Urban Exploration Photography: Beauty in the eye of the photographer.

For many urban explorers there is an insatiable need to share their finds through photography. It is proof a location was discovered and visited. These finds are then shared through social media such as Facebook, Flikr or other sites such as UER and adds to ones credibility as an explorer. While there is nothing wrong with this, it can however, become an ever consuming process as one strives to get the best pictures possible. Often not for themselves, but for the urbex community who often praise the best pictures and criticize those who simply “point and shoot” while they go.

When I began exploring many years ago the only pictures I took were personal pictures, meant to document our adventures, as we explored abandoned places together as a family. As the urbex bug began to take hold, the focus shifted away from simple family photographs to documenting the locations that we found. When the urbex obsession fully kicked in, it then became about locating and documenting as many finds as possible while taking the best pictures I could. The photography aspect of exploring consumed me. I bought books on urbex photography. I scanned urbex forums that critiqued other urban explorers photographs. Suddenly it became about expectations. Is digital post-processing acceptable or should my pictures stay “as taken”? Is HDR still in or not? Can I use Photoshop do add or remove elements from my photos? Is my picture over exposed, under exposed or over saturated? It became about expectations rather than the joy to simply photograph locations and share them. I’ve seen many pictures from explorers on certain urbex forums that are just fine, yet critiqued to the hilt by other explorers who have nothing good to say. Why? They were obviously meant to simply document the location and share the find. It is often a community that is quick to give it’s opinion when it is not asked for.

What matters is you, the explorer, and what you want to do. Do you like vibrant saturation, then do it. If HDR is your thing then have fun with it. Experiment and keep the creative process going. When you start bending to the expectations of others it becomes a task and no longer enjoyable. This is, after all, a hobby. There’s allot of urban explorers out on the web who offer great advice on urbex photography. There’s also a number of books on photography in general that can help raise your skills if that’s what you want to do! Many people will criticize a picture because it simply does not suite their personal preference. I am by no means a professional photographer, I’m simply a rural explorer who enjoys the company of his wife while traveling back roads taking pictures. Have fun exploring. Document your finds with pictures, if you want to, and be creative in your photography!

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