Melanie MacDonald, 22, photographed on the Isle of Lewis
On Scottish Islands, a Generation Caught Between Past and Future
Laetitia Vancon intimately portrays young Scots in island communities that are gradually losing their inhabitants.
A quick online search of the Western Isles, also known as the Outer Hebrides, reveals no shortage of dreamy imagery. The region, west of the Scottish mainland, is branded by travel agencies as an otherworldly paradise with untamed shorelines under vast, open sky. It is one of the few places where Scottish Gaelic is still dominant.
Given this reputation, it took French photographer Laetitia Vancon by surprise when she read The Stornoway Way, an autobiographical novel by Scottish writer Kevin McNeil. The author portrayed the Western Isles as an isolated place where people struggle with alcoholism and entropy. The stark contrast between the two narratives—one seen in McNeil’s book and one presented on the pages of tourism booklets—led Vancon there herself.