Freaktography: Photographing the typically off-limits and unseen parts of civilization. The photographer behind Freaktography is a modern day explorer choosing to seek out and show the wonders and mysteries of our own backyards through unconventional photography and adventurous Urban Exploration.
The work of Freaktography has been featured worldwide in print, online and broadcast appearing in Warner Bro’s “The Flash” and the major motion picture “Lavender”. His work and adventures have been featured across North America on Buzzfeed, The Weather Channel, Canadian Geographic, CTV News, Petapixel, HGTV and more. Globally he has been featured in The Daily Mail and The Telegraph in the UK as well as dozens of news outlets from Italy to Australia, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Hong Kong.
In March 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 house in a small town in Ontario. This home was at the end of a street full of beautiful houses with well-manicured yards. 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. I had discovered Urban Exploration Photography thus laying the groundwork for what would become Freaktography.
Over time I developed a large batch of photographs of locations from my adventures in Urban Exploration and I decided to make a Facebook account to share them. As I learned more about the basics of photography and how to use my camera, my photos got (a little bit) better and people started following the page – and that was the official birth of “Freaktography”
What is Urban Exploration Photography?
Urban Exploration Photography can take on any number of descriptions and wear many hats. It is a hobby performed by a person with an interest in exploring the parts of civilization that are typically off limits, such as abandoned places, underground drains and rooftops. But it doesn’t end there, some Urban Exploration enthusiasts go so far as to infiltrate active buildings, ships, train tunnels and power plants, and it also goes as small as a simple abandoned farmhouse on a back road.
My 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 keep it to around 20, 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!
Learning how to use my camera and teach myself the techniques and fundamentals of photography is my biggest challenge in Urban Exploration and traditional photography.. I have taught myself everything, through trial and error, reading books, web research and by the lovingly harsh criticism of those in the Urban Exploration community. Add to that, trying to establish a workflow with post-processing and to learn how to use these programs to give my images a style that I like.
What do I enjoy the most?
First and foremost I love the excitement of Urban Exploration, which is why I do this. I love scouting out a location, searching for a weak spot or a way in and that moment when you realize you’ve made it. This feeling more so in a larger industrial location and medical institution. On the other side, once I come home and put the work out for those who are interested in following what I do – I love to read and hear what the images make people feel. When it comes to roof topping – people are often terrified, when it comes to abandoned houses and hospitals people get sad and nostalgic and they are reminded of their childhood, or their grandparents house. When it comes to large industrial locations and factories – no one feels a thing, except fellow explorers who know what it’s like to get into a spot like that! So to back up 1) I love the thrill of exploring and 2) I love the fact that people are actually interested in what I do and that my images and stories evoke emotion in the viewers.
What is my Message?
1 – When photographing abandonment, it 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 abandoned buildings you could ever imagine.
2 – 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.
Since this page is all about me, here is a gallery of self portraits I have taken over the years!
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