Distant Shores campaign for The Organic Sheep – Morten Germund

Finalist Sony World Photo Awards 2014 - I was approached by the company “The Organic Sheep”, which is a company importing sheep-skin from Iceland and the Faroe Islands, for interior purposes.

I was approached by the company “The Organic Sheep”, which is a company importing sheep-skin from Iceland and the Faroe Islands, for interior purposes. They wanted me to shoot their new campaign and they wanted to shoot the campaign in the Faroe Islands, where the owners origins and where the culture of sheep, both as an integral part of their way of life and as a part of the landscape, are and have been very important for centuries.

Interior photography often seems concentrated around the product and a neatly decorated room, house or other indoor scene in which the product in a very concrete and often seen way are displayed.  I was uncertain on how sheep-skin, a dead product in a literary sense, would work out in a normal interior setting.  Would it be too boring, too straight forward, too classic? I knew that if we should make a campaign like this, it would be necessary to bring in life; people, animals and the Faroe Island landscapes devoured by weather. That was our first projections on the project.

We then realised that making the campaign in a traditional sense being on the Faroe Islands wouldn’t make any sense. We might as well just shoot it in Denmark in a studio. I have a bachelors degree in photojournalism, where we are told, if you write in a gun in an article you better use it or else leave it out; it just creates confusing when left out. In this case the gun was the Faroe Islands. Why go there if we’re not showing it. So we twisted it all around and began to work with the idea of instead of showing the products in a classic, disciplined way, what if we made a study of where the product were from. The fundament. The roots. What the product sense, feel, eat, see, and most importantly, where it origins. So you could say that we made a study about the Faroe Islands, the origin of the product, instead of a study in the product. I wanted to work more in the image of the product rather than showing the product. And when showing the product it should be an integral part of the landscape and surroundings. For instance the pillows becoming rocks or the blanket becoming water in the waterfall.

Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014.

Furthermore it was important to bring life to the campaign through a story-line with people; in this case the “love”-story about two young teenagers on the brink to adulthood and new ways of seeing themselves and the opposite sex. The intention of the narrative is to bring the images forward and the series to have a story-line and a thread to keep it all together. Basically we worked on three levels in this campaign; the product, the landscape and the story, which gave us greater opportunities to create a more wholesome and deep experience.

It was meant to be an old Faroese man with a big beard and sea in his eyes to be the main character, but the man we found backed out in the last second, so we had to change the plans in a rush before the shoot. That’s where we came up with the idea of this story; Inspired by a younger Romeo and Juliet. The two children are Silas Sigurdsdottir, the owner of the company’s son, and Maria Aalakjuni, who is actually the daughter to the neighbour in the town of Fuglefjord, where we were based through the shooting. A story about children on the brink to new emotions. Love before love is known.

Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014.

When shooting in the Faroe Islands you’re both blessed and cursed at the same time. The landscape are remarkable and spectacular. It’s easy to get around and the people are friendly and helpful. On the other hand the weather is very unpredictable; it changes every five minutes. We went from sun to snow in minutes. And then from rain to storm in seconds. The Faroe Islands are located in the cold Northern Sea and are in the mercy of the weather. Due to salt in the air no vegetation can really crow and withhold the harsh winds and weather shifts. It makes it difficult to plan and execute. The shoot lasted five days; three times on three different days we had to stop shooting because of insane weather. That said it was to our advantage, because we wanted to embrace and study these rough islands. And I think it shows in the pictures. For instance doing the shots in the rocky environment where Maria is dancing on a rock the temperature is 3 degrees. Though I felt sorry for the children, they really stood up for the task and made some beautiful images. We worked in a very small team because we had to move and execute fast. Me, an assistant and the models. It wouldn’t make sense to bring a bigger crew because we wouldn’t be able to control anything due to the roughness of the shifting weather. We just had to use the conditions and work through them.

Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014.

I graduated with honours from the Danish School of Journalism with a bachelors degree in photojournalism last February. It had always been my dream and goal to become a photographer and to photograph the world and the stories within. Especially focusing on the people, their living environment and their stories. I was lucky enough to be accepted to the School and BA-course, which are seen as one of the best schools of photojournalism in the world.  Furthermore, the education are a mix of school-courses and an internship for a year and a half on a national newspaper. I spent my internship as a staff photographer on the biggest Daily in Denmark, Berlingske, where I was fortunate enough to work with and learn from some of the best photojournalists in the world. At the same time it offered a variety of opportunities in which direction of photography you wanted to go.  I did a lot of reportage and magazine photography on the paper, which gave me important experience and room for development in my own photography. I’ve been so fortunate to receive awards and recognition the last few years on my work; for instance in Pictures of the Year Internationally 2012 (Poyi.org); I was honoured with a runner-up as Newspaper photographer of the Year and was still at that time a student; I think that’s never happened before in that contest. I do hope that I’ll be able to continue to make stories and pictures that make an impact on viewers; Make them feel. I’m very humbled by living my dream as a photographer; I hope that it shines through in my images. And being young when it comes to making a living out of it; I hope that I’ll get new and exciting opportunities in the future.

Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014.

When it comes to photography I’m deeply focused on bringing poetry and emotions into my images. Poetry is the small pieces that shows life. Real life. The second of an eye before it blinks, the lips almost a smile, the tear not yet formed, the inner thought before spoken. Photography states more than a thousand words and if it’s done correctly and ethical, by its sole appearance, removes any disturbance from it’s content. I focus on working in and on the detail of emotion, humanbeing and content rather than force false intentions into the images. I wish to make images that are truthful and authentic without lying; a campaign shouldn’t look like any other thing than a campaign nor shouldn’t a reportage tell another story than what it depicts. My goal in photography is to be honest and not look down on the viewer.

What I want to convey to the viewers are poetry and emotion; to give them an experience. In this case with “Distant Shores”; a story about love, a place, a thought…. [Official Website]

Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014.

Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014. Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014. Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014.

Campaign for The Organic Sheep. Finalist in Sony World Photo Awards 2014.

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