I’ve always loved photographing forgotten buildings and sites, exploring history through what remains, long after the people who once occupied the spaces have gone. There is a beauty in the stillness of these places, in the colours and textures, the randomness and nature reclaiming what is man made.
Matt Emmett is a British heritage photographer, who in my opinion, has captured some truly stunning images of derelict buildings and sites across the UK, but also abroad. Discover more of his work at Forgotten Heritage and on Facebook.
In 2007 I took a series of photographs of Haugasetra, the site of my great aunt Beret’s summer pasture on Ertvågøya, a small island off the west coast of Norway. The photographs were all taken with a medium format film camera and developed by myself. Together with a poem by Beret they formed part of a photography exhibition held in Leicester, June 2007.
During the summer Beret would walk up to the pasture every evening to milk her cows, separate the milk to make rømme (sour cream) and churn butter. She would stay overnight in a small log cabin and sell sour cream to local visitors.
Visiting Haugasetra brings back memories of still summer nights sitting on the bed with the fire crackling, listening to Beret tell stories. Her notebook lies on the table, the stones she collected on the window sill. Now there is a quiet, calm silence and a familiar scent of timber, ash and mountain grass.
Ertvågøya, once a thriving farming and fishing community, is now in rapid decline as younger generations move away to find employment. With the advancement in technology, old traditions and ways of life are being forgotten and valuable knowledge lost. Haugasetra has remained empty for a number of years and the traditional methods of farming have all ceased.
My photographs record evidence of the past in the hope that, one day, future generations will be able to trace their legacy.
Aside from their beauty, I believe heritage photographs can play an important role in providing a record of buildings and sites of historical interest, before they are lost forever.