By Josh Saunders
An urban explorer has created a powerful photography series in a campaign to show the beauty of abandoned building and to urge us to stop tearing them down.
Shelley Koon, 54, from Dover, Delaware, USA, hopes to shatter the illusion that the forgotten sites are ‘dark and drab’ and instead reveal their beauty and appeal.
Visiting hospitals, asylums, schools and factories in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, USA, she says she can easily spend eight hours at a time exploring and photographing the locations.
One of her favourite spots, is a factory where a loom still remains as it would have been during its operational years, due to the site’s quick closure.
She captures the minutiae of the cracking-shell locations, from the reflected view of a decaying room to old reading glasses from yonder-years and an unusual array of remaining furniture.
Hoping to highlight the beauty of the deteriorating sites and their decadent beauty, she is also fundraising to show her work in an exhibit entitled ‘Wither’.
Shelley, a photographer, said: “I want people to love these buildings as much as I do.
“If I can do that then perhaps there is hope for re-purposing some of the structures rather than tearing them down.
“The architecture and craftsmanship in these buildings are amazing and many of them still stand today due to the care that was taken when building them.
“People think abandoned buildings are dark and drab – they’re anything but.
“They are full of color and texture, you just need to slow down and look and you’ll see it.
“The image that has all the colorful strings in it is Nottingham loom that is still threaded.
“When this factory shut down they did so mid-shift and the loom remains as it was left that day.
“I love that it stands in defiance of time, refusing to let go of the thread that call back to its glory days.
“I also love the glasses. You know how they say sometimes you just need to look in your own back yard to find what you’re looking for? Well it’s true.
“In this case it was my family’s backyard and the glasses were in a tiny house on the back of the property that has been left pretty much untouched since it was vacated year ago.
“The factory with the loom is one of my favorite places on Earth, I literally call it my happy place, sadly it is being dismantled so I’m happy I was able to see it as many times as I did.
“I’ve never felt unsafe in any of the buildings, or scared, but there was one hospital that made me very uneasy.
“I don’t have feelings one way or the other about ‘ghosts’ but I will say that that particular building made me feel incredibly depressed and uneasy.”
For each location Shelley visits, she contends with capturing the photographs only using the available natural lighting.
She added: “The time to shoot each image varies depending on the available light.
“I don’t use flash when photographing abandoned structures, so exposures can be pretty long – sometimes upwards of 30 seconds or more when there is little light in the area.
“I lose track of time when I’m photographing and can easily spend eight hours in a location just roaming around in it and taking pictures.”
Shelley hopes with the funding she raises from Indiegogo she will be able to offset the costs of hosting her first solo photography exhibit.
Shelley said: “I have two hopes for this exhibit, the first is that it brings awareness to these forgotten structures and encourages people to rethink the idea that the only option for them is demolition.
“There is hope for rehabilitation of some abandoned structures, not all, but many.
“The solution requires education and that starts with conversations, which I hope my images can begin.
“My second hope for the show is that it brings awareness to the other amazing photographers out there exploring and photographing these urban ruins.
“We are definitely a motley crew and we’re here to get your attention.”
To donate visit: www.indiegogo.com/projects/wither-photography-exhibit-by-shelley-koon#/