An Introduction to Urbex – Dan Marbaix

Abandoned Chambre of Commerce Belgium

Seeing as jimmy has been kind enough to ask me to be a regular contributor to this fine online publication, I shall start by introducing myself. My name is Dan and I’m a 32 year old photographer from London. I take mainly travel and urban exploration photos.

I started to take photography seriously when I was travelling a lot with work and lucky enough to see some amazing places – from Hawaii to Iceland and many other wonderful locations in between. To the uninitiated, urban exploration is the entering and exploring of abandoned buildings (and sometimes live ones) and is sometimes shortened to urbex or UE.

I got into urbex and HDR around the same time in 2009 after taking my bridge camera to an abandoned mental hospital and not being happy with the resulting images. After seeing the work party bouncy castle of other urban explorers like Andre Govia and the Mechanical Monster I fell in love with HDR and the way it worked so well with the abandoned environments to bring out every detail.

Natural history Museum London main hall

This lead me to Trey Radcliff’s work and tutorials and before long I’d bought myself an SLR. I was instantly hooked and have not looked back since. I had a bit of a misspent youth and have since grown up but urbex gave me that misbehaviour buzz – without the consequences. In the UK, trespassing is a civil offence so although you sometimes have run ins with the police and security there is little they can do as long as you don’t break in or steal anything.The motto of urbex is ‘take only pictures leave only footprints’ and it sounds corny but if you stick to it there’s very little trouble you can get in (in the UK).

The fun came in the form of finding the places, working out how to get in, avoiding security, exploring the often vast structures and hopefully getting some nice images to process after the event. Thanks to urbex and Flickr I’ve met some fantastic like-minded people (along with the odd plonker) and travelled throughout Europe in search of the abandoned wonders of the world.

Zombie Engagement shoot

Urban exploration has grown massively in popularity due to the Internet and the part of the human nature to be curious about our environment. As with anything, as UE becomes more popular it becomes more mainstream and some will complain about the number of people doing it.

Granted it means some sites get trashed (this can be avoided by not naming locations) and others will become harder to get into, but it also brings with it more locations and forces people to be more creative with their shots and processing. I for one welcome that challenge. If you’re looking at getting into urban exploring join a forum like talkurbex and don’t go alone, many locations can be dangerous and remote.

Until next time stay safe and thanks for reading.

Abandoned medieval church in Belgium

Penck BMW Z1

You can follow my work here Or like it on Facebook if that’s your bag