There’s something hauntingly beautiful about derelict or abandoned scenes.

Perhaps it’s the thrill of the intrusion to catch a glimpse of the last moments of a place, captured forever in poetic limbo, or perhaps it’s creating one’s own stories about what happened back in time that appeals to the spectator.

In any case, the visual documentation of timeless scenes is not as straightforward as it seems. It is up to the vision of the photographer to reproduce the mood or induce one, and a more experienced photographer knows exactly how to make good use of lighting, lenses and camera angles to evoke the emotions they are looking for.

However, entering derelict premises can carry their fair share of dangers and the tips below might seem really obvious, but the excitement of finding and exploring a time-forgotten location might just cloud over our better judgement.

Since many abandoned buildings are not structurally reliable and would usually have objects and debris strewn all over the place, you can never be too cautious about protecting yourself from broken or rusty objects, floors or ceilings giving in, foul air and dust, insects and wild animals, and occasionally, other people.

A good pair of weather-resistant, covered-toe shoes is a good place to start. Making sure your clothing are not too loose will also help prevent them from getting caught on protruding objects (or being pulled back by “invisible hands”).

Tying up long hair or hiding them under a cap doesn’t prevent concussions, but it does keep unwelcome insects or falling dirt from invading your scalp.

A simple disposable face mask will come in very handy for very dusty places or to soften the stink of dead animals, unless you are visiting hardcore radiation zones, then you’ll need really heavy-duty gas masks and radiation suits.

If you’ve ever seen the film Gerry, you will agree that you should never go exploring unknown territories without any basic survival items.

Always bring along a bottle of water to prevent dehydration or to clean up any cuts or wounds obtained in the battlefield. Besides, you’ll never know when you might need the bottle…

And food, a day of hard work deserves to be rewarded with food. You can also use it to strike up good rapport with any homeless people you are intruding on in the premises. Remember to leave no trace of your being there, you don’t want the waste you generate to be part of the scenario for the next visitor.

Flashlights are a must to help you see your way in dark, spooky interiors, and besides, it’s a great lighting tool for when you need a focal point of light, or to create moods for your photos, (or communicate with spirits, if you’re into this sort of stuff.) Remember to put in fresh batteries and bring along replacements.

Having a Swiss army knife in your pocket wouldn’t be a bad idea. The tweezers will come in handy to remove lodged splinters, and you’ll never know when you might need to cut yourself free from vines and whatnots. In case of emergency, your tripod can also serve as a weapon.

Finally, a fully-charged phone and an external battery pack would be a good idea in case you need to call for help, and if your phone has a camera, way better! You can play with the variation of cameras to create more interesting perspectives for your session.

Now that your bag is fully equipped, it’s time to go bear witness to places where time ceased to exist.

                                    > VISIT MORE SCENES FROZEN IN TIME


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Trickle, drizzle, pitter-patter, pour, gush, torrential... these are some words used to describe how rainfall feels, looks and sounds like. However when it comes to describing smell, it gets a little more challenging.

There is a word that actually describes the smell of rain.

Derived from the Greek word for stone, “petra”, and “ichor” referring to the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods, petrichor is the name coined for the potpourri of aromas that form the smell of rain, attributed to a blend of oils trapped in rocks and soil that is mainly responsible for it (the blood of the stone).

 

> SEE MORE RAIN-RELATED IMAGES


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The question we hear all the time is, “What kind of photos are most needed this year for your market?”

Among some of the advice given to photographers by agencies these past few years about trending topics are youth and technology, healthy lifestyle, candid-looking shots and multicultural images around the world, logical conclusions to illustrate our current way of life.

While each market tended to need images with models that largely reflect their particular societies, images portraying diversity are steadily making their way in. Compact cameras and mobile devices make street photography more and more possible, capturing the everyday life of every city and portraying their unique socio-economical traits.

Unless photographers only want to restrict the licensing of their images to editorial uses, it is precisely these images portraying people that require model releases. Read about one of our photographers’ experience in approaching models in our blog post The Importance of Release.

How can one truthfully show diversity in stock photography? The first step is to define the term.

Diversity does not only encompass ethnicity and culture. It also includes gender, socio-economic status, religious and political beliefs, physical abilities and age.

Mixed-race and same-sex relationships and families have become more common in many countries over the years. More people have taken to the streets to voice out their political views. The successful working woman is now widely recognized and accepted. Men not only work in offices, they also partake in household chores and share the responsibility of looking after their children.

Once these terms are defined, it’s time to look around and observe the surrounding to get a real picture of the present society. Challenge stereotypes in photo sessions. Seek out a variety of models of different ages and ethnicities, but keep the mix natural. Consider how the images can be used commercially for the target industries or markets. Refer to current advertisements and other online uses to see what works and what doesn’t.

With increasing demand for images with an authentic feel, rather than relying on model agencies, a more daring photographer might approach interesting models on the streets. Carrying business cards would come in handy for such purposes.

It would also be an interesting exercise to imagine oneself in the role of buyer in order to assess the commercial value of the images taken. For example, would an advertising creative choose this image for a bank or telecommunications ad? Can a website designer use it to describe an organization or company? Or is this image suitable for selling a product or brand?

Most importantly, the end result should be a believable image. It’s not just about putting a mix of people together, it’s how good and natural they look together in the environment they are photographed in that will make it work commercially.

Keep in mind that society and technology change continually, clothes and styles go out of fashion and market needs adapt promptly to these changes. Refreshing your images on a regular basis to reflect current social trends might not be such a bad idea to reach potential buyers. Above all, be open, be spontaneous and get those releases signed!


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age fotostock photographer Jan Sochor artfully captures the social and cultural situation in the streets of South and Central America with a beautiful combination of composition, emotion and expression.

         

         

Documentary photography is a very powerful and narrative form of image-making that faithfully captures the reality of a situation in order to tell a story and send a message.

There are very different forms of documentary photography: images taken candidly at events capture the moments that mark the event special, sports photography document the game or race as it happens, while street photography immortalizes instances of everyday life in the streets.

Social documentary photography is a branch of photojournalism that focuses on documenting the day-to-day of a community, with the aim of drawing attention to ongoing and social issues, usually of the underprivileged or disadvantaged. The communication through emotions generated from this kind of photographs can be very impactful.

         

Some questions to ask when shooting documentary photography are: Does the photograph truly represent its subject? Why is this moment significant and how is it a symbol of a larger issue at hand?

         

A good social documentary photographer captures scenes as they happen naturally, in their environment, in order to produce truthful and objective images.

It is necessary to look at the big picture in order to accurately portray the environment and the setting of an occurance.

         

Similarly, it’s important to draw attention to details that can usually give unspoken information about a character or a place and add impact to telling the story.

         

Most essentially, each image or series of images should tell a story with an intention. This would be what is ultimately transmitted to the audience and what would provoke a reaction. These techniques, combined with a good eye, a compelling story and a unique visual style is what turns documentary photography into a form of art.

          

          

See more social documentary photos by Jan Sochor here.


                    


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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