Behind the lens

Kevin Faingnaert: Far-flung cultures and everyday lives

Where are you based?

Gent, Belgium.

How do you make a living?

I’m a freelance photographer. I make a living mainly from shooting editorial, travel and documentary assignments for magazines. I also try to work on various personal social documentary projects each year.

What are you most passionate about?

The world and its people. I try to never lose the ability to wonder or to be amazed by people I meet and places I come across, even in my own street.

How has travel made an impact on your life?

It’s doing so much to me. By travelling, I become a stronger and more independent human being. Traveling solo really made me stand on my two legs. Traveling frees my mind and inspires me. It offers you a fresh look at things. Whenever I’m frustrated about my work, I go out and hope to find something inspiring. At the same time, I appreciate home more and more. While travelling I always realise what’s so good about living in Belgium, how I love my friends and family, and that nothing in the world can replace them. I love going out on a little adventure, but I also love coming back.

What camera do you use?

A Canon 5D Mark III and a Mamiya RZ67.

In spring 2015, I ventured to Matavenero, a remote eco-village high up in the isolated mountainous region of North West Spain. The village was populated in 1989 by an international mix of strong, independently-minded people who wanted to live simply in harmony with nature. During my stay, I immersed in their lifestyle and getting to know them on a daily basis turned into a genuine coexistence, which allowed me to make a series of people whom I could call friends.
Left: Antoni grew up in a nearby Spanish city. Six years ago he decided to move to Matavenero and bought this house from its former owner. Right: Jürn’s house. One of the German pioneers who built the village.
Føroyar is a series I made in the winter of 2016, about life in remote and sparsely populated villages on the Faroe Islands, an archipelago in the middle of the North Atlantic, halfway between Scotland and Iceland. I couchsurfed and hitchhiked my way across the islands, finding doors opening to me everywhere I went.
On the Faroe Islands, across swathes of snow-veiled landscapes and bordered by dramatic coastline, villages are slowly dropping into decline as more and more of their inhabitants are emigrating from the island in pursuit of greater opportunities. In a lot of villages half of the houses stand empty. Young Faroese people move abroad – mainly to Denmark – to travel or to pursue a higher education but most don’t return to their hometown afterwards.
Though at times lonely and perpetually freezing, I learned to appreciate the small, simple comforts of life. In these clear and pristine landscapes, where villages with populations as low as ten huddle together on the edge of cliffs, I revealed a community hanging on firmly to their roots and coloured houses, while underlining that one day these villages must inevitably disappear.
I had been travelling through South America for a couple of months during autumn 2016. I made a photo story of my time spent in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.  The series combine vast mountainous ranges with portraits and tiny flashes of everyday life. It’s my love letter to the land and to the generations of people and animals who have shaped it. This is a photo shot during the five days hike around the sacred Ausangate mountain following a path that is over 4000 metres above sea level.
I spent some days crossing the infamous salt lakes in Bolivia. Far off the tourist trail, halfway between the large lagoon Colorado and giant salar Uyuni is a beautiful place, where several beautiful lagoons surrounded by a number of high volcanoes stretch over a relatively small area. Laguna Hedionda invited me to stop and photograph some flamingos here.
Left: The first thing that will strike you when visiting Bolivia are the cholita women with their bowler hats. They are everywhere, and most of the women wear them perched atop their long black braids. This cholita fashion is a source of pride. Right: One of the many hummingbirds I came across on Isla del Sol in Bolivia.
In Argentina, I spent a week on a ranch. This is local gaucho Daniel Gutierrez on a horse near Cordoba.
Left: The Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia. Right: Alejandro Hernandez, one of the park rangers.