What Living off the Grid in Europe Looks Like 

The Photo Blog
June 16 2014 12:37 PM

What Living off the Grid in Europe Looks Like 

The Pyrenees, France, 2012.

Antoine Bruy

Photographer Antoine Bruy’s ongoing series, “Scrublands,” is part travelogue, part documentary, and part myth. It started in 2010, when Bruy found work on a farm in Australia through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), a network that places volunteers on organic farms. “When I was in Australia I wanted to experience the landscape and the territory, the outback, and WWOOFing was the perfect way for me to get into the life of people who were living there,” he said.

Bruy, who grew up in urban France, became fascinated by the self-sufficient, off-the-grid lifestyle he experienced and resolved to see more of it while documenting it with his camera. Using the WWOOF network, Bruy has lived on remote farms all across Europe, from Spain to Switzerland to Romania, staying anywhere from two weeks to three months at a time. “Most of the farmers had been living in big cities and I really respect their decision to say, ‘This is not my thing and I can't live this way anymore.’ I think there are a lot of people thinking this way but few making the steps to change. I was interested in how they managed to live another way,” he said.

Jost, Alps, Switzerland, 2013.

Antoine Bruy

Composting toilet, Sierra Nevada, Spain, 2013.

Antoine Bruy

Julian working on a bathtub, Sierra del Hacho, Spain, 2013.

Antoine Bruy

A tipi, the Pyrenees, France, 2012.

Antoine Bruy

Olivier nursing a sheep, Ardèche, France, 2010.

Antoine Bruy

While they all aspire to some degree of self-sufficiency, Bruy’s subjects represent a range of experiences. Some live without electricity or running water, while others are equipped with most modern conveniences. Bruy isn’t necessarily concerned with finding the most extreme cases. Instead, he’s interested in capturing a variety of people who have chosen alternative lifestyles. “Some of them would say they’re 30 percent self-sufficient or they’re 60 percent self-sufficient. It's very hard to check those numbers. The most important thing, for me, was the intention,” he said.


Bruy doesn’t identify himself as a photographer when he starts working on a farm. His first concern is getting a taste of the life there and getting to know the people. “I don’t want to arrive as a photographer. First, I want to meet the people, enjoy the lifestyle and give a hand. If we make a connection, then we can start making pictures,” he said.

While those pictures do capture real people and places, they’re very much shaped by Bruy’s desire to create a specific and unified aesthetic vision. “'I’m trying to find pictures which give a feeling of being out of reality somehow and out of time,” he said. “In a lot of these places, there are sometimes computers and televisions but I don’t want to show them in the pictures. I want to tell a story.”

A yurt, Sierra Nevada, Spain, 2013.

Antoine Bruy

A view of El Pardal, Sierra de Cazorla, Spain, 2013.

Antoine Bruy

Urs, the Pyrenees, France, 2012.

Antoine Bruy

Landscape with a red car, Sierra de Cazorla, Spain, 2013.

Antoine Bruy

Inside a geodesic dome, Sierra del Hacho, Spain, 2013.

Antoine Bruy



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

Walmart Is Crushing the Rest of Corporate America in Adopting Solar Power

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.