My name is Johnny Joo (pronounced ‘yo’.) I am a 26-year-old photographer from Ohio.
At the age of 16, I started to explore various areas around where I lived and quickly grew to love what I would find on explorations, whether it was through nature or abandoned structures. I shortly after began to capture the world around me, the things I see and how I see them. I wanted to share these beautiful places with people as well as I can, and through a lens was how I could shape these visions.
Through all that I have loved to photograph, around the age of 16 I became intrigued with urban exploration upon the discovery of an abandoned farm house in the city of Kirtland, OH. My mother, stepfather and myself were on our way to my sisters house when I had spotted it and asked if we could pull into the drive way to check it out. The way the roof was caved in, covered in bright moss attracted my attention. It was beautiful. We pulled into the drive and walked from our car up to the entrance of this falling structure.
Upon entrance through the tall, white, wooden swinging doors I was instantly brought to the realization that this was someone’s past; the history of lives we never even knew, but for some reason I found to be so interesting. People were here once, living and working and now they are gone while the collapsing ruins remain a place that is looked past by so many. We walked through the falling foundation, across tilted floors which had been shifted by the Earth, examining this space that had once been full of life. This moment felt so peaceful. From that day on, whenever I would see a decayed structure that had been left to fall, I would find a way to explore it. Shortly after in 2009 I had learned this was actually known as urban exploration and became hooked on learning the history of the places I would explore.
I was fascinated by the way moss and ivy could wrap itself up a man-built machine or around the outside of a building, crawling in through its windows, traveling up an intricate Victorian stairwell as it fell into a corridor. I loved the way a torn apart hallway would lead you to an open room where the shattered remains of a window lie in pieces on the ground while the outside light poured into a room of colorful, peeling walls lighting up the silence surrounding you. It opened my eyes to a whole normally unseen part of life and the world around me.
This is something that will not be here forever, but was alive at one point and is now just a memory which could soon become yet another memory lingering upon the soil or street corner where it once stood. I thought to myself ‘this is what I need to document and share with the world.’
It captured me in such an incredible way, and I now attempt to capture it just as well as it has me.