As the lights go off and the gates are bolted shut, the once colorful facades of lively recreational hot spots take on an eerie new life. That's what Italian photographer Stefano Cerio says in his new book, "Night Games," filled with images of recreational sites around the world that were taken exclusively at night.
Cerio has been capturing the eerie side of the places we know and love -- from ski resorts and cruise ships to amusement parks -- since 2012. He spoke to CNN about why -- and how -- he does it.
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CNN: In "Night Games" you describe the final product as images of "artificial worlds." What did you mean by that?
Stefano Cerio: In these parks, everything is manifested artificially. Even in matters of a natural landscape or a wild river, it is all man-made, but it has a very strong appeal and drags the visitor into its dreamy atmosphere. Similarly, I hope that my photographs of "Night Games" can give an idea of a completely alternative world.
Did you intentionally set out to photograph recreational spaces or did it happen organically?
There is nothing casual in my projects. It happens because I keep thinking about them for months. I usually build the images in my mind and then develop the project looking for the locations that might correspond to the original idea.
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Stefano Cerio's images for "Chinese Fun", shot using an old plate camera, explore the grim realities of off-season and abandoned theme parks and the props that get left behind.
This gigantic bowl of concrete fruit was found by the roadside on the outskirts of Beijing, where many orchards are located. Credit: Stefano Cerio/Hatje Cantz
How did you gain access to these places? Was there an element of climbing over fences to get the perfect shot?
The access to recreational spaces is strictly regulated, for obvious security reasons. In fact, I obtained a special permission to shoot and it was not easy. In the case of Coney Island Park, it was not possible to get access permission, so I had to climb up the elevated trail along the beach and take the photos from a distance.
What shocked you most about the nightly aesthetic of these locations?
The most shocking element was how dramatically different the appearance of these locations have in the darkness of the night, compared to the usual vision of a highly crowded place in the bright daylight.
Which site was the eeriest after the dark?
The eeriest shot was the one in Mirabilandia
(Ravenna) of the falling Statue of Liberty, which is in the area of the theme park dedicated to a pessimistic vision of the future United States.
Is there anywhere you didn't go that you wish you had?
Being that Paris is my second town, I wish I could have gone and shot at Disneyland Paris or Park Asterix, but unfortunately I could not get the necessary permission by the administration.
by Stefano Cerio is out now.