Hans van der Meer

European Fields

In 1988 a pile of old black and white football photographs inspired dutch photographer, Hans van der Meer, to embark on a decade-long journey across Europe. Despite van der Meer having famous locations such as the Nou Camp and Old Trafford to choose from, his project was 'as far away as possible from the Champions League.' Whilst modern day football idolises global superstars in expensive stadiums, European Fields returns to the grass-roots of just 22 people on a pitch.

Each of van der Meer's images is taken from a similar high viewpoint, which positions the pitch in the foreground. The actual match is incidental to the landscape in the background. For example the players in Celerina, Switzerland, are dwarfed by the mountains that tower behind them. Meanwhile, in Perafita, Portugal, the chimneys of an industrial plant are an imposing backdrop to the bare pitch near to the camera.

 

All of the paraphernalia and sponsorship associated with the elite footballing leagues is absent from these images. Instead, there is a great sense of space in these European fields. The lack of supporters also reinforces the fact that the players are playing because of their love of the game, rather than the desire to perform in front of others. This is emphasised by the way van der Meer has accentuated the landscape.

The location I have chosen for my Transitions assignment includes areas for sports fixtures. Throughout the year these activities change between football, rugby and cricket. I am wondering whether I can illustrate transition through how the landscape is used. Hans van der Meer's style has enabled me to identify how I could photograph such a scene as a landscape image rather than a sports action one. 

Reference

http://www.hansvandermeer.nl/projects/europeanfields# [Accessed 19/4/15]