Why I Love Taking Photos of Abandoned Places

This article was previously published on my HEY World account.

Why I Love Taking Photos of Abandoned Places

A few years ago, a friend of mine invited me to go with him for an urban exploration photo session. I was excited. Visiting abandoned places has always been fascinating for me. It’s like going back in time. There are so many untold stories sitting around us in cities or the countryside. Each place is different, telling its own story, or keeping its story for itself. In each visit, I must take a pause for a while, looking at the empty surroundings, listening even.

My first experience of visiting an abandoned place goes back during a summer vacation in Prince Edward Island in the nineties. Near the place where we stayed, there was an abandoned house sitting in the middle of a field, on the other side of the road. It took me a few days to decide to pay a visit to the abandoned house. I was afraid to violate someone's property. I didn't want to break in. If there was no way to enter the house, I would have left the place. Thankfully, the main door was open, windows on the first level were broken too; it was easy to enter. So I went in and discovered a few exciting things. One of them being an open letter sitting on the cracked-open floor. Clearly, I wasn't the first to visit the place. I took one of the letters and read it. It was written by a girl living in Boston in 1942 who wrote to her parents to share some personal news. Reading into other people's personal life was touching, troubling even. I could imagine her parents, happy to get some news from their daughter living far away in a different country. At the time, without the internet, everything was long to get by. Receiving letters from family members was an exciting moment. Most of the time, I guess.

One of the first few pictures of my first visit to an abandoned house in 1997

I don’t remember how much time I spend inside this house. But I do remember that I couldn’t get to the second level where the bedrooms were located. The stair was heavily broken, and I couldn’t figure out a way to security go upstairs. Eventually, after taking a few pictures, I left the place with a taste of an incomplete experience.

Fast forward to 2020
Last summer, we rented a summer house for two months. I come across a few abandoned places while driving in the surroundings. One place was an ancient farmer’s house, built-in 1927 (top photo). I couldn’t get in. I poked through the windows to have a sense of the interior. The other place was different: an abandoned tent trailer in the middle of the woods, dating back to the seventies. I took a few spooky photos of the area, then I left wondering about its vacation history.

I’m not sure when and where the next urban exploration session will take place. It’s harder to go out during a pandemic. I do miss those. In the meantime, I keep returning to my Lightroom catalogue in search of unprocessed yet interesting images from previous photo sessions or keep exploring the web for sites like this one.