Photographing Abandoned Places--Lessons

I know, I know, my way of looking at places and photographing them isn't your typical approach. I like to look at humans much the same way. Sure, you can look at their packaging and think you know them, but until you get up close and personal, you don't know their content! It's the same with photographing abandoned sites.

(full shot)

(partial shot)

I could take a shot of the whole dang building, but all that says is "I was here. I saw this building. Here's what I saw." Now, look at the second shot. Doesn't it say, "What is this? It's creepy. I wonder if something is peering at me through the cracks." That's honestly how I felt. That building had major "I'm watching you" mojo. Lesson: Go past the entirety to find the one detail that says it all.



Lesson:-you don't know jack shit! You think you see a building, right? Go inside! Now you know the building.

(the building)

(it's surroundings)

Sometimes, it's not all about the "thing" but about its context. The building is a cool crumbling adobe in the middle of the big mean desert, but the fallen pole now becomes a fallen cross on a barren desert floor. Lesson: Cross trumps building!

Ultimately, at all costs, walk through it without taking one damn wasted photo (believe me, I always toss out the first shots--I was so naive when I arrived there!) What is it that gets you about the place, the items that are still in place? The wind flapping the curtains? The light filtering it? Did it smell bad? (show us why) Did you feel claustrophobic? (portray it) I don't give a flying fig where you were, but I am excited by how where you were affected you...


  1. Good lighting and shooting from different viewpoints make anything look more interesting. Good tips!

  2. There are lots more cool abandoned buildings and other things in Jerome. I have to go back there with my explorer buddy. I love taking the up shots on buildings or whatever, that perspective is pretty interesting.

  3. Yes, I am really excited at photographing in Jerome. The people are not the least bit friendly about it, though, so you have to be ready to be chased.

  4. so, like tas, you check the junk inna trunk? :O lol

  5. a different angle and light definitely gives a more evocative image.


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