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Vincent Enot’s daring idea was born during the first lockdown in 2020: to cross Iceland on foot and without assistance. Considering current climatic challenges and adopting a more responsible approach, he and his friend Arnaud Deshayes wanted to create a more sustainable and ethical journey, which aligns with the times in which we live; so they had to find an alternative to the aeroplane. Their journey took them through six countries: France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Faroe Islands and, finally, Iceland. Keeping their objective always in mind, they crossed the island on foot – 400 kilometres from north to south.

LFI: What was the idea behind your UP North project?
Vincent Enot
: The idea was to show that it is possible to travel in a different manner, more slowly; to break away from the dynamics of rapid travel. I also tried to reduce our carbon footprint on an adventure such as this, and at a destination that is hard to reach, without taking a plane. And finally, I aimed to produce a photographic story that is aesthetic and graphic, and that pays homage to black and white photography.

What was important to you to capture, photographically?
For me, the most important thing was to photograph the adventure itself: to capture as many moments and places as possible; to have a maximum of material to work with, once I returned to France; and to create the best story from my perspective. I didn't start out with a fixed idea, such as to only take pictures of landscapes or other things. What I wanted was to have photographs that express the reality of an adventure like this, while retaining a certain aestheticism.

Has the project changed your photographic approach, or the way you see the world?
Rather than changing it, I think that this project has confirmed my approach to photography and, above all, my way of taking pictures. It allowed me to understand my place within this medium, and, above all, how I love to practise it. I'm attracted to many photographic styles – street, landscapes and so on... Documentary photography brings together many of these genres, and allows me to create a story that, in my mind, is more complete.

How long did the project last, and what was the biggest challenge?
It took us a bit less than six weeks to complete the full project – the trip to Iceland, the journey on foot (13 days walking), and the return to France. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge was crossing Iceland on foot with its horrible weather conditions: at times winds of 100 km/h; rain and temperatures in the negative – what a combo. Even so, it was a pleasure to be there, in the middle of nowhere; alone, and with incredible landscapes.  

What was it like to shoot with the Leica M6 during your trip?
In my mind, it was pretty symbolic. I got my first Leica M6 a few years ago, after having seen some photo documentaries taken with a Leica; and now it's my turn to do the same thing. Having a compact, light and resistant piece of equipment enabled me to be more confident and efficient, when taking pictures during this adventure – especially with the pretty rough weather we had. For this purpose, I considered the Leica M6 and the 21mm lens were my best choice. Even though, I also think that the equipment you use should always come behind the idea you have, and not put a brake on it. (Interview: Danilo Rößger)

All images on this page: © Vincent Enot
Equipment: Leica M6 with Super-Angulon-R 21 f/4
© Louis Victor

Vincent Enot

Born in Cognac en Charente, Vincent Enot is currently based in Paris, France. He is an independent photographer, who began his professional career in 2022. His photography leads him to travel: to meet and share the universes of strangers, or environments, whisch he tries to better understand, and convey with engaged social and humanist imagery. Having grown up in an industrial environment, and then evolving in that same environment, he decided to leave everything in 2018. He moved to New Zealand, but returned to France in 2019. Since then, he continues to wander through different countries and continents, always equipped with his cameras and the bare necessities to get by.

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