What Abandoned Places Can Teach You About Photography

Taking photos of abandoned places can teach you an enormous number of specialized skills that are generally not taught in a traditional classroom setting. This article will highlight the most important skills you can achieve simply by photographing abandoned places and buildings, which can help enhance the quality of other types of photography.

I must again emphasize that safety and legality are foremost, and neither should be overlooked simply for photographic pursuits. More about legal and safety considerations can be found in this post.


Abandoned Industrial Mine (8)

If you think that framing is something that happens when a photo is hung on a wall, you are mistaken. When a photographer takes a picture, special consideration must be given to how that picture will be viewed even if it were held in someones hand, for example. This above shot was taken with the chain link fence out of focus with the doors and windows in perfect focus. The fence wire gives the feeling of abandonment and desolation.

Attention To Detail

The Life They Let Slip Away

Paying attention to the little things that most people overlook is what I define as attention to detail. I found this old doll on the floor of an abandoned house. Over the many years that the house has been used for parties, urban exploration, and off-label activities, I was fortunate enough to find this doll laying in the doorway of one of the outbuildings. This one photo not only made the adventure worthwhile, but has become one of my most sought after images of my photographic career.

Mental Awareness

Abandoned Train Depot - Stairs To Cellar

As a photographer, you are expected to be aware of your surroundings, and what is going on around you. As far as photography is concerned, timing really is everything.  Before I started my own business, I was a full-time Emergency Medical Technician and Firefighter, so long before I pursued a career photography, my heightened sense of my surroundings were already well ingrained within my subconscious.  When you are taking photos, you must have a generalized awareness of what is happening around you, especially when you are photographing abandoned locations, which each have their own unique set of hazards.



Since the advent of photography, a lot of emphasis has been placed upon the preservation of our memories, and in some cases, preserving things for historical value.  This above pictured abandoned farmhouse inexplicably burned before I had the opportunity to explore and photograph the interior.  To my knowledge, I have the only photograph of this farmhouse in its current abandoned state.  In some respects it is of historical value considering that the house is no longer in existence.

Hopefully the photographic examples have inspired you.  For more related photos, check out the following photo sets:

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