A black and white approach to the Faroe Islands
By Bjarni Mohr
Maybe you’ve seen them – the colorful pictures of the Faroe Islands on different online sites, blogs and other social media.
Last year the tourist board, VisitFaroeIslands, launched a massive campaign urging people to share their colorful pictures of the Faroe Islands. The reason for the campaign was to further extend the massive growth in the tourism industry they’ve experienced during the last two-three years.
Located between Scotland and Iceland, the islands can be beautiful in vivid colors during the spring and summer, but the archipelago can also be beautiful in black and white. In my opinion, there are too many photos made of the Faroe Islands which have been over post-processed, giving an unnatural impression of this area.
A year ago, this thought provoked me to only shoot the Faroe Islands in black and white, mainly because I think it’s gotten out of hand with all the photoshopped pictures presenting the country as being so colorful. Yes, it can be colorful in the spring and summertime but not quite as colorful as we sometimes see in pictures.
One other reason for me to only shoot black and white now is my intention to fulfill a photographic dream: Either to do a 365-project (one photo each day) documenting daily life here in the Faroe Islands or a documentary book with portraits of ordinary Faroese people. I started shooting black and white to teach myself to “see” in black and white before I kick off one of these projects.
The decision to only shoot black and white while photographing landscape and nature was a challenge for me, since the main focus of photographers in shooting landscapes in the Faroe Islands is because of the colors. B/W photography changed the way I see nature here.
Don’t get me wrong. The Faroe Islands are beautiful in color, but they are also beautiful in black and white. With the color subtracted from the photos, I find myself looking at the scenery in nature in a completely different way than I did before.
The weather can change rapidly here. In one single day you could experience all four seasons of the year. While this can be challenging for a photographer, it also opens opportunities for some good nature photography which you could never get if the weather wasn’t changing so rapidly.
The changing weather has changed my initial intentions many times. Sometimes I head out mountain hiking with specific plans. When I’m home again, the final pictures turn out to be the last thing I expected when I headed out to shoot. This is what makes it exciting to shoot landscape here.
We can’t brag about having the highest mountains, but overall it’s a steep country. While the highest mountain is only 882 meters high, on average the land is 300 meters above sea level. The country consists of 18 islands, is home to 49,000 people, and at no point are you more than three miles from the ocean.
A year ago when I started to photograph nature on the Faroe Islands in black and white, I had many doubts about my success after I kicked off the project. This was mostly because the norm are those extremely colorful and sometimes overdriven pictures of the country.
Light is always important when photographing, but quickly after I abandoned color photography and kicked off my B/W project, I suddenly re-discovered what a teacher taught me on my first photography course during the winter of 1986-1987: Just how important light is to photography.
If you should be heading to the Faroe Islands to photograph, let me know. Maybe we could do some combined hiking and shooting together. Contact me here: Bjarni Mohr on Facebook
Greetings from the Faroe Islands.
About Bjarni Mohr
Bjarni Mohr is 42 years old. He’s living in Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. Bjarni holds a BA degree in Online Journalism from Danish School of Media and Journalism in Denmark.
He is working as online editor at The Faroese Broadcasting Corporation. One of his passions is photography, which he’s enjoyed for the last 20 years or so. He’s now a dedicated Leica photographer, shooting both film and digital, after he’d been shooting with Canon, Nikon and Fuji for the last 20 years.