Shopping centres and high streets were once the focal point of the community, but internet shopping and our 24/7 online culture mean one in five shops in North East England currently stand empty. (Butler, 2021) For this project, I have photographed some of these empty premises using a ‘toy’ Holga camera. The resulting black and white exposures are grainy, scratched and distinctly lo-fi which fits the subject matter, giving a sense of nostalgia and melancholy – potentially both misplaced and projected. 

The speed of the decline of the high street has been accelerated by the Covid pandemic. What, if anything they will become remains uncertain. The vacant, decaying retail units seem to have little chance of being taken over by new tenants – they are an elegy of a time and way of life that is now left in the past.


Butler, S. (2021) One in seven shops now vacant across the UK. The Guardian, 20th July 2021. At: (accessed 5th August 2021)