Inside CERN: Our lab, through a lens

(Image: Andri Pol)

A helpful smiley face on an emergency exit. A female physicist on the phone by a poster of Sean Connery. John Ellis behind a mountain of scientific papers.

In Inside CERN, photographer Andri Pol captures the essence of day-to-day life at CERN in a series of beautifully simple snapshots. There's a real sense of community in these images – chats over laptops, physicists napping at their desks, discussions by an equation-filled blackboard. The high-tech vistas, mundane corridors and faces from around the globe come together to give a very vivid impression of life at our unique laboratory. 

(Image: Andri Pol)

CERN's gigantic detectors have been photographed before, as have many of the people who work here. But Pol breathes life into his photo essay with an original eye, a light, airy style and arresting compositions. He presents CERN as a very human story – a candid portrait of people at work.

"The best moments were always when I met people, when they showed me and explained to me what they were doing," says Pol, who completed the work in a series of visits to the laboratory over two years. "I was fascinated by this immense passion that everybody seems to have. Everybody is proud to be a part of CERN and is happy to exchange ideas with colleagues." Pol extends his thanks to Director-General Rolf Heuer for giving the go-ahead for the project, and to all the scientists and technicians who opened their doors to him.

Several images stood out for me: There's CMS physicist Richard Kellogg seemingly baffled by an array of unwashed coffee cups – a picture that could very well be an icon of day-to-day life here. Then there's the "ATLAS Tokyo team" subsisting on cans of energy drinks, or a Dutch physicist working assiduously in an office inexplicably filled with brightly coloured balloons.

The beauty of Inside CERN is the quirky detail; the countless ways that people interact with and adapt to the laboratory environment.

Inside CERN is a pleasure to peruse. Take a look.

(Image: Andri Pol)

Update 6 February 2014: Inside CERN, a photo essay by Andri Pol, is now available at the CERN library in English and German