Kevin Faingnaert is a photographer based in Gent, Belgium. He says, "I thrive on shooting interesting people and places." In 2017 he was announced as the overall winner of the ZEISS Photography Award. The 2018 edition, themed "Seeing Beyond - Untold Stories", is now open for entries.
In today's blog, we catch up with Kevin a year on from the win.
Hi Kevin. Remind us of your series 'Føroyar'
'Føroyar' is a series I made last year 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.
What has the reaction been like since the win? How did the award affect things for you?
Actually, I was on a travel assignment in Greece for a French magazine last week. They discovered my work through the ZEISS Award at the start of this year and were interested in working together. So winning the ZEISS Photography Award obviously helped in finding new clients. As a result of photo editors having seen my work through the news of winning the award, my personal documentary work has since gone on to be in print - in magazines and newspaper around the world. Not only did I get more clients, but more importantly, my self-confidence as a photographer grew since winning the award.
Why photography? Take us back to when you started in the medium
I'm interested in people and their stories, and especially in subcultures and communities who are removed from the mainstream. It's like exploring in your backyard. There are so many layers in society and through my photography, I'm able to go and explore. When I find a subculture which interests me, I'm looking for what binds these people together. Why do they live together? What's their philosophy in life? What interests them? These are things I like to find out. A camera just gives me the perfect excuse to go talk to people. They let me inside because I have a camera, because I'm working on something and they become interested in taking part of it.
You often work with both landscapes and portraits - how do you ensure the two compliment each other?
People can find feeling and connection on a human level to a portrait and what they see in the person in the picture. This is impossible with a landscape. People don’t relate as much to a landscape or a structure than with another person. I like to make landscape photos to show the environment, to show where people live and to get a sense of the place, but in the end, it is the people in the photos who make the story. Both photos have to say something about each other, otherwise it won't make it to the final edit.
Do you have a photographic philosophy?
Honestly, I'm not working and living through a certain philosophy. I work hard but I'm also having a lot of fun.
What inspires you?
There are so many things which inspire me and they change every single day. Photography-wise there are some inspirations which will stay forever I think. I love the work of Rob Hornstra and especially his Sochi Project. I love Alec Soth, Diane Arbus, Claire Richardson, Mark Power, Stefan Ruiz... Those are my heroes who will always inspire me. And then there's The Cure. I can not edit without them.