Over the past year, I’ve stumbled across stunning images of forgotten places, remnants of abandoned beauty scattered across the globe where I’d least expect it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just visit out this Pinterest Board and prepare to be awed at the breathtaking images of mankinds’s cast-offs overtaken by nature. Although there is a sadness to the thought of once-functional structures given over to nature, sometimes the results yield unexpected, everyday beauty lurking in the decay. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes eerie, but definitely fascinating. Welcome to the world of Urban Exploration.
In fact, there is an entire group of photographers dedicated to exploring these locations around the globe. Called Urban Exploration (UrbEx), these intrepid photographers uncover a treasure trove of ghostly images reminding us of the places where man once thrived but turned his back on and walked away. There was even a documentary made about them called Urban Explorers or “an international subculture of fearless thrill-seekers who lurk beneath city streets and trespass into long-abandoned buildings, defiantly searching for unseen treasures of modern civilization.” My first introduction to these types of images was through the amazing Miss Aniela who shot a series of her self-portraits in several different abandoned locations. And last year at the NY and Philly Flickr Meetups, I met Kora and Angel, both talented UrbEx photographers, who invited to me to join them on an expedition, and although I have yet to take them up on their offer, I find myself drawn to their streams time and time again.
While not on quite the same scale of these grand Urban Explorations, I’ve had unexpected encounters with abandoned places and abandoned objects while walking around my 100-year old neighborhood. From the expected to the surreal, we have a little bit of everything just around the corner.
Sometimes, I will find forgotten details that can only be seen from one angle.
And homes that I’ve walked by dozens of times slowly crumble and then reveal their treasures in the most unexpected places.
And last month, my flickr friend Adrian took me on an UrbEx experience shooting in an abandoned greenhouse.
If UrbEx gets your heart racing and wanting to get there and explore, you can check out these flickr groups to learn more about shooting in abandoned spaces:
One last thing to keep in mind, if you are going to take off on an Urban Exploration, remember that most of these sites are technically off-limits, as in you will be trespassing while shooting there. Be sure to learn as much about your location as possible before jumping in with two feet…literally. You never know how bad the decay may be so be ultracareful where you step and take many precautions while shooting. Broken glass, jagged edges and rotting wood are most certainly to be expected. How about you? Shoot any abandoned places lately? Share your experiences and links to your images in comments.