Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Photographer Talks on Abandoned Buildings

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Photographer Talks on Abandoned Buildings

Article excerpt

"Do not enter" signs don't deter Steven Bley.

Ever since Bley, a Franklin Lakes native who lives in Hawthorne, stepped into an abandoned hotel in 2009, his passion has been to show people the beauty of abandoned buildings.

Capturing what is widely referred to as "ruin porn"—although Bley prefers to call it "urban exploration"—can be a dangerous job that's certainly not for the meek. We sat down with Bley, an IT Technician by day, photographer by night, to find out what the experience is really like.

What was your inspiration to start taking photos of abandoned buildings?

A friend of mine suggested that we go check out this old hotel in the Catskills he had read about. So, we grabbed our cameras and went to photograph it, and my obsession started. Everything around me told a story and I was able to convey the past life of this place by photographing it's state of decay, piecing together what was once there.

How often do you take photos?

Whenever I am able to. I go out less frequently nowadays because I have two young boys at home and getting out isn't as easy as it was a few years back. When I do go out with my friends to do this, we travel further to get to our destinations.

Do you work alone or with others?

I never work alone. Going into an abandoned building can be a very dangerous idea. I usually go out with one or two friends to wherever we are headed. Safety in numbers is a good motto to use when photographing and exploring old buildings. I've come across buildings that have been exposed to the elements for decades and that leads to rot and decay. I've put my foot through a number of floors while walking. You need to be extremely careful and be able to have help in case something unfortunate happens.

How far will travel for a good photo?

I've traveled all the way to North Carolina to photograph buildings. I spent a long weekend up in Buffalo a few months back. …

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