Blogging with a camera

My urbex site has a lot of selling points, but I think the main one is that it effectively straddles the line between the two extremes that typify urban exploration sites on the web.

Specifically, there's an abundance of sites full of photos, but they lack narration.  This drives me nuts.  I don't know the context of what I'm looking at.  Many times there's no frame of reference in the shot for, say, how big a given tunnel is or how it fits into a drainage system.  The pictures themselves may be aesthetically interesting, but they fail to contribute to the collective narrative that presents the exploration itself as a process of individual (re)discovery of sometimes forgotten places.

The other extreme doesn't go the aforementioned route, but instead goes to the opposite extreme (much like this editorial) by beating a story into the ground with mere words.  Granted, this variety of urbex site is the minority, but they exist.  And while text does permit exposition and specifics (e.g., how long a tunnel traveled underground), it can sometimes read like a fish tale if there are no images to back it up.

From the feedback I've received regarding the site, one reason given repeatedly why visitors ended up reading the site "cover to cover" is that they enjoy the fact that I consistently report explorations chronologically and supply a running commentary.  It isn't difficult to do, especially since many explorers like to blog about other things already, but neither text nor images alone are as effective at conveying a story.  For some of the larger adventures on here, I've written things up in long form, but even then I don't bog the page down with a bunch of text.  I leave that up to the reader by providing a link (where applicable) to the journal page.

I have nothing against taking artistic images of what are indisputably very photogenic scenes.  However, the camera can (and should) be used to tell the story of the exploration itself.  Every comic book reader understands the concept of sequential art: The images convey a series of actions; they aren't just stand-alone works for making prints out of.  There's certainly a place for that, but not to the exclusion of other forms of expression that will supplement what was seen with what can be said about it.

Whether you're just starting out or are a seasoned explorer already, go that approach and document your most recent adventure while things are fresh in your mind.  You'll be happy you did starting a couple years from now because you'll find that you've forgotten details you included in the web versions of your exploits back then.  And, yes, I'm speaking from experience.

Copyright 2007 Alexplorer.
Back to the Urban Exploration Index