For your images, you seek out abandoned, dilapidated, or even ruined spaces. Do you remember what first attracted you to these situations and structures?
Urban exploration is the main subject of my photography. I guess abandoned places and photography have always interested me: I have trespassed on empty properties since I was a teenager, but I first combined it with photography when I got my first SLR camera in 2009.
How do you discover these places?
There are lots of different ways, really; abandoned places are everywhere. It might be an old house you spot while walking the dog, a factory you see on the drive to work, or a decommissioned power plant mentioned in the newspaper. The more you start looking, the more you find! Google Maps is a fantastic exploratory resource since you can go anywhere from your desktop.
The resulting images are very beautiful, yet also emanate a sense of hopelessness. What mood are you trying to convey with your pictures?
For me, it has always been about capturing the things I see. I feel privileged to explore sights very few people get to experience. I want others to see these amazing spaces; places left to rot after they become too expensive to maintain.
Some of the images hint at “better“ times. Do you ever research the properties’ prior use or look?
Wherever possible, we do. It is nice to see what they looked like when they were functioning buildings and at their best. Often enough, there is also a rich history behind it all that makes for interesting reading. Most of the time, however, we tend to keep this information to ourselves and limit what we post online about the buildings. This may sound selfish, but once a location becomes public knowledge, the site tends to decline much more rapidly as it attracts vandals and metal thieves.
Placing abandoned spaces, buildings, and even churches in the limelight also casts a shadow on those who left them behind. Do your images critique society? Or are you hoping for rediscovery and a possible second lease of life?
It is in people’s nature to waste things – and these buildings are testament to that. It does matter how much a building cost or how ornate it is: Once it becomes cheaper to knock it down than to renovate, this is generally what will happen. Some places do get saved and renovations can occur, but all too often beautiful buildings are destroyed to make way for other things.
So, do you feel like your work is changing anything?
Not really. My main reason and drive is to document what I see and to have fun doing it. It has always been about having fun – the images are just a popular side effect.
Interview: Lia Pack
Header image: Dan Marbaix