There’s something deeply poignant about abandoned places that I’m sure we can all see and appreciate, Urbex photographers or otherwise. However, having a strong interest and eye for urban exploration photography have their advantages.
For one, it becomes a creative outlet for visual storytelling. It also allows us to get a glimpse of a life or point in time that has passed, as we can see in the works of Taipei-based travel photographer and urban explorer Bo Wen Huang.
In a nutshell, urban exploration isn’t just about going to abandoned places to have a look around and take random snaps. For many urbex photographers like Huang, however, it’s more about capturing the mood and character of a place, and hopefully, get some clues on its forgotten history.
Traversing mood and melancholy
“The sun is still there, but the building is empty.” It’s the only thing Huang wrote about this collection of snaps he took in an abandoned house in Taiwan, but I think it encapsulates everything really well. Not empty of stuff, but of life.
While locations like it are already somber on their own, he was able to photograph different spots in a way that makes us feel like we’re navigating the mood and melancholy of the place — one room at a time.
I find this set to be particularly fascinating because it shows a location that is still intact for the most part. There’s significant wear and tear in the house and it definitely looks like it’s been abandoned for quite some time. But there are also still a lot of personal items left there, and it sets up the mood and impact for the viewers as Huang takes us around.
Piecing together forgotten memories
This build up is one of the things I find fascinating about urban exploration. Certain areas of the place tend to have their own look or emotion, but ultimately, they are still part of a bigger narrative. Browsing through each shot feels like putting together the pieces of a forgotten memory. By taking note of the items and details captured in each shot, we get an idea (or at least some major clues) about the people who used to live there.
So, if you ever get the chance to try urban exploration and taking photos of your visit, make sure to refer to this set to see how to effectively capture the mood, character and story of the place. Leave things as is and be mindful of your surroundings. Take a good look around before taking photos. Maybe do a couple of visits first to see what the light looks in different spots it the house at different times of the day. Then, choose your spots and angles carefully, as Huang did in this beautiful body of work.
All photos by Bo Wen Huang. Used with Creative Commons permission.