Top 10 Tips for the Urban Exploration Photography

So you’re looking forward to getting some great shots but have you taken everything into consideration? Take it from experience, you don’t want to be frantically searching for that torch you are sure that you packed or lifting your camera to be greeted with a dead battery. These tips should point you in the right direction and keep you from making the simple mistakes that many people don’t think about.

10 – Transport.

If where you’re going is far away, obviously driving would be the ideal way of getting there. If you don’t have a car, bus transport will most likely get you within reasonable walking distance but always remember to carry a little bit of money in a safe place to pay for fares.

9 – Food.

There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of nowhere when suddenly the munchies strike. Depending on how long you are planning on staying at your location, something to eat might be a very good idea. Make something to eat before you leave, or you could always call in at Mcdonalds on the way.

8 – Tripod.

You want to limit the amount you have to carry but a lightweight tripod is a brilliant thing to have with you. Most places you’d want to go to wont have working electricity so poor lighting conditions are a big problem for the Urbex photographer. Long Exposures will be your friend here, not only does this mean you can get those shots to show off, but it also gets your thinking more about the amount of light in your photograph and how you can use it.

7 – What not to take.

Don’t take things such as; saws, screwdrivers, rope, bolt cutters or hammers. You might find some people telling you that these things come in handy for getting past the odd gate or over the odd wall, but remember that somebody built that wall in first place. Even if where you are photographing is a public place, getting caught with tools like that will cause suspicion and will most likely result in you being asked to leave. The best advice for this is if it’s locked. Leave it that way.

6 – Don’t take souvenirs.

Even if its just a rustly nail on the floor or a bit of broken rubble, taking things from sites is a bad idea. Not only might this land you in trouble yourself, it also casts a bad light on other urban photographers. People are less likely to like the idea of having somebody walking round if their likely to be leaving with something which isn’t theirs tucked under their arm.

5 – Research the area.

Google Maps is an invaluable tool in your arsenal. You can find out the best routes in and out of your chosen site, where best to park the car and a handy little extra is that most of the time you can find information on the area given to you, All without leaving the comfort of your home. Of course those of you with smart phones could do this on the way. If the area is public then you should be fine but if it is private property, you want to ask the owners permission first.

4 – Take a friend.

When I go to take photographs of urban environments my brother usually accompanies me, not only do you have company in those lonely and quite places, but you also have somebody to help if you fall and twist your ankle. Safety is in numbers. If abandoned, the homeless or drug users might use a lot of these places. Be sensible when your walking round, don’t make too much noise and be ready to leave if you find anybody that could be threatening.

3 – Charge your phone.

If you get lost you’ll need a way of calling for help, taking out your phone and seeing you have a flashing red battery will not be a welcome sight. Getting your mum to come pick you up is far better than being stranded someplace you may not be familiar with.

2 – Spare Camera Batteries.

A little expensive but worth the cost. Long exposures will drain your battery faster than you might realise. A dead battery will end your day call an abrupt end to your shoot. You might want to invest in a good camera bag, the best are rucksack type bags that can hold any extra lenses, batteries and any of the above I have talked about. A decent waterproof bag can be found for around £50.

1 – Use Your Head.

Maybe the most obvious of advice but also the most important, be sensible. Watch out for hazards such as rotting floor boards, broken glass and in some places, needles. Tough gloves are a brilliant thing to have in instances like this. Don’t cause trouble when you are there.

Take only photographs, leave only footprints.


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