How "Urban Exploration" Almost Netted One Photographer a 15,000 Euro Fine and Jail Time

Abandoned doesn't always mean unowned

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Rachel Briedster

Urban exploration photography, also called "ruin porn", is a big deal. From dedicated websites to huge communities, an entire photography sub-genre has developed about exploring abandoned buildings, and photographing them. Especially prevalent amidst some of the decaying grandeur of Detroit (which has generated its own backlash), people are exploring broken and abandoned building to take some truly dramatic photos. But, as one European photographer recently discovered, just because a building is disused doesn't mean someone doesn't own it, and that can have major legal implications.

Photographer the Other Side recently had a run in with the authorities at a partly abandoned French factory. Here's his story, as related through his Facebook page:

Jail? 15.000 euro fine? => keep reading the story.

Dammit no more france for me. Alright.. I kept this offline a few months.. Because of this place I can't explore in France anymore next three years. We often explore places and mostly we don't know what we are going to see.. This huge factory was partly in use, partly abandoned. We wanted to visit the abandoned part.. So let me tell you the short version => ... France, an early sunday morning... The lights were still working no one to be seen... But we were so wrong this time. We were spotted by 10 workers (which shouldn't be there that day) and they had us cornered. Oops.. Security took us away and police was called.. Before police arrived about 15 other worksman joined us. Police wasn't too happy this time.. To make a long story short, If we get caught again in France in a place we shouldn't be the next three years, we get a fine around 15.000 euro and possible 1 year cell.. So I'm gonna skip France for a while.. Well those are the risks we take to give you these beautiful pictures.. So plz share and like and spread the word of the other side ! haha thx.

The Other Side did manage to capture an image before being detained, but this should serve as a reminder for people who want to tackle photography like this. These abandoned buildings are often still under active ownership, and may have security (in addition to the safety issue of the structure). You could be charged with trespassing or breaking and entering. The Other Side folks got off with a warning, and will probably not be doing much more in France for a while—but things could have turned out much worse.