Can you tell me if ur­ban ex­plo­ration by pho­tog­ra­phers is le­gal?

Digital Photo (UK) - - PHOTO Q+A -

QI want to start us­ing some more in­ter­est­ing lo­ca­tions for my fash­ion shoots and know there’s a stun­ning stately home that’s de­serted nearby. A few of my friends have vis­ited it be­fore, and it’s not fenced off, but I won­dered if walk­ing around it with a model would be il­le­gal? Mal­colm Tunde

Matty says Aban­doned prop­erty still be­longs to some­one, and ex­plor­ing these pri­vate places with­out per­mis­sion is il­le­gal. That said, as long as your ac­cess and pres­ence on these (non-mil­i­tary) sites causes no dam­age, and you leave things ex­actly how they were found, the only of­fence you are com­mit­ting is tres­pass. As a say­ing that’s pop­u­lar among ur­ban ex­plor­ers goes “Take noth­ing but pho­tos, leave noth­ing but foot­prints”. Tres­pass­ing is a civil of­fence in Eng­land and Wales, not a crim­i­nal one, so for that crime alone you can­not be ar­rested, only asked to leave a site. For this rea­son, some pho­tog­ra­phers are will­ing to ac­cept the risk of be­ing caught in the hunt for unique lo­ca­tions.

How­ever, many of these sites do have re­stricted ac­cess as they are po­ten­tially haz­ardous, and by en­ter­ing them you may run the risk of be­ing harmed due to things like struc­tural in­sta­bil­ity, bro­ken glass and as­bestos. For this rea­son we would rec­om­mend that you only ever visit places that you have ac­quired per­mis­sion for in ad­vance from the prop­er­ties’ own­ers.

There are sev­eral web­sites ded­i­cated to ur­ban ex­plo­ration with fur­ther ad­vice, fo­rums and tech­niques for the photography of aban­doned places, which can be a great source of fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion on the sub­ject. One of the most pop­u­lar web­sites for any­one in­ter­ested in the genre is

The de­cay of spa­ces that were pre­vi­ously buzzing with life can be great for pho­tos.

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