Chris M. Forysth notices the details that most of us would miss on our daily commutes: bold colors, simple geometric shapes, gorgeous architecture. The Canada-based photographer has spent years photographing the beauty of transit systems in his series, The Metro Project.
We recently caught up with him to learn more about the project and his best tips for improving your photography skills.
Could you tell me about the inspiration behind The Metro Project?
The Metro Project was initially inspired by my commutes throughout Montreal’s metro system. At the time, I was regularly spending a lot of time underground going to and from school. Passing through the same stations day after day, I began to notice architectural details that I enjoyed and would try to visually frame them. After a while, I decided to photograph what I had been seeing. After years of photographing Montreal’s system, I decided to extend the project abroad.
What do you hope people learn or feel when they see photos from the project?
The main thing that I would like people to take away from my photos is an appreciation for these spaces. Metro systems, at least in my experience, tend to get a bad rap as being dingy and unappealing. On the contrary, they’re full of amazing design and history that is so often overlooked. Looking at photographs teaches you how to see in different ways, and that’s what I’d like for people to take from my work.
Most of your metro station photos don't have any people in them. What's your trick for capturing empty stations?
The trick to capturing these very busy places free of people is knowing when they’re more quiet, being very patient, and framing smaller areas when possible. I often photograph between the morning and afternoon rush hours, right in the middle of the day. It’s surprisingly quiet in these stations whilst everyone’s at work. Furthermore, I always photograph on a tripod which allows me to get my framing just right and stand back until the scene has cleared, which can take quite a while in certain circumstances. Lastly, the smaller the space you frame, the better the odds you’ll have at catching it free of commuters.
When did you first become interested in photography?
I’m not too certain when exactly I got into photography, but I usually say only about five years ago now. However, I grew up skateboarding, and in that community documentation is really ingrained in the culture so experimentation with cameras became second nature early on.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a photographer?
The biggest challenge I face as a photographer while working underground is finding new ways to compose spaces that thousands upon thousands of people pass through and see everyday. As a photographer in general, my biggest challenge is finding new subjects that could potentially support extensive photographing and research. It’s all about finding the right idea, and the appropriate approach.
What advice do you have for newbie photographers who are interested in capturing places?
My main advice for learning to better capture places is to spend a lot of time looking. Look at a lot of photographs of similar spaces from other photographers to understand how others see, and spend a lot of time just walking around the place you intend to photograph getting a sense of everything around you before even taking out a camera. Try to see the space from every possible angle simply by moving around and aligning things with your eyes. It’s all about learning to see, and a lot of the process doesn’t even require a camera, it just requires looking.