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First the technical stuff

Equipment used: Nikon D800 body. NIkon 50mm f1.4g lens, Nikon 24-70mm f2.8g lens, Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro 1:1 lens, Sigma Art 14-24mm f2.8 lens. Various carbon fibre Manfrotto tripods/ball heads are used. 


Post production editing: Adobe Photoshop CC on RAW files. Minimal post editing, mainly lens correction, dodge & burn and exposure tweaking in curves before desaturation at around 10% on colour images. 


Project World in Ruins

[Some questions I regularly get asked]


Why the interest in derelict and abandoned buildings?

Photographing abandoned and derelict buildings can quickly become an obsession. I've always liked the aesthetics of derelict buildings yet didn't go inside until several years ago instead choosing to photograph the exteriors. But it is inside that the magic really begins. A world of intrigue and mystery, uncertainty and fascination. Nature's army of interior designers have changed the aesthetics whilst the contents remain frozen in time. In essence, this project is about documenting the past. Often hidden from the public eye, they hold intrigue into what's left behind. Stories to tell and questions to answer. Who lived there? Why did they leave? What was the purpose of the building? They capture the imagination not only by the dust covered personal items left behind but by what is missing, what was once there but has vanished. Who sat in the arm chair left behind by the window? Lives lived and only clues as to what they entailed, often the presence of the people once there can still be felt, ghosts of a bygone time. A magical mix of nostalgia and history. A once human existence has been replaced by a different life, all of its own as the paint starts to peel, ivy grips the windows and the building metamorphasises into something else, travelling through time, incognito.

It is also a reclamation of childhood where exploring was part of discovering the world and its boundaries. In adulthood this is lost, abandoned buildings however give this back. Venturing beyond conventional physical boundaries into forbidden spaces. Childhood replaced by adulthood replaced by a fusion of the two.


What are your favourite type of locations?

For me, domestic dwellings - an old farmhouse or cottage for instance - and being greeted by a time capsule full of vintage personal artefacts. Hand written letters, photographs, magazines, sewing machines and so on. All are links to the location's past. All are small segments of forgotten lives as they lose their former function and become organic museums. Domestic dwellings pose so many questions. Who wrote the letter and to whom? Who lived here last? Who played the piano now covered in dust? Where did they go? Where are they now? Was there a family tragedy thus everything was merely left behind?  Documenting locations of any type is not only about what is left behind but also what is missing. The viewer of the images is able to fill in the gaps. Create their own story. Decide who wrote the letter and to who. Other types of locations, for instance churches, factories, schools and so on are great to photograph but lack that real sense of entering an unknown secret past and human connection.


Isn't it illegal though?

In a word no. Generally, going inside an abandoned building - unless it belongs to the Crown or an MOD site -  is not a criminal offence. However,  it is a civil offence of trespass. I leave the buildings as I find them and treat them with the respect they deserve after documenting them. Forced entry is never done and if no natural entry is possible then I walk away.

Aren't derelict buildings dangerous by their very definition?

Yes! Often very dangerous and therefore every caution is taken to prevent serious injury to myself and damage to equipment. I have suffered a few nasty injuries and I guess as with many activities, there is an element of risk. My equipment bag contains quite an extensive first aid kit in case injury occurs. The trick is to assess and behave appropriately to the conditions and if possible be acompanied by someone else! I'm a photographer not a thrill seeker so if the floor looks flimsy it probably is, after, all, I always plan to leave a building as I arrived!


How do you find these locations if they are hidden or off limits?

Relentless research, Google Earth  and a lot of miles with open eyes!

The Legal stuff

All images on this website are under full copyright of jameslaceyphotography. Before any image is to be used - either physically or digtally- permission must be sought via the contact form for the appropriate licence.


Who owns the copyright on photographs?

Under law, it is the photographer who will own copyright on any photos he/she has taken, with the following exceptions:

​If the photographer is an employee of the company the photos are taken for, or is an employee of a company instructed to take the photos, the photographer will be acting on behalf of his/her employer, and the company the photographer works for will own the copyright.

​If there is an agreement that assigns copyright to another party.


In all other cases, the photographer will retain the copyright, if the photographer has been paid for his work, the payment will be for the photographer’s time and typically an allocated number of prints. The copyright to the photos will remain with the photographer, and therefore any reproduction without permission would be an infringement of copyright.


Using the work of others.

As with all copyright work, you should first obtain permission from the copyright owner before you use someone else’s work.You should also be prepared to pay a fee, as many photographers will charge you for using their work.

Only the copyright owner, (or his/her authorised representative), can give permission, so you should contact the photographer, or his/her company, directly for consent. For images published on the Internet, it is typical to contact the webmaster of the site in the first instance, unless the site provides contact details for the owner of the images.

The copyright owner has no obligation to allow you to use their work, and can refuse permission for any reason.

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