In Antony Sojka‘s photo essay “Tide,” the young photographer documents the people and landscapes of the Halligen, a group of ten small islands in the German North Sea. Each Hallig, a singular small island, is home to two to 100 residents, and possesses no protective dikes, creating an isolating and precarious landscape for its inhabitants.
Sojka, who is based in Berlin, began visiting the Halligen every other month over the course of 2013 for his final thesis at Ostkreuz School for Photography. “The begining was hard and disappointing because nobody wanted to talk to me. In their eyes I was an intruder,” Sojka says. He began taking photos of landscapes and seascapes, sometimes during stormy weather, and residents began watching him from their homes. Eventually, he says, they began to approach him to ask what he was doing, and he was able to break the ice and begin taking portraits. The key, he discovered, was to ask for his subjects to recommend him to another person on the Hallig.
Despite their vastly different lifestyles, Sojka found that he and the residents shared an affection for solitude. He says, “I’m not talking about being alone for yourself, but being alone with the people you love. It is something very beautiful.” Sojka believes it is a universal feeling, and he references a quote by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke that he often thought about while visiting the Halligen: “It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it.”
“Tide” was recognized in the Student category in the 2014 PDN Photo Annual, and was additionally honored with the Duggal Image Maker Award at the Photo Annual party in New York City. The 2015 PDN Photo Annual is currently open for submissions, with a first deadline of February 3. Please visit the website for more information. – Jacqui Palumbo