A deep dive into some of my scariest experiences while exploring the world and discovering new forgotten sites to shoot.
Exploring abandoned places is one of the most fascinating experiences ever. Still, a few scary moments come with the territory. You never know what to expect when you cross borders that few people cross. Roaming around in remote areas, venturing into disused buildings, and exploring hidden mysteries comes with its fair share of darkness attached. In the wake of Halloween, I wanted to share some of the spookiest experiences in my years photographing abandoned places. In my travels, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of the world and explore many countries. This means that I’ve also sometimes seen things that are hard to imagine! Even I was in disbelief at some point or another, especially when I found myself running for my safety.
To give you a few examples, I’ve seen disgruntled caretakers who chased me away. Some janitors and custodians do not take kindly on urban explorers!
I’ve heard otherworldly noises that would seriously make anyone reconsider whether they believe in the supernatural or not. I’ve seen crazy wild animals, homeless people, and much more!
Once, as I was exploring Italy, I came across actual human remains. I found a skull sitting in an abandoned church. I’ve also come across an abandoned cemetery with forgotten graves, weathering away with time.
One of the most unsettling things I’ve encountered was a collection of animal body parts and organs preserved in formaldehyde. The building was a former veterinary school in Belgium, so the find wasn’t super-startling, but still, it makes for a spooky scene!
The memory of a terrible thing that happened in history can be scarier than a skull or jars filled with animal parts. I’ll never forget the rusty, abandoned children’s bed in Chernobyl, a reminder of one of the world’s most tragic nuclear disasters. The whole town of Pripyat is a very eerie reminder of one of humanity’s darkest pages. It’s a feeling that can’t be described, but pictures help put it into perspective!
Some people will argue that decay itself is scary. When exploring abandoned places, that’s something you’ll encounter on a very regular basis. Some of the buildings I’ve visited have a very unsettling aura. These include a morgue in France, which was eerily cold and aseptic while, at the same time, decayed and forgotten.
I once came across an animal testing facility. The sight was very dystopian and reminded me of the suffering and pain these poor creatures have gone through in that dark place. It feels like some presence still haunts these destinations, and it’s not easy to be there alone at times! Places such as old hospitals, morgues, and abandoned sanitariums are almost soaked with all the suffering they have seen over the years. It can be scary to see such places, but they also make you ponder, think deeply about the fleeting nature of life. The decay they’re experiencing almost feels like another nail in the coffin. A gloomy end to a darkened history of sorrow and disease. These lifeless spirits lost in time are embedded forever in these locations. They still linger on, clinging to a world that has forgotten everything about them.
The wandering spirits of the past are still dwelling among us. Next time you visit an abandoned place, listen to your surroundings closely, and shut your eyes…or not. It might be best to keep them wide open instead! You never know what might lurk in the darkness!