Urban Exploration, often referred to as Urbex or UE, is the exploration of abandoned buildings that are generally restricted and closed to the general public. A commonly inquired question people want to know when they see these astonishing images from these not-so-easy to access locations is how to find out exactly where it is situated and how to enter.
There are several sites available online dedicated solely to abandoned buildings such as http://www.uer.ca and http://www.infiltration.org. They offer information such as: the location of the building, year it was built, when it was closed, how accessible it is and a rating scale on it’s noteworthiness. It is important to grasp a basic understanding of the potential risk involved and the likelihood that one could be trespassing when entering before photographing such locations. It is always best to do as much research as possible about the location to be explored prior to attempting to gain access and begin exploring.
Personally I never have had a fascination in Urbex, but the more frequently I view photos and read about it, my curiosity increasingly becomes piqued. A fellow photographer friend of mine Stacey, who has some experience in Urbex photography, invited me to go along with her and some other photographers to a few abandoned locations. I gratefully accepted her invitation because I figured it would be something worth trying at least once and besides I do enjoy her company. If all else failed I anticipated that this new experience would allow me to gain some insight and wisdom on the Urbex world. As well as, be a topic I could potentially write about on iLHP.
Although Stacey did her research prior to going, things can often change quite rapidly at the Urbex locations. We quickly determined that we would not be able to enter either of the two locations as we had planned.
The first Urbex location had been boarded up with steel doors and metal bolts securing it shut to unwanted visitors. There was information online that there was a nearby underground tunnel accessing the building. The tunnel used to connect several other buildings to one another. Unfortunately, the spot we believed to have been the access point was covered with massive boulders that were impossible to move without some serious man power.
The second Urbex location, was an old school that had been shut down and was set to be demolished in the very near future for a housing development. Stacey received information from another photographer friend that they were able to access the school quite effortlessly just a week prior. Once again, to our surprise when we arrived at the school, there was a security guard perched on a chair out front of the “easily accessible” school.
Needless to say I left feeling scant disappointment due to my lack of interest in the Urbex world.
I did my own research after these two failed attempts. I learned that safety is a huge concern when venturing off into any abandoned building since it has likely been left attended for many years. It is common to find caved in flooring, lose wires, broken glass, asbestos and often squatters who use these places as drug houses. Some locations require you to wear a respirator in order not to inhale harmful asbestos fibers and dust. It also is advised that one wear long pants, bring along gloves and cautioned not to touch anything fibrous. It has been known that people have left with unwelcome parasites that can easily be transferred to their own dwelling. Yuck!
The unspoken rule among urban explorers is, “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.”
Much like rooftopping, urban explorers often do not post the locations of where their images were taken. If they choose to write anything, they will write a vague description of the type of location the images were shot at without revealing too much detail. They highly respect other urbex photographers and the places they are entering and most importantly do not want to ruin it for others in the community. I want to be certain to maintain the same level of respect among the Urbex photography community by not revealing too much information outside the normal realm. As well as, it is crucial for me not to cross any boundaries that could potentially upset some explorers.
The information within this Urbex blog was obtained relatively effortlessly by punching in just a few minor key words into a google web search. It isn’t my intention to reveal anything that is meant to be kept secret but to be able to open other photographers’ eyes to new subject matter. In addition, to gain some insight in the different photography communities available out there. It was not that long ago that I learned of the Urbex world and of the vast amount of people that take immense pride in photographing these fascinating locations.
I rather quickly learned that the majority of the amazing Urbex images that are out there are achieved through patience and a considerable understanding of the Urbex community.
Although I respect these UE photographers on a highly creative level, I don’t think one can expect to see many Urbex photos on any of my feeds anytime soon. But with me, you never know!
Happy Urbex shooting!
Until next time,
Featured image by Neil Kremer |