Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms



Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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8 Mar 2021 8:35AM   Views : 356 Unique : 237


My experience of urbex is limited: it’s a genre that I am, essentially, not well suited to. I am large, don’t bend well, and tend to carry quite a lot of equipment. Urbex sometimes requires that you are very flexible, and fit through small gaps terribly well. And as it’s also, more or less by definition, not entirely legal, it’s ill-suited to the naturally law-abiding.

What is urbex, you may ask. It’s a contraction of the words urban exploration, and it means, essentially, that you are exploring old and deserted buildings. 25-year build-ups of grime, broken fluorescent tubes and floors with rotten boards are a natual part of the territory. As you’re probably trespassing when you do it, you really need to keep your wits about you – you really don’t want to have to call an ambulance…

It began as simple exploration, I think, but it rapidly came to include recording the decaying beauty of some locations – and it was only a matter of time until somebody decided that visiting an old mental hospital would be much more fun if she also took some pictures of her boyfriend strapped down to an old hospital bed. And then some models – many of whom are adventurous and enterprising – started to collect locations.


The nature of urbex means that there may be others looking to spend time in the same places, and it’s worth watching out for needles and broken fortified wine bottles: and it’s also a genre where you will want to make use of locations as you find out about htem – the owner will be wanting to improve security, and turn that nine-inch gap that you had to go through into a steel fence with razor wire at the top.

For the less-enterprising, a few people have realised that property they own can be turned to account by offering it as a ‘studio’ – while you will have to pay, this has the advantage of some basic health and safety provision, legality, and insurance. I’ve never heard of either a model or photographer being seriously hurt, but one attractive venue in Derby ceased to be accessible after a young man fell through the roof. As it was a former factory, the glass roof was thirty or forty feet above the concrete floor, and he died.


At another place, an abandoned farm, I heard a diesel engine approaching along the access road – the access road with a locked barrier at the far end: my models disappeared behind a building, while I strolled over to investigate. I found a white van with a dog-cage in the back, complete with Alsatian, a canvas shotgun case in the footwell, and a shaven-headed gentleman who I fervently hope is on my side if I’m ever in a barfight when he’s around. We chatted for a few minutes and I explained that I was taking pictures of the farm, and he explained that he kept an eye on it for the owners.

It’s not an occupation for either the foolhardy or the faint-hearted. Oh, yes – and your model will be wanting a hot bath as soon as you’ve finished shooting…


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
8 Mar 2021 8:37AM
When I came to look for pictures, I was a bit at a loss: the overwhelming majority of pictures I've taken at urbex locations are nudes. So this is possibly under-illustrated.

A common factor to almost every urbex outing I've had is Nee Naaa, on the left in the lead image. The other models involved are April O and Amé.
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
8 Mar 2021 8:55AM
Definitely more interesting than studio images 😊
Chrism8 Avatar
Chrism8 16 1.1k 34 England
8 Mar 2021 9:12AM
Urbex is a genre that I really enjoy, totally agree with your comments re " having your wits about you " and looking our for rotten floors and needles etc. Whilst I am also pretty much a law abiding person, the initial urbex visits were a little daunting, I've got used to then now, Trespass is a civil offence and providing you've not " broken " your way into a building or caused any damage whist you are there, the only thing an owner can do is ask you to leave, providing you do, there can be no further action taken.

I've only been caught once, was asked to leave and we promptly did, we were shooting nudes and a few minutes before the owner turned up, the model had fortunately put some clothes on Smile

I'm always careful where I park and will leave the car a little up the road away from the venue to as not to be tooooo obvious there could be someone in the building, a thing that from discussion with a number of models whom have excellent lists of old factories they know in their area is recommended.

Chrism8 Avatar
Chrism8 16 1.1k 34 England
8 Mar 2021 9:29AM
I remember the one, in Derby, if its the same one your referring to that Nee Naaa took us both to, we had to hang around for a while until the policeman had moved on as he was close to the entry point Grin
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
8 Mar 2021 10:11AM
A spot of urbexing, right up my street.
Los to be careful of....8 foot fencing isn't great, especially if you fall off it !! or an access window that is slightly narrower that your bttm Wink
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
8 Mar 2021 10:25AM
All access is slightly narrower than my bttm, Janet...

Really good points made there about legality, Chris: there are, though, occasions when you just don't want to be there.

Neen tells a story of a late visit to the place we worked with her, and some blokes turning up to secure the site while she and April were shooting. They decided they didn't really want to do it that day, after the tog took a few shots of them with the models next to them.
Chrism8 Avatar
Chrism8 16 1.1k 34 England
8 Mar 2021 10:47AM
LOL, Nee Naaa was always a very persuasive lass Smile
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
8 Mar 2021 2:04PM
April was potentially even more so! It was the two of them, I understand.

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