Urbex, or Urban Exploration photography, is a very attractive genre, and not only for photographers. These urban settings present interesting and unique images. It is also a perfect opportunity for experimenting with portraits. What does Urbex photography entail? It can be exciting and sometimes a bit dangerous. It’s sure to give you an adrenaline rush. So be careful and watch every step you take.
Let’s take a look at how to find the right Urbex location, how to get there, how to safely move about, and how to jump start your creativity. We’ll go over some ideas and focus on costume photoshoots in abandoned locations that are difficult to access.
Finding abandoned locations for your photoshoot
Urbex photographers are notorious for not sharing their secret locations with the general public. Hence, it can be quite a challenge to discover these abandoned places. Then again, you can try shooting in relatively well-known Urbex locations that can be easily found on the internet. These tend to be in larger cities, though some are also found in smaller towns. They are often found along major roads with a lot of traffic, such as old factories or former train stations. One of these more well-known locations is the Rolava mine in the Czech Republic, where almost every photographer from Bohemia goes.
Try asking around. You may even find Urbex locations near your home. For example, you can shoot in an old attic that is not in use but serves your purpose perfectly.
Prepare for an unpredictable environment
When shooting Urbex photography, keep in mind that you can encounter several dangers – Floors that can cave in at any moment or ceilings that can collapse. Don’t take these dangers lightly. Move with care, don’t shout, and plan every step. Most importantly, always make sure you look beneath your feet.
Also, be cautious of local inhabitants. You can encounter two types of people in abandoned places like these. The homeless and drug users. Homeless people are happy to leave you alone and give you your space most of the time. Drug users should be avoided or left alone. Go elsewhere or come back at a different time. You don’t know what condition you’ll find them in and that is where the real danger lies. Both types of locals may have dogs with them. If you’re lucky, they’re on a leash, but don’t count on it. Be sure to proceed with care.
Making the most of Urbex in your photography
Use Urbex in its entirety. Forget about close-ups and take advantage of your model’s surroundings. Don’t be afraid to use wider lenses and blend the setting in with the photo. For instance, 35mm or 24mm lenses can be fun to work with in these types of settings.
I generally recommend working with natural light, and I don’t only say this because I am a fan of natural lighting. These places are usually dark and depressing which means less light suits them. Flash would only brighten things up and take the focus away from the setting itself.
You can come up with a costume for your model to wear to bring out the uniqueness of a location. You can try using a costume inspired by a game or movie character. You can use a post-apocalyptic costume, which is perfect for Urbex. Feel free to try anything else, from abstract to even nudes. It’s completely up to you.
Include graffiti or natural elements that are growing throughout the building and make use of old furniture or old machinery. In short, incorporate everything into the photoshoot that can be of interest for Urbex photography. Find the right angle and the right lighting. Don’t be afraid to use smoke bombs or kick up dust to add to the atmosphere.
Shooting Urbex is guaranteed to spark your creativity. As soon as you enter the grounds of a dilapidated, abandoned building, you are immediately surrounded by its already-forgotten history. It’s almost poetic. Thanks to the interesting visual elements, you certainly won’t be bored. Walk through every safe and accessible corner and set up the right composition, poses, and angles. You’ll soon see the photographs start to form on their own.
There’s no doubt that these Urbex locations will get your creative juices flowing. Just keep an open mind and when you find places that exude uniqueness, it will come naturally. Keep in mind that danger lurks everywhere and be extra careful. Time your photoshoot just right to get good lighting. It may be too late for the golden hour when the building is closed off, but it may just work. Enjoy the unforgettable experience of shooting Urbex photography!