Finding Amazing Photos in The Strangest of PlacesBy
Sometimes as photographers, we can find amazing photo opportunities in the strangest of places. Aside from my regular work, on occasion I might stumble upon a place that could use a closer look. My curiosity has brought me to places that the ordinary sensible person might never go. These places include abandoned industrial sites, hospitals, railroad stations and cars, and on very rare occasion, abandoned residential complexes.
On one particular occasion, I decided to explore an old house and by my estimates, I felt it most likely had been abandoned for at least 30 years. Aside from the unstable floors, piles of trash, and the musty smell was this one decaying baby doll. Out of all the photos I took that day, the photo of the doll was the one I liked the most.
A handful of the people who view my photos always ask me where they were taken, and if I could suggest a location where they could take similar pictures. The truth is that abandoned places, buildings, and things can be found just about anywhere. While some of the places I’ve photographed have been planned, far more just come out of pure luck; most of the time I come across interesting places while traveling.
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Above all else, you MUST get permission from the landowner or caretaker before you enter any property for which you do not have ownership of. Of course, this is a given for any photographer, but when exploring or photographing abandoned locations, permission is vital before you go.
- Check Google or Flickr for inspiration. – In addition to these sites being great resources, Flickr has a unique map of geotagged photos.
- Keep up with message boards. – There are a multitude of discussion forums focusing on abandoned places. You will likely have better luck if you search for Urban Exploration. Flickr has a lot of groups, such as this one, that focuses on abandoned places and things in the United States.
- Get permission. – I just can’t stress this enough. You can get arrested and you can go to jail or pay a fine for trespassing. Written permission is always better than spoken (which leads me to my final point).
- What if you can’t get permission…? – Just because you ask does not mean that you will be given permission. Land owners can be just as finicky and picky as the photographers who ask to photograph their property. Some land owners have asked that my pictures not be sold or used commercially. Others have requested a framed print of their choice at no charge, while another asked for monetary compensation for the use of the property. If you are lucky, the landowner will allow you to photograph the location without question; one abandoned factory manager would not allow me to photograph the property (due to insurance and safety reasons), but since I was patient enough, did eventually allow me the opportunity to take some photos of the abandoned plant from a pre-determined spot.
- Don’t expect to make a living off of it. – Taking photos of abandoned places is not the most profitable means of photography, at least it hasn’t been my main source of income, but a handful of others have built their entire photographic career on top of it. Travel expenses, countless hours of research, and time spent tracking-down land owners, many of whom are clear about the non-commercial use of the photographs makes this more a labor of love and adventure.
My company specializes in writing, photography, and website design. My father gave me my first camera when I was a small child, and it quickly became my most prized possession. I was also fascinated with exploring places others rarely ever ventured, such as abandoned places, buildings, and railroad cars.
As time went on, I formed a business centered around my passion; living larger-than-life adventures, and sharing the photographic journey on my website.
Photo/Video Credits: © 2010 Thomas Slatin
Address: 226 School House Rd, Schoharie, New York 12157
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