Guide to Urban Exploration Photography

The Ultimate Guide to Urban Exploration Photography

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Urban Exploration Photography, also known as Urbex, is the art of traversing vacant buildings and properties. Urban Explorers use their immense creativity to access places which are concealed from society and difficult to reach.

There is an inexplicable allure to abandoned places; an aura of mystery and adventure beckons you to discover what has been long forgotten.

Once they do so, many of them take awe-inspiring photographs of aesthetically stunning places. They are the pioneers of modern frontiers; artists who venture into dangerous territories for the sake of beauty.

Guide to Urban Exploration Photography

Okay – did we sell you on the pitch? Do you want to become an Urban Explorer yourself? Here is the Ultimate Guide to Urban Exploration Photography.

Discovering the Perfect Location – Where to take the shots

The first method is the simplest: walking around town. Indeed, the most spontaneous and perhaps the most adventurous way of approaching this hobby is by wandering around urban areas.

You can use your keen detective eyes to uncover a hidden nook around the corner that leads to a ruin. You can visit a construction site that has never quite been completed.

You can approach Urban Exploration in the spirit of discovery by choosing not to use external information sources such as the Internet.

Discovering the Perfect Location

Going Online

Alternatively, if you do not feel like wasting countless hours trying to stumble upon a vacant warehouse, you can always ask for help; if you happen to know a fellow Urban Explorer, you can seek their counsel. More realistically, you can always log onto the Internet.

There are numerous forums, message boards, and social media groups that will gladly provide you with the whereabouts of a nearby location that is perfect for Urban Exploration Photography.

Even if all else fails, you can always rely on good old Google Search to do the research for you. You can even utilize Google Maps or Flickr to find some areas that are best-suited for this kind of an escapade.

urban exploration photography instagram
via instagram @saintdrake


Concerning the legal part of this undertaking, there is both good and bad news. The bad news is that trespassing is illegal and you can technically get punished for invading “private” property.

The good news is that nobody cares. Do not worry about the authorities chasing you down because you took some photographs at a place no one ever goes to – they have better things to do with their time.

You can expect the local police department to like your Urban Photography pictures on Facebook and Instagram. The abandoned locations you ought to explore typically do not have an active property owner. The law should not pose be an issue unless the location is restricted for a specific reason.

On the other hand, just because no one is monitoring your activity doesn’t mean you should behave recklessly. Try not to damage the property more than it already is. Just get in there and take high-quality photographs; do not be a hooligan.

Urban Exploration Trespassing



This is by far the most important section of the Ultimate Guide to Urban Exploration Photography – Safety. Safety first! These places are notoriously dangerous.

Anticipate encountering glass shards, rusty nails, precarious floors that crumble upon touching, falling ceilings and chandeliers – you get the gist. As a newbie, you should follow a set of strict rules in order to protect yourself from the aforementioned perils.

Always bring a companion with you – going alone is a gamble. There is always a chance of a rooftop collapsing right on top of you. You can minimize your chances of getting painfully injured and/or trapped in an unknown location by taking along a friend with you. They can help you out in case you find yourself in a difficult situation. Additionally, notify people where you are going so that the police can know where to find you if you go missing.


Bringing along your mate is not going to make you invincible to physical threats. Do these things to protect your body.

Wear multiple layers of clothing and thick boots – this way if you step or a nail or a splinter, you will conveniently avoid an unpleasant trip to the ER.

Knives, flashlights, torches, and matches – light is required to see where you are going and to take decent shots, hence you should conceive of a way to illuminate the area. Grab a knife to get rid of cobwebs, vines, and similar nuisances.

urban exploration preparation

Taking the Shot

We’ve come to the most exciting part of the Ultimate Guide to Urban Exploration Photography –actually doing photography. These areas are definitely not as well-lit as photo shoot studios, neither are they as safe or convenient.

Go light with photography gadgets as too many of them would impede on your ability to move through tricky places. However, you should absolutely take the essentials.

A tripod is crucial – these locations can be quite dark for self-explanatory reasons. Bringing a tripod allows you take a long exposure in order to compensate for the lack of brightness. Furthermore, you can take a flash camera to assist you in the fight against dark pictures.

A wide camera lens is useful – you will take these pictures indoors in confined spaces which warrant a wide angle camera lens. This is critical if you want to capture the atmosphere of a more spacious room or chamber.

Maintenance equipment – these areas can be quite dirty and dusty so you should take lens wipes just in case. Also, take spare batteries to avoid a scenario in which you will have traveled far to an abandoned property only to have your battery die.

The rest is just photography fundamentals. You will know what to do when you gaze upon these epic spaces if you have a keen eye for taking good shots.

Taking the Shot


We hope that our Ultimate Guide to Urban Exploration Photography introduced you to this spectacular hobby which is gaining popularity around the world. Go out there and take some magnificent shots of urban beauty!

Download: Urbex People Lightroom Presets