less than twenty years ago homosexuality was criminalized, coming out can be difficult, and some children are disowned. For Paredes, it turned out very differently. When she showed them Unveiled, the photographer’s mom and dad were moved anew; their love hasn’t changed.
All images © Paola Paredes