Window on Xavier Guardans

2004 Xavier Guardans - Courtesy Damiani

Portraits from Kenya.

Instagram is one way to mimic the square format so warmly evocative of midcentury photography—another, apparently, is a Toyota Land Cruiser.

The outback truck is Spaniard Xavier Guardans’s tool of choice in Windows (Damiani, April), his first book of photographs. Over multiple trips to Kenya in 2006, Guardans took 25 black-and-white portraits from the backseat of his four-by-four, snapping his subjects, members of the Turkana, Samburu, Masai, Rendille, Gabra and Pokot tribes, through a rear window.

Set in high contrast against a bleached-out sky, they’re a desert-bound approximation of the traditional (climate-controlled) studio shoot—or, with Guardans in the dark backseat, a twist on the 19th-century photographer, hooded behind a clanking, accordion-like contraption. And in the case of Nangorot (pictured), the young Turkana half in shadow and leaning languorously through the frame, the result is all the more immersive.