If you enjoy the Abandoned America website, find out more about the books here
Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream / Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences

General FAQ

Abandoned America received a lot of questions; this page is here to answer of the more common ones:

Q: I'd like to submit a place for you to photograph?
A: I am always interested in suggestions. Time, travel budget, and accessibility are always concerns, so unfortunately I miss a hundred places for each one I manage to get to, but I do try to follow up on these as I'm able. If you have leads or info on how to get permission, so much the better. Send me a note at admin@abandonedamerica.org - just be patient, responses can take a while unless it's something I can immediately act on.

Q: I'd like to set up a lecture, book signing, gallery show, workshop, or some other event with Abandoned America. What do I do?
A: Email me at admin@abandonedamerica.org and we'll see if we can work something out. While travel/time costs are always a factor in the decision, I'm always happy to work with individuals or groups that have an interest in my work.

Q: I'd really like to know where a property is but it is listed under a pseudonym or I can't find info on it. Can you tell me where it is? Why aren't they listed? Can you help me find other abandoned properties?
A: I don't list locations because abandoned locations are inherently unprotected and vulnerable. You may only want to photograph it but even the act of listing a property's location on the internet can have a tremendously destructive effect. Thievery, vandalism, and arson are huge problems and many places I have been very fond of have been ruined by a combination of these effects. If I don't have a property's location listed, I have made a decision not to reveal it. Emailing me won't change that. Finding properties is very difficult and time consuming and I'm afraid I can't offer assistance helping plan road trips or locating buildings in your area.

Q: What kind of camera/equipment do you use? What do you recommend?
A: Most of the work on this website has been shot with a Canon 5D Mark II and a tripod. Older work was photographed with either an Olympus Evolt 510 or a Minolta dImage. If you look on gallery index pages many of them say which. I don't use a lot of other equipment (lighting, flash, etc.) because it is often too bulky to carry around and working quickly is often important. Unfortunately recommending cameras takes a lot of time and research; it depends on the individual, their budget, their skill level, and a variety of other factors. Giving individualized recommendations is impossible.

Q: Aren't these places dangerous? Can't you get arrested for trespassing?
A: Yes, and they absolutely are dangerous for a myriad of reasons. I do not recommend anyone enter them unless they are given explicit permission to do so. It's not my place to judge anyone else's decisions, but they pose huge safety risks for people who aren't prepared and legal consequences can be severe. It is typically best to assume they are not safe.

Q: How do you get permission to photograph these places?
A: Building a strong portfolio, a base of references/clients, and establishing a good reputation are important and take a lot of time and work. Being courteous, respectful, and professional are most important, as is understanding you are going to get turned down more often than not. Allowing photographers into sites is a legal liability and an imposition on property owner's time/resources. Carrying commercial insurance is costly but often necessary if you want to show you are more than a curious passerby. The most important thing is to try to understand and anticipate problems a property owner may have and to listen to them and try to work with them to resolve them. It is unfortunate but there are many people that feel very entitled to information about these places or access to them - having that sort of attitude will make things much more difficult for you.

Q: Can you tell me about how to sneak into places?
A: Of course not. The ways that could work out poorly for me are too numerous to list.

Q: How do you get into places? Permission or not?
A: I've found keeping my methods to myself is usually the wisest course of action.

Q: Why do you take so long to reply to things?
A: I wish to God I had an assistant to help with this stuff, but shooting, editing, writing, social media, print sale management, promotion, business administration - these are all my jobs, and email usually is something that I get to when I can, and I also try to have a life away from the computer. I wish I had more time to manage email messages better but as it stands, please understand that while I read each and every thing that is sent to me, I am so overwhelmed with work that replies can be a real challenge, particularly to emails asking open-ended questions, asking things like location info that I don't give out, or requiring long responses.

Q: How do I submit photographs I've taken for inclusion on the website?
A: I appreciate your interest but at this time the website is only a display of my own work. Maybe one day this will change and I'll add galleries of the work of others (I've considered this but the management and expense are too much for me now), but I do not see this policy changing in the immediate future.