Urbex Photography

  Art Photography

Urbex photography has gained exceptional visibility these days. Many photographers popularized thismovement andmade it known toa wider audience.Thefirstprinciples of urbex being solitude and secrecy, this popularization seems unnatural. This is indeed a hidden and prohibited activity. However, the photographers on this adventure generally did not resist the urge to share the fruits of their explorations. Photographs capturing the beauty of passing time and the decay of abandoned places flourished on social networks and in art galleries.

The GADCOLLECTION Gallery represents two photographers offering urbex photo: Romain VEILLON and Stephen WILKES (Ellis Island series).


Romain VEILLON, Waiting on an Angel, Series : Forgotten Palaces


What is urbex photo ?

Urbex (urban exploration) is a practice born in the 1970s that involves visiting abandoned and forbidden places, built and abandoned by man. These visits are "wild", since made without authorization. They are nevertheless framed by an implicit code of urbexers, with the aim of preserving as much as possible the places explored. The followers of this practice must therefore neither steal nor damage the place. Likewise, the addresses of the remains are rarely made public.

In France, this practice developed in the 1980s in the Paris region, notably with the appearance of cataphilia (visit to the catacombs). Urbexers are looking for adventure, thrills, history and photographs.


Romain VEILLON, Buzludzha, Series : Forgotten Palaces



Stephen WILKES, E3 Woman’s Ward, 1998-2003, series: Ellis Island


Photographers immerse spectators in the heart of their explorations. They try to understand the history of the place by capturing the faces of the buildings as they pass. Following bad weather or other visits, this face will never be the same. These photographs are therefore precious testimonies of the state of an abandoned place at a specific time. The photographer thus becomes a poet, sublimating these abandoned places and offering them to posterity.

Urbex photo : capturing the impact of passing time

Urbex photography essentially captures the passing time and questions the ephemeral aspect of human constructions. By photographing places disinterested by humans, the artists highlight the ravages of time on these buildings. These images also question the sustainability of human ambitions. The captured places were all built and abandoned by men. They are now neglected, no longer serving the interests of the latter. These photographs invite introspection, reminding us that everything passes. 

However, Romain VEILLON and Stephen WILKES manage to highlight the unfortunate beauty of these decaying places. The work brought to light makes it possible to illuminate these forgotten places.


Romain VEILLON, Balada Triste, 2018


Romain VEILLON, The Sonata


Stephen WILKES, E31 Administration Building, Dresser and Mirror



Stephen Wilkes, E55 Administrative Quarters


Stephen WILKES is an American photographer who notably photographed abandoned buildings on Ellis Island.



Urbex photo : capturing nature taking its rights back

Urbex photography can take many forms. It can be done with a model, embellished with light painting or by focusing only on an architectural element such as the staircase. It can also focus on the nascent nature, invading the abandoned place. The images then offer a reflection on the culture / nature opposition.

Romain Veillon, La serre du lecteur

Man wanted to tame his environment by building mighty structures. But once these places have been abandoned, the plants come back to sublimate them. These photographs are a mischievous reminder that nature always ends up taking back its rights. Whether on Ellis Island, in Europe, or in the Namib desert, the same process is observed by Stephen WILKES and Romain VEILLON.

Romain VEILLON is a French photographer doing urbex photography around the world. To see his photographs of the abandoned town of Kolmanskop, in the Namib Desert, click here.


Romain Veillon, Sands of Time


Romain Veillon, Ask the dust, Kolmanskop, Namibia 3



Stephen Wilkes, E1 Corridor 9


Stephen Wilkes, E16 Measles Ward, Sink with Snow Scene through Window


Stephen Wilkes, E12 Snow Covered Corridor



Urbex photo : immortalizing timeless interiors

However, during their explorations, urbexers can discover secluded places, untouched by time and nature. These time capsules preciously keep their integrity out of sight. By capturing these places unchanged since their abandonment, the artists do them justice while offering the viewer a journey through the ages. These remains are thrilling testimonies of a stopped life. Their intact walls cradled in light recall a flourishing past that has now disappeared.

Romain Veillon, Fado


Romain Veillon, Raggio di Luce 


Romain Veillon, The farewell


Romain Veillon, Unforgettable


Stephen Wilkes, E15 Measles Ward, Oak Files Cabinets


These immense volumes of emptiness then arouse in the viewer a feeling of timelessness and plenitude. The deserter man is replaced by a historical presence that inhabits these places and amazes us.


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