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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
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