Urban Exploration photography is not a new concept but it has become a well-documented, popular past-time that showcases some of the most beautiful unexplored and underground areas of cities around the world. The explorers chase absolutely crazy shots - literally risking life and limb to capture them! You can check out the Red Bull UrBex TV show that features some of the finest that Johannesburg has to offer here: http://www.redbull.tv/show/AP-1M914V33S1W11/urbex-enter-at-your-own-risk
Mine is a cautionary tale. A story about urban exploration and the dangers of being reckless. Spurned by the carelessness of myself, Luke and Eric - the story of three men in the dark (not really this was CBD) streets of Cape Town one night...
Remember that while urban exploration is as fun as it is, it often involves other people and probably trespassing. There's a brazen attitude and there's a meek attitude. No prizes for guessing which one yields the greater results. Those results can sometimes also be a nasty encounter with security. Sometimes security will just be inquisitive and kind enough to allow you to take photos anyway. It's not always the case though, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.
The locations are all around you. Stop looking down and be curious - look out the window when you're in your Uber / driving to the dentist / weaving through traffic... It's as exotic as you want it to be! You could even Google places but then you're probably just going to stay inside and look for quirky stuff on Street View anyway...
This is where the cautionary part of the tale comes in. Yes, there is security. They're not your personal guard. Never EVER go alone. Always have at least one other person with you and stick together! Trust me. Tell other people where you’re going (leave someone a message or something). In terms of clothing; I always wear black. Always. Every day. I'd suggest wearing some form of durable footwear too and maybe a few layers - rather mend a snag in your jacket than get tetanus off a rusty spike.
I pack light for urban missions at night. During the day when I'm on an assignment it's really different - I have my gear bag - at night I wouldn't advocate that at all. If you MUST bring a small backpack then let that be it but consider that in a nefarious situation you will need to run, not snag on anything, or get that snatched. At most I will carry a tripod and my camera. Be aware of your surroundings. Be alert! You're taking photos so you should have a keen eye for detail - your senses are literally going to keep you safe.
Despite the dangers there are so many great adventures that you can go on! I've formed some dear friendships on nights (#whileyouweresleeping) out and I have broken my own rules by going out alone or venturing into stupid places without any idea of what was inside or checking the area properly. Luke, Eric and myself were silly in separating on the night that we reached the taxi rank. Thankfully the only thing that was lost in the fracas was a chain but it could've been much worse (sounds like such a mom thing to say).