5 Reasons to Photograph Abandond Buildings

This photograph begs the question... What exactly is in that freezer?
This photograph begs the question... What exactly is in that freezer?

This photograph begs the question... What exactly is in that freezer?

This photograph begs the question… What exactly is in that freezer?

Photographers are a curious bunch, always looking for that new and unique place to capture on film, going deeper and further than most to catch a glimpse of something seldom seen.  One problem photographers encounter at some point (or multiple points) is that traveling from one end of the world to the other to photograph exotic, seldom scene, subjects costs money… a lot of money.  And let’s face it, not everyone wants to travel hours and hours via train, planes, and automobiles to photograph either (I’m talking to you homebodies).  So what is unique, exotic, and interesting, does not cost anything to photograph, and is within 10 minutes of your house?  You guessed it, Abandon buildings.

Abandon buildings serve a purpose.  They serve as reminders of what used to be and what is to come.  Nothing is untouched by the test of time.  When you walk into an abandon building it’s impossible to escape the chills that crawl down your back when you smell the stale air and see the rotting wood.  You immediately wonder if there are ghosts and are they friendly like Casper or mean like the Headless Horseman.  Once you rule out ghosts (because there are none) you start to venture deeper and deeper into the destruction of time.  If you are lucky the building will look as though the previous tenants up and walked off while in the middle of their morning coffee, everything is left where it would have been.  Photographing abandon buildings is a test of your compositional skills as well as braveness.

Composition is tricky indoors, it doesn’t matter whether the building is abandon or a modern day beauty.  You’ve got to frame your photographs in a way that eliminates distracting elements and yet uses natural light to emphasize interesting elements.  You’ll need your tripod and a flashlight (do I need to say camera, how many people will go photographing with just their tripod and flashlight and be like “well thanks John, this would be great… IF I HAD MY CAMERA).  You’ll be shooting at slow shutter speeds so make sure you bring your remote shutter release or set your camera to a small delay to eliminate any shaking your finger may cause by pressing the shutter button.

There are numerous reasons to photograph indoors, here are five:

  • Abandon buildings tell an interesting story and are hard not to want to look at, viewers are drawn into them through your photograph.  Most people are curious what the inside of “that” abandon building looks like but don’t venture in.
  • Rust – The colors of decay contrast nicely with old drywall or block work
  • Testing your composition skills – do you get in nice and close or take a wide angle shot encompassing everything?  You’ll have to try both and really practice your compositional skills.
  • Light Painting – use your flashlight to practice painting with light, as you shoot with a slow shutter your can “brush” the light back and forth where you’d like to emphasize something.
  • Document the past – the building may not be around much longer and your photographs may be the last ones every taken there.

If you want to photograph an abandon building nearby be sure to do your due diligence in finding who the owner is, it’s as easy as asking neighbors of the building or stopping by the courthouse and looking up who owns the property.  You’ll want to ask permission so you’re not mistaken as a looter or squatter.  As always, be sure to let someone know where you are and/or take someone with you.  Watch your footing, wood rots and nails rust so some floors may be unstable (let your friend go first just to be safe… kidding).  If something looks suspect then just avoid it, there are plenty of haunted abandon houses around so you’ll not have a problem finding another.


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