The World Photography Organisation and Zeiss have announced Belgian photographer Kevin Faingnaert as the winner of the second annual Zeiss Photography Award “Seeing Beyond.” Faingnaert’s series Føroyar documented life in remote villages in the Faroe Islands as a response to this year’s theme of Meaningful Places. This year more than 31 000 images were submitted from 4677 photographers worldwide. The images by Faingnaert and the nine shortlisted photographers will be presented in London from April 21 to May 7 in the Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr – 2017 Exhibition at Somerset House. Faingnaert also will receivea value of €12,000 in Zeiss lenses and €3,000 for travel expenses necessary to complete a photography project.
Claire Richardson, one of the competition judges, said, “There is a wonderful completeness to Kevin’s series; epic landscapes mix with tenderly composed portraits, tied together by a soft muted palette, which immediately draws you in. Everyday events in these remote communities are captured by the lens, from a parishioner sitting quietly in a local church to a village football game. But look closely at this unforgiving and wild environment and you realise that these are ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances, hanging on at the edge of the world.”
Photographer Name: Kevin Faingnaert, Zeiss Photography Award Winner
Series Name: Føroyar
Series Description: Føroyar is a series 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. In February 2016 I immersed myself within the Faroese community, I couch-surfed and hitch-hiked my way across the islands, finding doors opening to me everywhere I went. Here, 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 islands in pursuit of greater opportunities. Though at times lonely and perpetually freezing, I learned to appreciate the small, simple comforts of life – listening to stories told in the welcoming warmth of Faroese homes, the sound of songs against the roaring backdrop of the sea, and my memorable encounter with a message-in-a-bottle collector on the beach. In these clear and pristine landscapes, where villages with populations as low as ten huddle together on the edge of cliffs, I tried to reveal a community hanging on firmly to their roots and traditions, while underlining that one day these villages must inevitably disappear.
Photographer Name: Anna Filipova, Zeiss Photography Award Shortlist
Series Name: Research at the End of the World
Series Description: Ny-Ålesund is situated on the 79°N parallel on Svalbard Archipelago, which makes it the most northerly civilian settlement in the world. It is unique and one of the most peculiar places on earth, housing the largest laboratory for modern Arctic research in existence alongside a predominant population who are research scientists. This unique collective of men and women become the inquisitive global ambassadors for the many countries they represent: Norway, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, India, South Korea, China among others. Even though the settlement is located away from major sources of human pollution, the atmospheric circulation brings air from Europe and North America into the region. This creates a unique environment on two counts: firstly for the observation of post global warming conditions and secondly in creating a concentration of international scientific research and collaboration between nations. It has a very restricted access both because of the scientific project that are conducted and the measuring instruments that are situated around the area. To come to the settlement you have to be either a scientist working on a project with one of the stations or maintaining the infrastructure of the place. Even though there are many rules and regulations in Svalbard to protect the wildlife and preserve environment, one can see the human activity through the scientific instruments, which are gradually becoming part of the landscape.
Photographer Name: Frederik Buyckx, Zeiss Photography Award Shortlist
Series Name: Horse Head
Series Description: Kyrgyzstan has always been a nation of horsemen and has rich nomadic heritage and traditions that have been woven into the identity of the Kyrgyz people. During summer months, many families continue to graze their herds in mountain meadows, called jailoos, preserving old customs and ways of nomadic life. In winter the shepherds and their livestock have to deal with incredible harsh weather conditions in the mostly mountainous terrain. Most winter evenings these days are spent in front of a television and the warmth of an always-burning stove. And although even the isolated areas often have cellphone reception nowadays, most of their daily life hasn’t changed much in the last decades. The horse has always had a central role in their semi-nomadic life. It is crucial to herd their animals in the mountains and the horse is also indispensable for its milk and meat. Also the Kyrgyz like to spend their leisure time on the back of a horse, and they often play games in which horsemanship dominates all competitions, like Kok Boru in which teams on horse fight over a carcass of a sheep.
Photographer Name: Fabian Muir, Zeiss Photography Award Shortlist
Series Name: Shades of Leisure in North Korea
Series Description: Mention of “North Korea” evokes a very specific mental image, dominated by military parades, the leaders, and the famine of the 1990s. Yet life there is far more layered than that, and there are many unseen sides that escape mainstream attention. In the spirit of “seeing beyond,” this series of images from all over the country depicts sides of North Korea that are rarely shown, in an attempt to go past the cliché and open unexpected perspectives to the viewer. No, life in North Korea is by no means one of constant singing, visits to the beach or fun fairs. But nor is it a constant military parade or weapons test.
To see all the winning and shortlisted images, visit the galleries at World Photography Organisation’s Zeiss Photography Award galleries.