go to content

Laetitia Vancon

These Photos Show How Young People Live On Scotland's Stark And Beautiful Islands

A photographer has explored the communities on the Outer Hebridean Isles in the northernmost reaches of Scotland.

Posted on

French photojournalist Laetitia Vancon has been visiting communities in the Outer Hebridean Isles since January 2016, seeking to understand how the islands' young people relate to their remote home, and to the rest of the world.

The project, called At the End of the Day, features adults aged 18 to 35, some of whom have settled permanently in the place of their birth, and others who are seeking to leave for new work and social opportunities.

Vancon explains: “At the age of 18, the lack of opportunities leave these youths facing a fork in the road: What now? Which direction to take? What is left to hang on to? Are these isles really the paradise we perceive them to be? Or rather, an escape from the dissatisfying, overdeveloped, uprooted, and unanchored reality of the modern world?

“In a world which is becoming increasingly globalised, uniform, and dematerialised, the isles, in their sincerity, simplicity, and authenticity, represent in the collective unconscious, a peace haven ... In these isles one finds a well preserved microcosm, where the experience of isolation has a magnifying effect on these exceptional – albeit fragile – spaces.”

Vancon's bold and intimate photos show the stark Hebridean mountains, moors, and shorelines, and the young people who inhabit them, including an aspiring actor, a mental health nurse seeking training in mainland Scotland, and a shepherd who feels the rest of the world is detached from common sense.

Danielle MacGillivray, 26, with her son Peter, 4

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Danielle MacGillivray is seen with her 4-year-old son, Peter, who she raises alone. Danielle has multiple sclerosis (MS). She still lives on the island of Benbecula, where she grew up, and is a voluntary firefighter.



Stornoway Harbour

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

The population of Stornoway is around 8,000, making it the largest town in the Hebrides. It contains a third of the population of the civil parish of Stornoway, which includes various nearby villages and has a population of approximately 12,000. Stornoway is an important port and the major town and administrative centre of the Outer Hebrides.


Connor and Rowan, 18

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Connor (right) plans to leave for Glasgow in 2017 to attend theatre school. Rowan (centre) left for Glasgow in September 2016 to study.


Niall and Callum, aged 24

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Niall (left) and Callum are best friends. Niall works as a diver on a boat in charge of the maintenance of coastal facilities. Callum works at the reception of the sociocultural

center of the Isle of Lewis. Previously he had a singing career in Glasgow.


Twin brothers James and Kevin Anderson, 35

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Twin brothers James (left) and Kevin Anderson are seen wearing the traditional kilt. James works for a construction company and is a father of two. Kevin is a fisherman.


Scott MacRury, 28, postman, tweed weaver, and shepherd

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Scott MacRury owns a croft, or small farm. When he is not a postman, or weaving tweed in his garage, he takes care of his herd of sheep that roam the moors around the home he grew up in. He is married and looking forward to becoming a father. Scott finds it difficult to understand ways of life seen outside the Outer Hebridean Isles, finding it detached from common sense.


Holly Pearson, 18

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Holly plans to leave the Isle of Lewis for Glasgow in 2016 to continue her studies to become a mental health nurse. She hopes to one day return to Lewis to find work in her field.


Calumm, 24

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Callum is seen swimming between the coast of the island of Barra and Kisimul Castle. The castle was abandoned in 1838 when the island was sold. Some of its stone was used as ballast for fishing vessels, and some was used as paving in Glasgow. The remains of the castle, along with most of the island of Barra, were purchased in 1937 by Robert Lister MacNeil, the then-chief of Clan MacNeil, who made efforts at restoration.


Holly and Calumm

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Holly Pearson and Callum, pictured at Calumm's parents' home on the Isle of Lewis. Calumm plans to stay on the island, whilst Holly wants to leave for her studies.


Keith MacDonald, 28

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Keith MacDonald is building his own little wooden house near a large property owned by his family in North Uist. Keith works at a salmon farm, which is owned by Norway, for six months of each year and then travels as widely as possible.


Connor Clarke, 18

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Connor Clarke has lived in a caravan with his parents for two years, while they wait for their house to be built. Connor came out two years ago and faced prejudice from some members of the largely conservative community. His family and friends are very important to him, but he wants to leave the Isle of Lewis, a place he describes as a cage and too small for him. He will finish high school in 2016 and leave for Glasgow. He plans to become an actor.


Scott Matheson, 25, a game keeper on the island of South Uist

Laetitia Vancon / vanconlaetitia.com

Scott Matheson's work as a gamekeeper on the island of South Uist is a demanding job due to the often hostile weather conditions. He is also under pressure from the community to protect the crofts in the area; the small farms that hold livestock.


Matt Tucker is the UK picture editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Tucker at matthew.tucker@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.