This conceptual still life series portrays waste through an unusual and unexpected lens. It was selected as a finalist in the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2015. Discover more inspiring work from all 31 of the winners and finalists.

Two years ago, I started to photograph the waste in a scrapyard.

Soon, I noticed how many stories there were, hidden behind the waste, how their history was related to the people who had used them.

The objects I found were used by people of all ages—children, adults and the elderly—and all of their detritus offered traces of their fingerprints; even hair and fragrances. The goods had been used in play, at work, on the way home, on vacation, when doing housework, with breakfast, at lunch, during sleep and even in the restroom.

The scraps were used by poor, rich, middle-class, farmers, housewives, secretaries, executives, photographers and the unemployed. The scraps were involved in sorrows and joys, inside and outside, in the rain and in the sun, on the roads, yards, fields and in the homes.

These scraps have been in people’s lives and also in their deaths. While photographing the scraps, I began to see the whole spectrum of life through the waste. It’s magnificent.

—Pasi Orrensalo