Annually, thousands flock to Stonehenge to celebrate Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. It occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the sun. Pagans and druids meet together at the ancient site to watch the sun rise above the Heel Stone, celebrating rebirth. On 20 June of this year, Kevin Faingnaert journeyed with them. With an affinity for people and places, the Belgian photographer documents subcultures, telling their untold stories. “I stood between druids, fortune tellers, pagans, Buddhists, Hare Krishna’s and tourists”, he tells us, and “as the sun rose, at around 4:52, an incredible party broke loose”.
Kevin’s intimate portraits fill us with a sense of wonder and curiosity, and the series has an overarching sense of calm. “The place was littered with photographers, and I didn’t want to make the same pictures others were making”, he tells It’s Nice That; “While most photographers focused on the sunrise itself and the activities within the inner circle, I hung around the sides — the only tranquility could be found there”. These portraits capture moments in a way that is personal rather than stolen; we seem to be invited into their world and time. Kevin achieves this by always making sure he establishes a relationship with his subjects: “everyone I met was very open to being photographed”.
“Every single person on this planet wants to understand their world”, Kevin explains, “some find their explanation in science, others in God and many in spirituality. I don’t like to think people are right or wrong”. For the photographer, visiting Stonehenge was not about mocking their beliefs or being tactlessly voyeuristic. Kevin’s work is about respecting people’s cultures and understanding that there are various ways of life – “I am glad that we do not all think the same”, he comments; “for many, they told me they felt an energy in the stones. However, I did not feel it”. It is clear from these captivating portraits that Kevin approached Stonehenge with an open-heart, acting as a vessel to transmit other’s stories.
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