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Discovering the tiny islands of Denmark

The island of Faroe in Denmark oozes fairytale aesthetic. From the rolling hills tipped with sprinklings of snow to the tiny buildings housing the diminishing population of 50,000 inhabitants.

Bel­gium based pho­tog­ra­ph­er Kevin Faing­naert doc­u­ment­ed these small island towns in his series Føro­yar,’ giv­ing us a sen­sa­tion of nos­tal­gia for a place we’ve nev­er visited.

Immers­ing him­self in the remote cul­ture of these islands locat­ed halfway between Scot­land and Ice­land, Kevin per­fect­ly cap­tures the unique hos­pi­tal­i­ty found in these communities.

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How do you choose the places you pho­to­graph?
There’s no the­o­ry behind how I choose places I want to pho­to­graph. I heard about the ecov­il­lage of Mataven­ero through a friend, I dis­cov­ered pro­fes­sion­al wrestling in Bel­gium by a poster in the street, I found the Faroe Islands just by look­ing at the map. Of course, find­ing a place is nev­er enough but that’s why I do the research, to find a story.

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Do you immerse your­self in the vil­lages you pho­to­graph?
Yes, it’s hard for me to take por­traits of peo­ple and places you don’t know. Por­trait ses­sions usu­al­ly last an hour, drink­ing cof­fee and chat­ting. Then 10 min­utes of mak­ing the actu­al photograph.

In Mataven­ero before tak­ing the pho­tos I worked on the land, mopped the vil­lage bar, dug a new canal and fed the don­keys. I start­ed unpack­ing my cam­era only after a week of work. It was the same for my wrestling series Catch.’ I attend­ed a cou­ple of wrestling shows, I talked with wrestlers back­stage and got to know them before arriv­ing there with my camera.

For me, it’s very impor­tant to show respect and hon­our to your subject’s lifestyle. I would nev­er want my sub­jects to feel that I’m voyeuris­ti­cal­ly tak­ing (weird) pic­tures of them. I work in a col­lab­o­ra­tive way. I want the peo­ple I pho­to­graph to trust me and feel com­fort­able. In the end I want my sub­jects to be proud of the final sto­ry too.

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How would you best describe the Faroe Islands to some­one who has nev­er vis­it­ed?
The Faroe Islands are an absolute­ly enchant­i­ng and mood­i­ly beau­ti­ful place. Every vil­lage is sur­round­ed by a stun­ning land­scape of rocky sea, cliffs and cloud encir­cled moun­tains. At first glance all hous­es seem aban­doned and you feel like the only per­son around for miles. Once you get to know some­body from the vil­lage, it doesn’t take long before you get to know the whole vil­lage. Most of the peo­ple have known each oth­er for their whole lives. One hour after someone’s done some­thing, the whole town knows about it. This has its pros and cons. The Faroese peo­ple are proud, friend­ly, maybe a lit­tle bit shy, but that only lasts until you approach them. You get invit­ed in someone’s house easily.

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What is one sit­u­a­tion or per­son you met dur­ing your time on the Island that has stuck with you?
One in par­tic­u­lar is my day with Simun Hanssen, a retired sailor from the island Svínoy, where only 12 peo­ple lived when I was there. Since his retire­ment Simun has been col­lect­ing bot­tles with mes­sages on the shores of the island. Every morn­ing he walks around the island, look­ing for bot­tles with a mes­sage inside. He’s already found around 60 of them. He showed me some of the bot­tles and mes­sages. Some were love let­ters, some were kid’s draw­ings and some were just ran­dom poet­ry. When there is an address in the mes­sage, Simun writes back to them. Once he vis­it­ed one of the mes­sagers in Norway.

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All images tak­en by Kevin Faing­naert

06 Jun 2017 · neubau eyewear