This guest post is by David Wares. He is Based in the South East of England UK. He loves to photograph nature, landscape and over the last couple of years has become fascinated with the subject of Urban Exploration and dereliction. This year, he says,”I was lucky enough to win ‘The Portman Cup' for Best Image of 2010 at the Sussex Photographic Federation's Digital Projected Image competition.” He also writes the ‘Scenic Outlook' column for Current Photographer. Follow him on Twitter.
There’s something about places and objects that have fallen into disrepair that really intrigue me. I’m no historian by any means but I’ve always had an interest in visiting old ruins, such as the many medieval castles found across the UK. I can’t say exactly what it is that I find so fascinating; sometimes it starts me thinking about what may have gone on and sometimes it is merely the look of these old ruins. Again, it is hard to explain why something that is old and broken may be aesthetically pleasing, all I know is that it is.
So how does this all relate to me and my photography? When I started out I took the route that many others take, that of landscape photography. Quite often I love to visit the very picturesque Bodiam Castle, a classic castle ruin that is very well preserved and has an air of mystery about it during the early morning when shrouded by mist. It wasn’t until about three years ago that my interest in dereliction would take a new direction; Urban Exploration.
Far from the picturesque ruins I and most others are familiar with, Urban Exploration (or UrBex) involves going into more modern places that have been abandoned and become derelict for various different reasons. These tend to include old factories, hospitals, gas stations, fair grounds, manor houses and mansions; the list goes on and on. The term Urban Exploration itself is a bit vague but usually refers to people that frequent said abandoned buildings and tunnels (usually dangerous and off limits), however it could also be applied to places that the general public just don’t go to all that much, such as a junk yard or back alley for instance. Sometimes I take a trip down to our local beach where a small fishing fleet resides; you can find all sorts of rotten and rusty old worn out objects there.
The theme of dereliction will often result in your pictures having a much more sombre look and feel which in itself can be a really interesting avenue to explore. Not all pictures have to be bright and colourful. :)
I’m by no means advocating that everyone go out and start trespassing; that is something you need to take very careful consideration over, for both health and legal reasons. However, I do encourage everyone take the time to look in places that others avoid as there are so many artefacts that you can find and in the most accessible of areas that can and will make wonderful and interesting subjects for your pictures. Another great thing about dereliction is that in my view it’s an all weather activity. Whereas some other genres of photography can benefit from the ‘right’ kind of light, dereliction seems to lend itself to almost any lighting situation you can think of. Sunlight can bring out colours in rust etc while overcast or dull light can give bring an eerie or solemn feel to your pictures.
Have you explored your neighborhood? Does Urban Exploration intrigue you? Can you give yourself an assignment to photograph a place that has been abandoned in your neck of the woods? Come back here and share your images.