Freaktography Featured in Reclaim Magazine
Reclaim magazine is a high-quality, informative and visually stunning interiors magazine aimed at readers with a passion for unique design and decoration. Building on the upcycling and vintage movement in Britain, the magazine showcases the work of the most talented reclaim and salvage designers, alongside an eclectic mix of features on subjects from the best reclamation yards and salvage fairs, to social enterprise projects and properties of historical significance.
With sustainability at its heart, the magazine aims to be the ultimate sourcebook for people who delight in unearthing curiosities and treasures that tell a story. In a world of the mass-produced, people long for something unique. Reclaim will give readers just that; offering an inspirational insight into where to hunt for unique decorative items, what to buy and how to use them to transform a home.
Thanks so much for talking to Reclaim, we’re fascinated by your work. Could you tell readers what urban exploration is?
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you and for showing interest in my work and in the genre. Urban Exploration Photography, officially is defined as the study of parts of civilization that are normally unseen or off-limits, such as abandoned structures, drains, rooftops or active facilities. Another way to describe it is a general interest in the exploration and/or documentation of places you’re not supposed to be!
How did you first get involved?
In March of 2012, before I had ever heard of Urban Exploration Photography or coined the phrase Freaktography a friend told me a story about an old abandoned (allegedly haunted) house in a small town in Ontario, Canada. This home was at the end of a street full of beautiful houses with well-manicured yards. After a number of unfortunate and frightening happenings over the years, the owner fled and never returned – advising the town that no one is to even live in this house again. . The story of this abandoned and derelict house piqued my interest and I did some research to learn more.
In this research I discovered an entire community of people who visit abandoned places, photograph them and share the photos and stories online, this was called Urban Exploration. I had a fairly decent camera at the time so I started driving around the back roads of my community seeking out abandoned places to visit and photograph them. I had discovered Urban Exploration Photography thus laying the groundwork for what would ultimately become Freaktography.
What do you love about it?
So many things, for one – it’s the excitement, the risk and never knowing just what I might walk into. Another reason I love this so much is the beauty to be found in a decaying building – seeing what time does to a room over years and years of neglect and natures toll. I also enjoy the reactions from those who follow the work and the feelings/emotions that these photographs can give to a total stranger who I will never meet.
What fascinates you about abandoned properties/lives frozen in time?
I’m always amazed and fascinated by the things that are left behind, I can’t get into all of the details of the many things I have found because that would increase your page count of the magazine and jack up the cost!! I am most fascinated by pop culture and finding something from an era long ago, whether it is one specific item, or an entire way of decorating and interior design. I was once in a home that was top to bottom decorated in the mid-century style of the Brady Bunch home, shag carpet, bright flower print curtains, bright bed sheets and terribly ugly couches – but it was fascinating to be standing in this place, stopped in time.
In Reclaim, we feature many items that have been salvaged from the past. Do you have an interest in antiques/vintage items?
I absolutely do, growing up my mother collected antiques and we would often visit antique stores and flea markets so I have always had a special interest in such items. It can be heartbreaking to walk in to an old house and see something that I know needs to be saved or donated or passed along – however nothing in any of these places is mine to take.
Could you tell us about a couple of obscure/interesting things you’ve come across?
This could take a while but I will try and keep it short. I was in a house once and I found magazines from 1953, the headline on the cover read “Why Your Boyfriend Wants to Marry a Virgin” and the stories inside the magazine read: “Every Girl Has a Weak Moment”, “I Was a Soldiers Pick Up”, “I Was a Prude When it Came to Love”. I have found expensive china and silverware, gramophones that only play when you wind them up, coin collections, stamp collections, I found a log book dated from the mid-1800’s, stuffed Deer heads, record collections – this list goes on and on!
Do you ever remove anything from the properties your photograph?
That right there is one of the most often asked questions and I can answer with 100% honesty that I do not remove anything. I might move some items around to get a better photograph but I’ve not taken anything for my own personal use or interests or to give to another person. This can be difficult because there have been so many items I’ve found that I KNOW will be destroyed when the house is a) looted by thief’s, vandalized by kids, burned by arsonists or pulled down to the ground my mother nature. Two reasons why I don’t take things 1) I live in a small condo and simply have no room and 2) it’s just not mine to take, every building is left vacant and abandoned for a reason and who’s to say that a property owner might not come back to eventually retrieve these items – nothing is there for me to take. All that said – I know many people who do take things from abandoned places and I pass no judgement onto them because they are likely saving an item from being buried forever once the property inevitably falls into itself and nature reclaims it all.
Do you ever get criticized/ in trouble?!
I have been caught a handful of times but only in real trouble once. I once was caught climbing to the roof of a downtown Toronto high rise building (more of that later), I has handed two trespassing tickets of $65 each in Canada a trespassing ticket is like a parking ticket. I am sometimes criticized for what I do for any number of reasons. Sometimes I am criticized because a location I have visited does not look abandoned. We have these places that have been dubbed “Time Capsule Houses”, these are houses that have been abandoned and left sitting for years, decades in some cases. Now, from what I understand in order to have dust – you need people and/or animals…if you have no people, you have little dust. If I post a photo of an abandoned home and the viewer sees no dust that it is assumed that I have broken into someone’s house while they are on vacation (or out getting milk as some have said). What the viewer does not get to experience is the terrible smell, or the piles of raccoon feces all over the house, or the hole in the roof, or the bathtub that dropped from the second floor to the main floor. Some abandoned houses, for whatever reason even still have power, or a working (rotary dial) telephone – I can’t explain that but I can guarantee you that no one in their right mind would live in a home in these conditions!
In terms of photography, what’s your creative process?
When I started out, it was as simple as 1) find a location 2) take as many photos as possible 3) dump them in an Urban Exploration Photography database website or internet forum for all to see. Not that there is anything wrong with this method, it’s how many start out. Currently, I try to not take too many shots and I consider the shot as I frame it up. I (quickly) ask myself “will I use this”, “will this shot work or will it just take up hard drive space”. Where I used to dump dozens of shots into an Urban Exploration photography gallery, now I try and practice quality over quantity, there are of course exceptions to that, sometimes it is fun to just do an old fashioned explore and put a whole set out for the followers to enjoy. Once I come home from an explore or from climbing a rooftop I will sort through all the shots taken and separate them into “yes”, “no” and “maybe” groups – as I get progressively better I find that I have far more “yes” shots and far less “no” shots. But I still have more “no” shots than I would like!
What do you hope your images will achieve?
When photographing abandonment, my hope is to give those who are viewing the images a glimpse into another side of the urban environment that most aren’t even aware of. Who would know that there is an old dilapidated tuberculosis hospital deep in a forest in New York State, and that behind those ugly boarded up windows and barbed wire fences sits one of the most beautiful stained glass capped domes you could ever imagine seeing.
When photographing on a rooftop, I think we are capturing the growth of a city and years from now people will look back at the roof topping movement currently happening and they will see how a city like Toronto grew. We will see how a city is forced to grow vertically when there is no more room to grow at the surface level, we will also see the progression of building design and how creativity in architecture can transform a skyline over time. I am just one of many, many people who are taking part in this genre within photography or “urban exploring”, and I hope that one day a few of my shots might mean something to someone.
We understand you do ‘rooftopping’ as well? What’s that?!
Thank you for noticing, I took up rooftopping in the winter of 2012 and got into it much more seriously in 2013. Rooftopping Photography is the guerrilla art of photographing cities from atop skyscrapers, buildings or construction sites. It is, quite simply climbing into the rooftop of a building/skyscraper and taking photographs and enjoying a perspective of a city that very few are able to enjoy.
Rooftopping allows us to see how a city is forced to grow vertically when there is no more room to grow at the surface level. Through this form of photography we will also see the progression of building design and how creativity in architecture can transform a skyline over time. I am just one of many, many people who are taking part in the rooftopping photography genre of “urban exploring”, and I hope that one day a few of my shots might mean something to someone.