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Interviews

The Excitement and Danger of Urbex Photography | Interview With ‘The Other Side’

By Paul Faecks on August 9th 2014

Urban Exploration (Urbex) photography combines danger and excitement, adventure and discovery.  It is all about photographing so called “lost places,” places that have been abandoned by humans and stand eerily silent.

The Other Side is an Urbex photographer from Belgium that we have reported about in the past when he was threatened with one year in jail and a 15.000€ fine. He’s granted us an exclusive interview and shares with us some stories from his Urbex adventures.

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How did you get started in photography?

About 10 years ago, I bought my first digital camera. I wanted to take some beautiful holiday pictures when I was traveling to Spain and I was sure I could do that with that camera (Canon 350D). I think I saw all of Spain though my camera. Settings on full automatic, of course. What a disappointment when I got home.

So, I started learning and after a while, I got better equipment and more experience. About 5 years ago, I started photographing abandoned places. At first, it was very innocent, a local factory or house.. After a while it got more serious, I started traveling all over Europe and taking a lot more risks for that one great photo.

[REWIND: URBEX FASHION SHOOT BTS]

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A few years ago, I also started working for companies as a freelance photographer. For my latest assignment, I had to travel to Africa for documenting an energy project in Togo. Dreams came true for me. Very soon, I’ll start selling prints, and I’m working on my first book. All abandoned pictures are taken using HDR , a technique I only use for this kind of photography.

[PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT: HDR PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP]

What were the craziest things that happened to you while taking photos in ‘Lost Places?’

Lots of stories to tell.  I’ve met junkies, homeless people, mad owners, a lot of police and security, dogs or other animals. At one industrial site, we wanted to take a few pictures, we knew it would be difficult to get in. We got in through the roof and got out again without any troubles. We were happy, we had our pictures and it was much more easy than expected. But on our way out, we got spotted by a group of about 10 people.

They started yelling and then we noticed they were skinheads. Then I heard things like ‘Heil Hitler’ and ‘fascist.’ They looked very aggressive and they started running towards us.  I can honestly say that I have never run so fast. We were lucky, there was a way out very close to our car.  I’ve never seen any pictures of that place by another Urbexer. The machine we photographed looks like some sort of UFO. You’ll understand why we call that one “The Nazi UFO”

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How do you find those unique places all around the world?

Research and networking! You can find a lot of places by simply following the news, reading articles or just looking out for them when driving your car. But most importantly, you need to have some good and trustworthy contacts in every country. 

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They will help you when you visit their country and you’ll do the same for them. Trust is important, you don’t want to give [just] anyone these locations. So it may take a while before you get a small list with persons you can trust. Too much theft and vandalism is one of the reasons doing this kind of photography is getting much harder.

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Are there any photographers that have inspired you along the way?

In general my absolute number 1 photographer is Steve McCurry. I really really love his work. If I had to choose someone who inspired me for photographing abandoned places, I can think of no one better than Yannick Wilrycx. He’s a very good friend of mine, and has been doing this for more than 10 years. I could not have done it without his help.

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What gear do you use to capture your images?

I use:

The lens that I use the most often for my Urbex work is the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L.

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Thank you very much to The Other Side for this interview!

What do you think about Urbex Photography? Would you take the risk to capture images like these?

Credit: All photographs by The Other Side are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

Terms: #Fisheye Lens
About

Paul Faecks is a portrait- and fine art photographer, based in Berlin. If you want to check out his latest work, you can do so by following him on Instagram or by liking his Facebook Page

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Peter van Eijk

    Amazing pictures ! Just great.

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  2. Brian Drumm

    Great read. Wasn’t the picture of the red snow part of another article where he was no longer allowed at that location because someone went in after him and vandalized them?

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  3. claude laramée

    Indeed there is beauty in decay, but he also knows how to photograph it well! My fear is rotten barn floor covered with hay or hidden old country house’s water wells :-(

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  4. Behailu Gebremicael

    What an idea to comes up with

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  5. MARTIN MIANO

    Really great work they do .. the images they capture are stunning makes me wanna try a similar adventure

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  6. Steven Pellegrino

    Nice interview. I really admire the photographers who have the ability to go into these places to share these photos. I shoot a lot of urban landscape, but don’t have the confidence to take it to the next level like Urbex photographers do.

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    • Aidyn Chen

      Totally agree. I New York street and will never have the guts to go into these kind of places. It give me the chill. What if i get caught or the building collapse?

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    • Steven Pellegrino

      AIDYN, safety has been my biggest concern. You don’t want to do this type of work by yourself. I shoot a lot of street photography and go into some questionable areas of town, but I always have an exit (even if it’s just crossing the street). This is something else all together.

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  7. Aidyn Chen

    Urbex took some beautiful pictures. The subject and scenes are really inspiring. I wish one day I will have the guys to do the same thing as him.

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