What Is Urban Exploration, or Urbex?
Urban exploration is generally seen as the act of accessing/exploring locations that are typically restricted to the general public. It’s also known as “UE” or “urbex” within the hobby.
Generally, it’s widely considered to be simply finding, exploring, and photographing and documenting abandoned buildings. but it also includes other types of exploration, such as roof topping, draining (sewers, drains, etc.), infiltration, or other types of locations that have restricted access.
Urban exploration and photography are mutually exclusive activities, though most explorers have cameras on hand to capture their adventures. I’ve been fascinated by this form of photography over the last year and have learned a great deal about this art form from a number of far more experienced people in the urbex community. To become an urban explorer is easier than you might think, but I caution, it isn’t for everybody.
A Couple of Disclaimers about Urban Exploring:
It can be dangerous. There is an inherent danger when exploring decaying/rotting buildings. In urban areas, you may be entering a building that’s occupied by squatters, gang members, or being torn apart by scrappers. Many times, there are little to no light, metal rebar/poles sticking out from walls/ceilings, caved in roofs, rotted floorboards, mold, asbestos, and other hazards. Explorers have fallen through floors into basements, broken legs, arms, torn ligaments, needed stitches, and even died from falls or inquires. If you do decide to become an urban explorer, please be very careful, and always be aware of your surroundings.
It can be illegal. Anyone entering an abandoned building without permission is trespassing and also could be charged with B&E, or more.
Please do not take this information as me encouraging you to do so. I’m not in any way suggesting you do any of the above. This is merely for informational purposes. I will assume no responsibility for your actions.
Take Nothing But Photos
Most urban explorers follow several “unwritten rules” of exploring. The first of those being take nothing but photos. Explorers don’t condone theft, and you should leave it as you found it.
For me personally, if I get to a location to find all access points to be sealed and the building inaccessible, I’ll leave. I do not force entry, or break/destroy anything to gain access. I do not take anything from the places I explore, no matter how rare or potential value they may have.
The second rule is to not share locations. Most urban explorers put a lot of time and work into finding locations, and researching the history of it. It’s often frowned upon to instantly ask “where is this?”. Explorers will sometimes share locations within their close circle. Another reason for not sharing locations is that it puts that location at risk for vandals, scrappers, graffiti/taggers, etc. We hate to see places get destroyed, especially those that have a historical value. This has become a bigger issue with the rise of sharing via YouTube/ Facebook Live / Instagram and “clout chasing”.
Got questions? Shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to answer and help best I can.