Travel

Photographer who specialises in light painting in abandoned places

Mark O’Neill is an English photographer who specialises in light painting in abandoned places. Having spent his career travelling, Mark has explored unique, unseen spaces in different countries around the world, capturing everything from Victorian tunnels in Sheffield to wartime bunkers in France and Germany.

Mark’s interest in exploring originated at cub-scouts and from early holidays around the coast of France, where he found himself digging out buried German bunkers from the Second World War. After 15 years of shooting, he now creates artistic images with light taken at historic, abandoned locations.

A mortar bunker on the Maginot Line in France
A mortar bunker on the Maginot Line in France © Mark O’Neill

Mark’s project Underground Spaces features eye-catching images that took him to unforgettable places such as reservoirs and sewers beneath the city of London and bunkers that still remain underneath the Maginot Line in France. Mark has also documented the Grand Shaft at Dover, an 1800s triple spiral staircase designed as a defence system against mainland Europe to rapidly deploy troops, as well as the Todt Battery, built by the Germans in World War II near Cape Gris Nez in Pas de Calais.

Grand Shaft Dover
The Grand Shaft in Dover © Mark O’Neill

In terms of exploration, Mark said that one of the most unforgettable journeys was to an airbase in Željava, Croatia, where he spent three days underground at the $6 billion facility bored into the base of Plješevica Mountain, straddling the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Zeljava Air Base
Željava Air Base © Mark O’Neill

“Travel is the greatest teacher and I underestimated how much I would learn as I made my way around Europe. On my journeys I have had to confront and overcome fears to reach my vision and find ways to embrace failure and heartbreak as much as success. I have been obliged to learn about human nature itself, as well as the histories of each country and location, the politics of the region, the wildlife and the landscape,”

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