Urban exploring captures the subtle beauty of abandoned architecture and urban landscapes.
And, with greater risk comes a rare reward as we’ve witnessed through some of the mind-blowing photographs taken by urban explorers who gamble arrest or potential injury by scouting more impressive locations than their peers.
Urban explorers, otherwise known as the urbex or UE community, are photographers who capture a unique perspective of cities and manmade structures such as concrete towers, bridges, tunnels, subway stations, and stairwells.
Vancouver urbex fan, Kelen Loewen (@kapturethelight) shared some of his insight on the UE community and what makes this genre of photography so significant and special.
What is urban exploring and how did you get into the community?
Urban exploring is the Instagram fuelled sensation in which a photographer builds an intimate relationship with his (or any) city through exploration with curiosity, courage, and dare.
It’s about finding the nooks and crannies that fall overlooked by the average person while walking down the street. It’s about seeing where that alley leads and what’s at the top of that stairwell. It’s about adding a new voice to the conversation.
Above all, it’s the adrenaline rush from going somewhere unique and possibly hard to get to.Kelen Loewen
Some of the best photos come from the most adventurous photographers who take great risks to get to certain locations. I do not endorse lock picking or fence jumping, but it’s evident that some of the greatest photos come from locations that are not easily accessible by the public.
These lucrative locations are extremely desirable to urban explorers and members of the community are secretive with their locations for multiple reasons including legality, identity, and simply that they don’t want everyone knowing about the locations where they shoot.
Urban exploring allows for a new dimension of untold stories to be portrayed through visual creation.Kelen Loewen
Getting creative with locations, time of day, outfits, props, and editing techniques can transform your city into something out of a movie.
For example, recently I was exploring the city of Vancouver and I stumbled upon a location that I instantly knew held immense potential for grungy portraits that could tell a certain type of story. I came back two days later with a friend (@ryanthomassontag) so that he could take photos of me in the way I envisioned them in my head.
What makes urban exploring so alluring to photographers?
I had become a victim of falling blind to the beauty of my own city. Born and raised in Vancouver, I’m pretty used to seeing the sights. I’ve travelled in Europe and every time I come home I am astonished at how unique and beautiful Vancouver is.
Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase fades away after a few weeks of being home and once again I would trundle through my days, oblivious to the wonders surrounding me.
Urban exploring revived my love for my city and heightened the sensitivity of my senses. My eyes opened a little bit wider than they ever have in my life, and now I find myself constantly wondering what the view of the city would like from the top of that building, or thinking “what’s on the other side of that fence, I need to find out,” so I come back at 3am and I find out.
It’s not uncommon to have chats with security officers and being kindly told to leave. If I can give one tip for shooting in locations of questionable legality, it’s to wear running shoes.Kelen Loewen
Kelen’s community challenge:
Grab a friend or two, and make it a mission to get out there and learn something new about where you live. I implore you to attempt to find a unique view from within your city, and share it with the Latergramme community by using #LTGRxUrbex.
Some of Kelen’s favourite urbex explorers:
About Kelen Loewen:
I live to explore, and I do so with my camera at my side.
The hustle and bustle of Vancouver life is great; the inspirational architecture, the amazing artists I meet through Instagram, the businesses I work with, the talented models and stunning cars I get to take photos of. All of that is truly great, but there’s something unique about the overwhelming satisfaction that taking nature photos gives me. I aim to share my wanderlust with everyone who views my photos.
My favourite thing on the planet is to pack up the car, road trip to Alberta, go camping, and wake up at 6am to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake. That’s what life is all about to me.
You can see more of Kelen’s work at by visiting his portfolio: Kapture the Light.
Header Image by Alex Wong via StockSnap