Haunting Visions of the Sprawling American West – Feature Shoot                 ­    

French photographer Emmanuel Monzon thinks living in the United States is like living inside a painting. In his meticulously crafted American scenes, all humans have vacated the premises, leaving behind only the background they once inhabited.

The Urban Sprawl photographs picture what the artist calls the “in-between” places on the outskirts of cities, mostly in the West. These sites are comparable to what the French anthropologist Marc Augé dubbed “non-places.” This isn’t a point on the map so much as it is the ambiguous gap separating point A from point B.

Monzon isn’t affected by the same sense of nostalgia that seems to drive so many photographers; he isn’t precious about his work, but he is painstaking and precise. His process is methodical, involving hours upon hours of driving, framing, shooting, and starting over from the beginning until everything is exactly right.

Patrick di Nola, when judging a contest for Life Farmer, wrote the following of Monzon’s images: “The blandness becomes vivid.” It’s true; in these square frames, the mundane glitters.

Monzon is serious about not projecting his emotions onto these manmade landscapes— “In my artwork there is no judgment,” he writes— but the great paradox of his work lies in the fact that the pictures are somehow filled with feeling.

The photographer says the theme that binds his images is their “emptiness.” What is absent matters just as much as what’s present, but that doesn’t mean the pictures are lonely, though they have often been described as such. No, for those who dare to find it, there’s genuine surprise and delight to be found in the void, and that’s what makes Urban Sprawl so special.                         ­

Ellyn Kail

Follow Emmanuel Monzon on Instagram.

About Feature Shoot/Press                     ­

Feature Shoot showcases the work of international emerging and established photographers who are transforming the medium through compelling, cutting-edge projects. With contributing writers from all over the world and a wide range of interests, we feature contemporary work in all genres of photography: fine art, documentary, portrait, still life, landscape and more. We believe that photography is a powerful mode of storytelling, and share works that have a strong narrative vision. Started in 2008 by Alison Zavos, Feature Shoot has now amassed an archive of over 4,000 posts of exceptional photography from around the globe.

In addition to running daily posts about new and ongoing photographic series, we also run exclusive interviews with artists, themed group shows and reviews of current exhibitions.

We have a strong sense of professional integrity, and contact each photographer and ask permission to run their images before publishing our features. However, if you see something on Feature Shoot that’s misattributed or that you would like removed, please contact us at featureshoot(at)gmail(dot)com.

The desk of Alison Zavos, Founder and Editor-in-Chief


Alison Zavos is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Feature Shoot and an occasional photography curator. She is also an active member of the photography community, reviewing portfolios for numerous organizations, judging contests, and speaking on various panels discussing topics such as the impact of new media, marketing, press and photography blogs. Prior to running Feature Shoot full time, Zavos worked as a photo editor. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter and Affenpinscher.


Ellyn Kail is a writer and avid animal lover. She studied photography and art history at Sarah Lawrence College and now works as the staff writer for Feature Shoot and a contributor for When she’s not at work, Ellyn can be found walking in the Bronxville woods with her rescue pit bull mix Brenda or sitting in the park with her husband Tim. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Ellyn hopes someday to write those words.

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