“FEAR” Urban Exploration

I have always been attracted to the more adventurous things in life. That sense of adventure applies to all things, rather it be scaling buildings and cranes in the city, climbing mountains to get to the summit, or exploring the dilapidated and forgotten parts of this country. I like to seek out the adventure in every opportunity and have come to understand that I am not only attracted to documenting it, but also attracted to the challenge of actually getting the shot. So naturally when I was given an opportunity to display three pieces in a gallery show revolving around the main theme “FEAR, An Homage To All Things That Go Bump In The Night” I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me to dive into the depths of the unknown.

My birthday falls on Halloween day, so naturally I felt I had to try and raise the bar on the type of images I would be capturing for the “FEAR” show. I felt it was my duty to not only get good shots, but shots that told a story and left the viewer creating stories of their very own. I wanted viewers to create that story in their head with out any other influencing elements other than the photo itself. I found after some time that people would create that story while viewing, before even realizing that they had applied one to it themselves.

In all of my photography I generally try to set out to wow the viewer, that is my main objective from the start. At some point along the way I realized that photography is a combo of understanding many parts. The combo of all of these parts when put together can really equal a successful shot. These parts include everything from the willing ness to take the risk for the shot as well as the understanding of your camera, as the tool that will help capture the moment you are experiencing.

1 0f 3: Found

FEAR: An Homage To All Things That Go Bump In The Night


“As I entered the mud covered basement floor of an abandoned factory in Gary, Indiana; my heart started pounding as if it was about explode through my rib cage and out of my chest. I slowly moved around trying not to make much noise in FEAR that I would find a junkie or even something if the super natural sense. A second set I stairs presented its self as if it was inviting me one level lower. As I trekked deeper below ground, I felt the air change and become much more stale and stagnant. When I reached the bottom two rooms sat divided but a concrete wall forcing me to make a decision. After a moment to collect my thoughts the choice that I made was “Go right, it feels better”. Entering the room I noticed a mirror on the far wall. I started walking towards the end of the room and turned on my flashlight and pointed right at the mirror to find my reflection stating right back at me.

When you find yourself in a situation like this all logic starts to fade as FEAR takes over. No longer are you a rational person, but a visitor in a unknown alternate world. Considering the above, as I saw my reflection the only thing that crossed my mind was “THATS ANOTHER PERSON IN THE ROOM WITH ME!” I quickly shouted out and threw my flashlight behind me as if that was going to be a deterrent to my new found friend in the room with me. After a minute to collect myself and realizing that it was just my reflection, I decided that was one of the best depictions of FEAR that I have encountered. I immediately set up my camera gear to recreate the scene that almost had me running out if there screaming.

The FEAR with in yourself.


To try and achieve this goal, I started out by heading down to Gary, Indiana. Many people refer to this place, as “Scary Gary” so I felt it would be a perfect place to start and see what kind of things I could find. I would drive my motorcycle down to Gary, equipped with my camera, 2 flashlights, a tripod and of course my trusty knife (a mans got to protect himself). Not knowing the types of things and situations I would find I ambitiously explored all the abandoned buildings I could find in the area. I explored everything from an old forgotten church, old post office, dilapidated apartment complex, and an old historic screw and bolt factory. I even managed to explore the original “Jackson 5 Theatre” a historic piece of property that at one time was one of the most popular theaters in the country, and now sits and rots away with the rest of the town still standing.

The structures I would find would make any passing person stop in awe of the beauty that was left to collapse. At first glance, it would come off quite sad. How could people just let these beautiful structures fade away like this? After some time the scene would start to shift in tone and what was left were images of mystery and uncertainty… at least in my imagination that’s what I saw. I ran into every type of situation you can imagine. Every thing from the homeless and drug addicted to gang members making deals in seedy and poorly lite areas. I even came across the remains of political corruption, left to remind us that this city stood no chance even at its highest levels. Some of the lower level basements that I would explore would have strange vibes to them, and upon entering you could feel the air become more stagnant and noticeably change in tone and quality. It was all a very scary and adrenaline inducing experiences and I was happy with the shots that came out of the adventures.

2 0f 3: Discover

FEAR: An Homage To All Things That Go Bump In The Night


“As a kid I always loved the darker side of stories, the mysterious oddities of the unknown and beyond. I understood from the beginning that my imagination could be more powerful than any story could tell. So naturally as I began my explorations in Gary, Indiana I visited the ever so popular Gary Methodist Church, to try and gain some inspiration for the pieces I was going to produce for the FEAR show. I arrived at the church just before dusk to try and get some nice light casting across the dilapidated remains, of what once was a house of worship to a thriving manufacturing economy. But soon that economy would collapse, and the remains of what once was, would become forgotten. As you walk around the town of Gary, it presents itself to you as a desolate, obsolete, and forgotten place. While I roamed the abandoned remains of the city, I couldn’t help but let my imagination run wild with tales of what may have actually happened to the people of Gary. 

Walking down the aisle towards the stained glass I thought, what if the people of Gary were abducted? What if they discovered a sacred artifact that opened a portal to another world? What if on one late night, they just all simply vanished into thin air, never to be seen again. Leaving their loved ones behind to discover a greater story to tell then the ones they were living. Most likely none of these scenarios played out the way I saw them in my head, but that didn’t stop me from trying to discover the stories that may lay covered in the fallen remains of what once was Gary, Indiana.

The FEAR of the forgotten.” 


Part of my attraction to photography has been the fact that you as a photographer by default also become a documentarian. I have always loved reading historic stories of how this country came to be, and with my love of history I typically am very curious on the story and history behind each structure that I explore. Some of the things you find out that happened in these spaces can change your whole perspective on the building and the final result of the photo you took.

When walking through these places you can’t help but to try and imagine what it must have been like years ago when the economy was good and people walked through the halls of these forgotten structures. You think about what it must of been like when these structures were vibrant and full of life. Now they sit and decompose and waste away, as the rest of the world continues moving on. I guess you could say that it’s all part of life, and much like us humans these buildings have a life span as well. Now it’s our job to pay our respects and document the remaining days it has left on this earth.

3 0f 3: Searching

FEAR: An Homage To All Things That Go Bump In The Night


 “We are always searching but never satisfied. Always seeking resolution and never gratified. Always seeking out the exuberant and foreign places, full of mysteries and stories to uncover and find. These stories have been locked up and buried beneath these floors and these stories have been exhumed never to be restored. These places give you a inside look into a world that does not function like the rest. This is a world with its own rules, and will remind you that it owes you nothing but uncertainty and death. You are at its disposal, and it does not FEAR you, but it is you that FEARS it. Around every corner is something new and unexpected, around every corner you find yourself stoping to catch a breath. Every step taken is another step celebrated, but you play by its rules and listen to it wisely, and you talk to it softly and whisper to it, “please don’t hurt me.” 

You build a relationship with these places only to tell their stories, not to disrespect it in hopes of fame or glory. If only we could see the footsteps that once walked these pews, an image of lightheartedness would be exposed. As you scan the room looking to explore, your flashlight lands on a door. You stop for a minute and think “how will we get through there, and what’s left to explore?”

The FEAR of the unknown.” 

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