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.

The Beat

Now thanks to The Beat, you can search hashtags of Instagram photos and be presented with the Google Street View location where that photo was tagged.

Why? Do we really want to see where hipsters are posting their polarized food photos from?

The concept of this is OK, I guess. I just can’t see when people would need this, then again there’s a lot of useless websites on the internet. If the intentions were for a fun quirky site that you visit once a month to show your friends while you’re bored, then they’ve accomplished that!

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.

Serge Maes – Ambiguous City

Although this may just look like street photography, Serge Maes is engaging with his environment to gain something from what we would look past. Photographing the little things in life, you may say.

Serge Maes

He stated the images were not to tell a story but more to show the viewer how he perceives the world through his camera.

This is something I need to focus more on, engaging with my surroundings more and becoming more free with the camera. At the moment I am quite reserved and look for objects to create images and spending a significant amount of time producing a photo from this scene. Maes’ approach is aspiring to me, in that I need to let go and capture my surroundings as they are, naturally as we first see them.


There’s only so much you can talk about wanting to do something and photograph more like someone, and then there’s actual production and going out and shooting.

Trish Morrissey – Front

Her work ‘Front’ was a series where she invaded families on a beach and swapped herself in for the matriarchal figure (mother; female in the group).


The beach is a public area, in a sense that anyone can enter and stay on one, with little limitations, but the areas that we, the public, inhabit almost become our private little sections. We guard them, make them our own with blankets, use wind breaks as barriers against other families. Morrissey discards this social paradigm and becomes apart of their family, for a short period of time in the sense of the physical ‘in person’ but, also, she immortalises herself with the family in the form of the photograph.

This immortalisation through photographs was usually limited to how long the physical print would last, but now thanks to the digital revolution it feels a little more indefinite, or at least until we have a power cut.

I’ve always had the impression that Morrissey escapes her own life, through her work, by taking on the roles of other people, such as her ‘Seven Years’, where she dressed up as her parents and recreated old family photos.