Exploring abandoned places was initially an interest because, simply put – they looked awesome. I mean, I was 16 years old – an abandoned barn covered in ivy seemed so cool to me to run around because it was creepy. It was strange to see that this kind of scenery existed outside of video games or movies, and practically right in my own backyard. There were so many things collectively that had drawn me to this eerie scenery. Sure, I took some photos, but I wasn’t much of a photographer at that point; I MOSTLY took photos because it was part of a high school black and white film class. Yeah, I took some digital shots with a point-and-shoot (I did enjoy taking photos), but mostly to share interesting adventures online with others during the slight boom of social media. It was fun, and a good way to spend time. I was never really aware that it would take me anywhere that it has today, but I’m glad that it has. I’m also glad that I have had the opportunity to reach so many people and meet so many new and amazing faces!
After a while, it became quite obvious that so many of these places were important parts of our history, that I had noticed were being severely neglected by pretty much everybody. The more I would climb through dirty attics, broken hospital hallways and rain soaked classrooms, the more I came to appreciate the history these places held; the stories they could tell. I strongly felt that these forgotten places were something that needed to be documented and saved in at least one way – and since I would most likely never have the proper funding to actually save these historic places, I decided that I would do the next best thing that I could – use photography and writing to preserve their stories for future generations. One day, maybe we’ll look back and realize how many things have been unnecessarily replaced due to greed, selfishness, forgetfulness or otherwise. Maybe not? Who knows…all I know is that I wanted to attempt to do my part. Urban studies and historical research became routine the more I explored and photographed these places. Historic preservation, architecture and writing became much larger interests in my life, and with this, my love for photography also grew into something I guess you could call a passion – that’s the correct word for that, right? I don’t know. I just like to think of everything I do as part of my life that I would practically be lost without.
When I had first become interested in the world of abandoned buildings, I wasn’t even aware of the term “urbex.” Like I said – it was simply something that was fun to do, and an awesome way to spend time, relax and learn. Since then, it’s obvious that things have changed – in some ways for the better, while in some ways for the worse. I try not to let the worse bother me. With the growing interest in abandoned buildings, it has become almost a trend to explore and take photos to show you were there – but that’s just the issue I have a problem with – people taking pictures to show “I was here first” or blah blah etc. Many individuals will use this life that many of us live and breathe as a sort of bragging right between their friends or otherwise. This is wrong. I think it’s great that many more people now have been truly inspired by my own work, as well as the work of other photographers/journalists, to actually photograph, document, or study these places in a respectable manner, but in the opposite direction, we find those aforementioned. I know I have asked this numerous times before, but why turn something like this into a competition? If we used this same amount of energy to all at least TRY and bring awareness of our waste to current and future generations then little by little, just MAYBE we can spark some bit of change in how much our society wastes. One person at a time right? Spread that shhh like an infection. Trust me, I love having buildings to explore, but it’s one of those situations where you just have to realize what could be better for society as a whole, and I would rather see some of this spectacular architecture saved instead of so carelessly thrown away. It’s not about who got there first or who took more photos, who did this or that, etc. It should be about who is helping to save our history and how. Fighting on Instagram and Facebook about who got to take pictures playing with asbestos in the abandoned school with a selfie-stick first is not going to bring awareness to our society – it will just make you look like a big d-bag.