Metro mania: Chris Forsyth captures Europe's overlooked underground spaces
Continuing his quest to capture the ‘overlooked’ beauty of the metro system, Montreal-based photographer Chris Forsyth has recently completed the next installment of his award-winning metro series. Including Munich, Berlin and Stockholm, as well as smaller sets of Hamburg and Prague, the new Europe edition is a follow up to his evocative 'Montreal Metro' series, which captured worldwide attention and earned the now 20-year old a 2015 International Photographer of the Year award.
With the recent release of his Munich series, Wallpaper* caught up with the young photographer to find out more.
Wallpaper*: Tell us a little about your background
Chris Forsyth: I’m a Montreal‐based photographer with a passion for metro architecture. I’m just about to enter my final year in the Professional Photography Program at Dawson College, here in Montreal. I really got into photography only a few years ago when I discovered the joy of exploring Montreal and photographing cityscapes. In addition to the series winning a number of awards, Simons – a large Canadian clothing company – used my metro work as a backdrop for their lookbook.
Remind us of the origins of the 'Montreal Metro' series
The 'Montreal Metro' project began in October of 2014 as an academic project. At the time I was in my first semester at Dawson. I was given an assignment encouraging me to explore a type of photography that interested me. In my case, I loved architecture photography. So I took to the metro system because it was what I knew. Taking it every day to and from school, I began to know the ins and outs of certain stations very well. Passing through them, I would try to compose photos in my head, and when the assignment came about it was a great motivator to begin the series. After that semester, I continued the series as a passion project because I enjoyed exploring the stations so much. As a result of the way that the system was designed – each station has its own unique architect – no two stations are the same. As such, it’s very easy to hop on a train and see something entirely different from stop to stop.
Why did you decide to continue the metro series in Europe? When and for how long did you shoot these next cities?
Following the enjoyment I had photographing Montreal’s metros so thoroughly, I began to research metro systems around the world. A few networks really stood out to me. After a lot of planning, I traveled to Munich in May of 2016. I only had four days to explore the network of 96 stations. From there I headed to Berlin and finally Stockholm, with a couple of short stops in-between. In all, I spent 14 days spread between five cities, spending over 100 hours photographing metro stations.
What does this latest series illustrate?
With my metro series, I hope to show how beautiful these public spaces can be. Traveling through these stations day in and day out can become very monotonous. Looking ahead, or down at our phones, we can easily take for granted all of the gorgeous architecture, art and design around us. This project is my way of showing my appreciation for these overlooked spaces. I also hope to encourage others to photograph and share how they see the stations through which they travel. It’s always inspiring to see how others see their surroundings.
How has the series evolved?
Over the past year, the project as a whole has grown quite a bit. Not only has it evolved on my end, but more and more people have begun to share their metro photos too! When the series started, I began to share my photos on Instagram using #mtlmetroproject. Over time, Montrealers and visitors alike joined in sharing their photos, creating a more diverse archive of Montreal metro shots. With my European photos, I started #themetroproject to share my international images. With any luck, I hope to start a worldwide collection with photographers, architecture lovers and metro enthusiasts around the globe.
Do you plan to continue with the series? What’s next for you?
There are dozens of systems out there I hope to photograph over the years to come. From Moscow and London to Washington DC and Naples, there’s just so much out there to see. The series is definitely only just beginning, and I’m very eager to keep it growing.