There’s something captivating about abandoned places. Ruined spots that were once spaces of work or play, that were once filled with voices and laughter, now eerily quiet and fallen into decay and disrepair.
Perhaps it’s because they remind us that nothing lasts forever, how impermanent our time on earth really is, and how fleeting even this twenty first century iteration of modern human civilisation is. Or maybe we just like to see mucked up stuff? Or nature fighting back after all we've put her through.
"I rediscover places mankind has forgotten and abandoned. In our hectic world, they’re places with great mood and serenity…"
From leisure parks and spinning mills to shipyards, asylums, and hotels, Thomas Windisch likes taking pictures of abandoned places as his instagram feed testifies. We asked him why? “I slid into it somehow. I started photography like most people did, flowers, animals and so on…then you buy a new 50mm lens and ask a friend if she would model for your first portrait shoot. When you got some knowledge you realise where your interests are and you focus on that."
“I just didn’t want to take the 17 millionth photograph of a naked woman or do fashion/beauty shoots all my life. There are many photographers out there doing a far better job than me in those genres. And I always wanted to travel around the world and experience some adventures; so urban exploration was the perfect genre for me."
"I just didn’t want to take the 17 millionth photograph of a naked woman or do fashion/beauty shoots all my life."
“I always loved to explore the world around me but nowadays is not the easiest time for discoverers – unless you’re a particle physicist, deep sea researcher or something like that. So what I do is a great opportunity to rediscover places mankind has forgotten and abandoned. In our hectic world, they’re places with great mood and serenity and that’s what I try to conserve in my pictures, like little time capsules."
And what does he think the people that like looking at his pictures get out of it? “For my viewers I think it’s about seeing scenery they don’t see in everyday life. They can imagine their own stories, feelings and sometimes memories projected onto them. If 20 people tell me their thoughts on the same picture, they would say 20 different things. And that’s just great."
Is there beauty in ruins or is it mostly dark? “It’s what we call beauty in decay – every location, especially the ones with great architecture where nature is taking over are really beautiful and possess a great mood of light. There are of course also creepy and/or dark ones…
And why does he think fairgrounds and amusement parks particularly captivate us so much? “I assume when people think of amusement parks they remember them as places of great joy, where children laugh and everyone is happy. Abandoned amusement parks are somewhat creepy, like in horror movies.
You’re not sure if a horror clown is about to jump out at you out of nowhere, or if power is about to return to a merry-go-round as if by magic. And there is this absolute silence which is the exact opposite from a “normal" amusement park. So not the cosiest place to spend the night alone for sure."