“Take Nothing But Photos, Leave Nothing But Footprints”: How-to Guides for Ruin Photography
The UrbEx phenomenon has produced numerous websites and publications, both as guides for locating particularly enticing ruin sites, and as guides for how to have the kind of experience that explorers seek: namely, to be the first to encounter something not yet valued by others, and to produce a visual record of its ephemerality, while those who come after can only replicate the experience. Exploring the exploration guidebooks themselves offers a unique insight into “how to” have the desired sublime experience long associated with visiting ruins, particularly with reference to urban ruins photography. This chapter will explore the impulse towards routinising desired types of ruin photography and UrbEx adventures through an examination of “how to” UrbEx photography books and websites.
The author wishes to thank Kathy Cooke and Elizabeth Spelman for their thoughtful comments on an earlier draft.
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