At first glance, Sergio Figliolia appears to have photographed quiet areas with carefully lit lampposts. Until you read his concept behind it.


He argues that the lamposts are ‘the only incarnation of public services’. He argues that the light is an ongoing battle between humans and nature, each lamppost is like a safe refuge. He goes on to say the lampposts are like flags we humans have placed in victory after completing a short conquest over the dark.

Figliolia’s approach to production is inspiring to me. I can almost see his thought process in his head. He obviously sees lampposts a lot and began to create a metaphor for them, like alternate symbol. He then went out and captured the common lampposts in desolate areas to accentuate his new symbolism. Then with the accompanying words he reinforces his thoughts on the subject.

This is definitely something I need to develop in my work: creating the back story behind the photographs. Something to trigger different emotions from the images and/or reinforce what is already apparent within them.


Street Ghosts

In a nutshell, Paolo Cirio, spotted silhouettes of people on Google maps’ Street View, printed them life sized and stuck them on the wall closest to where they were originally captured by the Google car.


Probably the first thing that comes to your mind is ethics. How is it ethically correct for Google to display images, without consent, of us in the public realm? At least they blur out faces though, that makes it all ok right?
Or, how is it ethically correct to print out images of people without consent, even if their faces are censored? Well thanks to Google publishing them to the public realm, there isn’t much you can do. Anyone can access these photos.

Paolo Cirio, using Google’s free online mapping service, took screenshots of random people and blew them up to make life sized cut outs which he then pasted onto walls in the original location spotted on Google Maps’ Street View.

This is touching on the fact that it is impossible to photograph streets, during the day, without people occupying them. The world we live in is massively inhibited and overflowing with humans, so much so that we can’t walk down the street without seeing another person. Google had to adapt to this by censoring people’s faces, a simpler solution to photoshoping them out completely.


Cirio is questioning if we actually accept being photographed by Google, as we never signed any disclaimers or were never approached for us to decline.
By posting these photos, Cirio is hoping the subject returns to the same spot and sees themselves. What would you do if you saw yourself printed onto a wall of the corner shop you pass every day?

On the other hand, I have friends who embraced their shot on Street View, so much so they used it as their social media’s profile pictures.
I guess it comes into another debate about background ethics, age and the media affecting them. Put loosely, the elder generation tend to be more reserved about social media engagement compared to younger people.

Carabanchel Prison

Prisons, Hospitals and Masions have always had a distinct eerie presence about them, once  they have been vacated and left to rot. There is also a large influx of Urban Explorer’s content surrounding these types of buildings, which has inevitably diluted the impact of the buildings through photographic presentation.

Jean-Yves Gargadennec visited Carabanchel prison, Madrid, and had a guided tour which provoked feelings similar to that of the previous inmates: “I felt confined by the repetition of bars and doors”.

carabanchel prison

The clean, minimal editing approach to documenting this building is refreshing, compared to the numerous filters, high contrast and HDR effects Urban Explorers use. Gargadennec captured the raw feeling with method, using a box camera.

Gargadennec not only photographed the building and its rooms in a simple documentary format, but he went further than the typical Urban Explorers method and met some of the victims of the prisoners. This gave a lot mroe feeling and depth to the series of images, in comparison to Urban Explorers standing in their own photos, or photographing each other.


It seems Gargadennec wanted to express the initial feelings he felt, upon visiting the prison, with his audience rather than just photographing an abandonned building for personal pleasure, and using the images as accolades to show off their explorations.

Harsent Looks At Unoccupied Spaces

Simon Harsent is a photographer I’ve just discovered and fell in love with immediately. His work is so simple, yet always provides enough intrigue from a single image to explore more of his projects.

His project Beautiful Games focuses on the empty football pitches after match days and some disused pitches; their emptiness is emphasised with irregular compositions.



These spaces are usually completely forgotten about until that hour and a half where 22 men run around (debatable, they’re usually diving on the floor) with a ball. Fans often comment on the atmosphere being incomparable to watching at home from your screen. I wonder if this is the same for the atmosphere Harsent experienced when capturing these action-less spaces.

I’ve found from looking at unoccupied spaces, there always seems to be an eerie atmosphere. Personally, I feel this is subconscious because I’ve researched, prior to visiting, the past of the space and buildings I’m visiting, and I’m very skeptical about paranormal activities.

Symbolism Through Animals

Karen Knorr’s ‘Indian Song’ is a series of images in elegant Indian buildings, almost empty apart from a, different, single animal in each image.


In the animal kingdom each animal symbolises different things, for example lions are represented as proud and majestic, according to Buddhism.

Using objects instead of people may be a route to explore more in my project exploring occupying spaces, as people represent inhabitation, and some images may be more powerful without humans and single objects. These objects, holding certain connotations, will trigger different things with my audience rather than filling the frame with a person.

Although, Bruce Lee once said “The usefulness of the cup is its emptiness”. so maybe if I fill my frame with people and/or objects it’s wasted, but I leave it empty it leaves the audiences imagination to run free from my guidance and restrictions.

Colourful Fields

Aerial photographs have been taken of tulip fields in the Netherlands.



Similar ethics surround the concept of private vs public land. My assumption is that crops and farm land are private land, although, the sky less so private giving the opportunity to fly over and take photographs.

This debate appears to be quite silly though, I mean these tulips look beautiful and the photos display that. So why is it seen as OK to shoot these but for frowned upon for urban exploration photographs? After all it’s just different people’s views on what an amazing photograph is, and the subtle difference that one is trespassing and the other is flying over fields.

JR and José Parla – Wrinkles of the City

JR and Jose Parla collaborated and produced 25 portraits of old people. Although, not portraits like you’ve seen them before. ‘Wrinkles of the City’ is a series of portraits captured and printed to a huge scale and then wheat pasted onto the sides of walls and abandoned buildings.


The chosen exhibiting method for these photos is perfect, the dilapidated buildings provide perfect emphasis for the subjects. They are old, wrinkly and may look on their last legs, but they are still standing. Their wrinkles are metaphors for the urban texture and history.

With reference to Banksy, street artist JR has taken it to another level of size and such a longer process than spraying cartoons through a stencil. Where Banksy exhibited his political propaganda through this medium, JR and José Parla presented us with old relics of the city that have still withstood through the vast socio-economic changes.

Each subject captured had a story, detailed in the published book, about how Havana, Cuba, has changed over time. Some images were pasted in random spaces, others in relation to heritage of the city, and others to a certain area the subject was explaining during their interview and portrait with JR.

There will be a documentary film ‘in 2013’ (very definitive of a time..) about the project.