Wednesday, January 28, 2015

25 Things I Think About Urban Exploration Photography

When it comes to photography, I have a lot of opinions. I think a lot of different things about a lot of different things. It is having opinions that allows me to successful run a photography blog (two, actually). So I've come up with 25 things I think about urban exploration photography, in no particular order.
Keep Out The Sun - Tehachapi, California
1. What camera you use isn't important. Any camera is capable of capturing great photographs just as long the the photographer is also capable. Keep Out The Sun at the top was captured using a cell phone and it was good enough to be published in a magazine.

2. If great gear is somehow a prerequisite to creating great photographs, how can one explain the great photographs captured with cell phones, Holga's and home-made cameras? Those cameras are crappy, yet photographers were able to create real art with them.

3. A crappy camera in hand is worth two Leica's at home on a shelf.

4. What does matter in photography is photographic vision.

5. It is better to spend an hour exploring and photographing an abandoned building than to spend an hour on a photography forum.

6. Photography is just as much about being in the right place at the right time than anything else. If you want to capture a great photograph, that means putting yourself in a position to do so.

7. Any abandoned structure is interesting and could potentially produce a great photograph. One of my favorite images, On A Brighter Day, below, which was recently published in a magazine, was captured at a building that had half of a wall standing and that was about it (basically, what you see in the image). The rest of the building had been completely destroyed by a fire.
On A Brighter Day - Tehachapi, California
8. Photography is very simple. Anyone can do it, and it doesn't take much effort to learn how everything works.

9. Great photography is very difficult. It takes years of practice to even begin to understand it.

10. Less is more in your camera bag. A simple camera set up is better than a complex camera set up because you are more likely to use something if you can just grab-and-go.

11. Less is more in composition. A simple photograph is better than a complex one. Almost always a photograph is better when it includes the least amount possible to convey the point.

12. Don't over-complicate things. Too much complexity in any part of your photography will weigh you down over time.

13. Photographing close to home is good. You'd be surprised at how many photographic opportunities are not all that far away from you. Besides, this allows you to become an expert of your local area.

14. If you see an abandoned place that you want to explore and photograph, don't wait! If you hesitate, by the time you get around to it the place may be closed or demolished. The place where the photograph below was captured is now off-limits and security cameras ensure that you don't enter.
Forgotten Faucet - Tehachapi, California
15. Besides that, vandals will destroy a place, and what was a few months ago a great scene is no longer. Waiting in urban exploration is not usually a good thing.

16. It's a good idea to return to places you've already explored and photographed. It's likely you left a few good images behind, and you may be able to improve on some photographs that you attempted the first time around.

17. Don't have G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). It takes your time, attention, money and energy away from what matters most in photography.

18. Always use an extra dose of caution when visiting abandoned sites. Most of them are not safe, and you really don't want to get hurt. That's a quick way to ruin your day.

19. You should have someone who's opinion you trust critique your photographs. You might be overlooking something that will significantly improve your photography.

20. When it comes to critics, be careful who you listen to. Not all opinions are created equal. Pay no attention to destructive criticism.

21. A quick post-processing workflow is great. The less time sitting in front of a computer the better. Find any shortcuts you can.

22. Want the look of film? Shoot film. Or, use Alien Skin Exposure software, which is pretty close. The image below was made to look like it was captured with film, but it is in fact digital.
Vintage Abandoned Ranch - Rosamond, California
23. Don't let the number of "likes" or "stars" or "favorites" fool you about a photograph. Some of my best images get the least amount of social media attention, while some of my worst have received a lot of attention.

24. Photography rules should be ignored. They're meant to insure consistently good results, while rarely allowing for great results. Try to be unconventional.

25. Try to photograph daily, and never let a week go by without using your camera.

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