Signs that read like “No entry,” “Access Strictly Prohibited,” or “Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted” are for the average citizen a sign that a certain facility is not to be explored. Those warnings — often times a good deterrent against thieves and vandals — do nothing but whet the appetite of Matt Emmett, an urban heritage photographer. The practice Emmett is specialized in — of which he is a master in fact — is known as urban exploration, or ruin photography, a field of photography that is gathering popularity year after year.
Ignoring the Warnings Yields Great Returns
For those brave souls that ignore the warnings and climb fences and gates, usually the rewards are worth the risk: Enormous industrial spaces that feel more like alien landscapes, decadent residential buildings surrendering to the unstoppable advance of nature, and more.
Photographer Matt Emmett’s Peculiar Mission
Emmet is a talented photographer from the UK. His project — called Forgotten Heritage Photography — is an original, peculiar mission to shoot off-limit, hidden locations around the world.
Of course, Emmett always does his best to seek permission by the owners of the different facilities before intruding himself into the remote sites. However, the photographer often finds himself in the position to have to climb and jump fences and obstacles of various nature to get his pictures done.
“For some, just getting inside a location to experience this alternative form of sightseeing, is enough to satiate the desire to go where the powers that be tell us we shouldn’t. But for others there is a need to capture the spirit of a location in words and pictures, giving others a metaphorical ‘leg-up’ over the fences and to walk them through the debris and rubble…”
The photographer continues:
“…I fall into the latter of these groups, travelling regularly to places in the UK and in Europe, seeking out vast power stations and their cooling towers, steel works, mines, bunkers, tunnels, schools, engine sheds, hotels, castles and a myriad of other buildings. All have their own stories to tell in a variety of voices, and without the distraction, sounds and people who inhabited them, those stories are clear and strong and the character of the building is laid bare.”
Two Years of Work Produces a Vast Collection
As you’ll be able to explore shortly, Emmett committed work in the past two years has produced a large collection of intriguing pieces of photography. The striking imagery presented below comes from sites like abandoned underground military facilities, steel plants, ancient castles, decadent libraries, etc.
More press on Emmett’s work:
- Capturing Transience: Urban Exploration Photography
- 15 minutes: Interview with Matt Emmett of Forgotten Heritage Photography
Large Wind Tunnel Latest Effort by Emmet
One of the most recent works by Emmett took place in the the interior of an extensive wind tunnel complex that has been locked from public view for the past 40 years. Some of these images are presented below.
Emmett, however, has many more planned locations to visit and photograph over the next few months. You can follow Emmett either via the Forgotten Heritage Photography project on Facebook, or via the following Flickr page, where he seems to be quite active with posting new photos.