Mette Frandsen – Sin City

Mette Frandsen

Sin City



I meet Mickey at a traffic light two blocks from the center of Las Vegas.

He’s carrying a heavy suitcase and the brutal and inhuman desert sun is making him sweat. He takes a break in the shadow. I ask him about the suitcase.

– I just found it in the dumpster, he tells me. It has a sticker on it: Fabulous Las Vegas!

Inside of the suitcase he finds a half-eaten pizza, soap and old worn out clothes. Mickey spends every day walking the streets of Las Vegas, looking in dumpsters for things he can use. Once he found a wedding dress. It was brand new.

Mickey came to Vegas ten years ago to drink him self to death. Today he’s homeless and located, together with his friends, on the corner of The Strip, the five-mile long stretch through Vegas with all the casinos.

Mickey shows me his right hand. You can’t count the knuckles, it’s that swollen.

– I had to get up and defend a lady because someone harassed her. In our ‘family’ we take care of each other. They paint each other’s toenails black with a marker, when one of them falls asleep – they think it’s funny.

The next time I meet Mickey, he’s skinny and the hair is long. The ‘family’ isn’t there anymore. I ask him, how he’s doing. He doesn’t say much but:

– I’ve lost track.




Don had money. He moved to Vegas twelve years ago to play poker.

I can’t ask him what he did before he came to Vegas. That’s the only thing I can’t ask him. He lost his job when the recession hit and lived on the streets for about a year. He was scared and longed for the life he once had.

Don still plays poker. Not like before, but at cheaper gambling tables, where the stakes are lower. He meets women at the casinos, but they are all after the money, he says. He doesn’t like women of his own age, but prefers them younger.

Don thinks Las Vegas is a lonely place and when I ask him who his best friend is, he answers:

– My best friend is me! Me, me, me.


“There’s nothing fake about Las Vegas – it’s very real, welcome to Sin City”




I’m Mette Frandsen. 36 years old. Currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I teach at different workshops, lecture on my projects, do freelance jobs and work around the world.

• BA in photojournalism, Danish School of Journalism

• Attended Fatamorgana, Danish School of Documentary- and Art Photography

‘Sin City’ has won prizes and has been exhibited at selected locations and galleries in Denmark.


Mette Frandsen


21 Responses to “Mette Frandsen – Sin City”

  • What a great collection of photos. Congrats on being featured here, and on the completion of a great photo essay!

  • Sad and depressing as the city itself….I’m left empty and tired.
    Need to look at this a few more times but I can’t shake the feeling of this essay having a Petersen influence…a heavy one.

  • love your being so close to the people and so far from the Strip’s buildings. your b&w seems to me the perfect counterpoint to Vegas shining lights. congratulations

  • Another Once upon a time…………. and we all lived miserably after

  • “I can’t shake the feeling of this essay having a Petersen influence…a heavy one.”

    Me too!

    They both look like they were made using a camera of some sort.
    They are both in Black and White.
    They both feature ‘people’ as well as ‘things’.
    …the similarities go on and on…its uncanny.

  • Seriously though, why this doesnt exactly make me go wow, I think that I Would like to see them as prints.

  • Mette
    Congratulations for being published here.

    This is yet one more classic example of the gritty, grainy, contrasty black and white, direct flash, depressing trashy side of life school of photography. It’s a reasonably well done example as far as that goes. However, I can’t see that it adds anything new to my understanding of the human condition, or the genre.

    Surely there are fresh themes out there to be explored.

  • Congratulations, some nice work there, but I don’t see much, if any connection between the title and Vegas and the photos. Aside from the desert backdrop in a few shots, you can find those subjects just about anywhere in the U.S. The essay doesn’t give any kind of insight into what makes Vegas Vegas, at least not that I can see. I also don’t see what sin has to do with any of it. Might as well call it “Anywhere, USA.”

  • Love the photos although I don’t know what the hell they’ve got in common with Las Vegas. The artist statement promises too much as far as I’m concerned but anyway a brilliant set of single images.

  • Hey there-
    Congratulations! I am enamored.

    Although I’d agree with the empty and lost feeling, there is something magnetic about many ..can’t put my finger on it exactly. Maybe with other work that is similar viewer feels separate still (even if close to the lens) but with this work there seems to be a personal closeness, a strong bond there.
    I’d be interested to know how much time was spend with the subjects. It seems like a lot, but I could be wrong.
    8, 13,14,15,25 are my tops

    @Carlo I wouldn’t picked that up right away but def see the similarity.
    Frankly, I wonder if anyone can make any innovations in vision. As they say …it’s all been done. Something truly new seems near impossible and otherwise it’s adding nuance, refining the themes. Can’t hurt to keep trying though….

  • Milli,

    The sequence has changed since this was posted…it flows different now.
    It still feels like a Petersen “inspired” essay to me.
    I see a glimmer of authorship in #13 #15 #17
    #18 can be a Gilden if you were to tell me it was and I would have believed you. See what I mean?
    I like the feeling this essay captures. What I don’t like is how it achieved it….by mimicking a masters style.

    You ask

    “I wonder if anyone can make any innovations in vision.”

    Well look at the Magnum roster! they all have their own vision!
    If it can be done with music it can sure be done with photography.
    Not easy…but like you say “Can’t hurt to keep trying though…”

  • I seriously haven’t even looked at your pics yet but I love the humanity of your words… Love Danish photojournalists… cut to the chase with your heart…nice… will look at the pics right now…

  • Hey Carlo!

    Thanks for the reply! I’m hearing you for sure.
    And certainly agree about the Magnum crew. I peruse the blog there often with these questions swirling in my brain.
    The latest theory I am hanging on …if you want to hear, going to tell anyway :)) is like #13 for example.
    In mulling over what makes me respond most is the feeling not even just an intimacy but almost like you are the subject for a split second. Transported into that person’s shoes and an important connection is felt, maybe even important enough that would overcome bad lighting or composition if you felt that.
    a thought for the day, try not to think that much when I’m out doing it :)

    Best, M

  • (ps. not saying #13 has bad light/comp at all, meant in general)

  • Hi Milli,

    That’s why I like the comments….when there is a dialog…;-)
    Yes, #13 tells me about the photographer. Perhaps the cropping, framing…it says “this is me” sort of thing. He is doing his own thing. I mean Meet Frandsen comes out…not Meet Frandsen doing Anders Petersen.

  • I am having a hard time feeling these images. I’ve viewed the essay about 4 times now and I keep coming back to the same thoughts… that the images are non-sensical, and that there is more style here than depth. The idea of a deep dark photo essay about Las Vegas has always excited me… and when I first saw that this was published I couldn’t wait to view the images. But this essay really disappointed me. These two characters seem plucked right out of a movie script. I was looking forward to getting to know them better… getting an intimate peek into their lived. The description gave a melodramatic cliff note explanation of who they were as people, and then the images just went right off the deep end.

    I understand that images that pose questions are often times more favorable than those which provide all the answers. But I think this series crosses the line, and as a result… I have not learned anything new nor am I left feeling very interested in Mickey or Don as human beings. Which I think does them a great disservice.

  • I love your photos. You’ve created a real feel for me. The people and places of las vegas. Since I live in Las vegas I always try to scan the faces and places to see if I know them. I think your stories are well lived.

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