Enri Canaj « Albanian Homecoming

Albania is a small country in the heart of the Balkans. Despite its rich culture, people outside do generally not know much about it. It is also my homeland, the place of my early childhood. I grew up seperated from it, and returned later to pick up the threads that were left behind. 

What I found was modernity and tradition living together. I traveled a lot and started to know my birthplace, the people, their mentality, and their traditions. I felt very welcome, and was fascinated by all the people I met. They were kind, friendly and curious about my work.

I made this journey together with my wife. When people realized we were a couple, they were very open, they welcomed us inside their homes and extended wishes, blessings and congratulations. Marriage is very important in Albania. Everyone has to get married, it is considered to make men stronger and more respected in society.

In this photographic project I would like to show the everyday lives of Albanian people – the big picture, as well as the small, seemingly insignificant moments. What impressed me most was the strong family union, the connection among people. I found it everywhere – in married young couples and their babies, at a funeral ceremony where relatives shared their pain, at a wedding party, or when a son accompanied his father at work. I didn’t see any lonely people. 

–Enri Canaj

 

Enri Canaj (b. 1980, Tirana, Albania)
moved with his family to Greece at the age of 11, immediately after the opening of the borders. He is based in Athens and covers stories relating to Greece and the Balkans.

Canaj studied photography at the Leica Academy in Athens, and took part in a British Council project on migration, attending a year-long workshop with Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos. Since 2008, he has been a freelance photographer for major Greek publications such as TO VIMA, TA NEA, Tachydromos and VIMAGAZINO. His work has been exhibited at the National Bank of Greece in Athens and Salonica, at the Bilgi Santral in Istanbul, the European Parliament in Brussels and the Athens Photo Festival.