“Urban Explorations” is a little known genre of photography (at
least to me). Gary Mather has been photographing in that style for a
while. I have always been facinated with old abandoned buildings so
I wanted to find out more.
Tell us a little about yourself and your photography.
I am based in Manchester in the UK and have been shooting now for
about 4yrs, I’m a bit of a late bloomer. Taking photo’s is a massive
passion of mine and I will shoot almost anything to capture that
special moment in time.
Why did you start taking photos?
Up until about 4yrs ago I had no interest whatsoever in photography.
I had a camera but it was nothing special and because everything was
digital it was just easy for me to just snap away at anything and
everything. It wasn’t until someone took a photograph of my daughter and the quality and clarity of the shot was amazing, it floored me.
I had to go out and get a “proper” camera (dDLR ) to try and
recreate this quality. It was from this moment my passion took off
and I hit the books and the internet to study and learn. It was like
a foreign language to me at first; ISO, Aperture, Shutterspeed. I
had no idea what these things were but slowly I have learned to use
these settings and many more to create an emotion and not just an
These shots are truly inspiring. What is your definition of
Urban Exploration, for me it is being able to see the unseen.
Everything has a history, humans, animals and even buildings and the
only way to discover the history of these abandoned structures is to
venture past the no entry sign to see and feel it for yourself. The
photography part comes 2nd, being able to capture these places to a
digital image means it’s history will live on long after the
building has gone.
How do you capture the atmosphere of an abandoned building
or a things that once were necessary but now are left behind?
The atmosphere is pretty much as you see it in the photo’s. These
places have had no contact with the outside world since the
occupants left, except for us photographers and sadly thieves
looking to make a quick buck on anything they can get their hands on
they have been left under a layer of dust and cobwebs for years.
Wheelchairs and medical instruments tell a tale of their history and
give some inclination as to who once occupied these buildings and
You sell your work on etsy.com – how is that working out for
From a sales perspective not so well, I am getting a vast amount of
feedback and new followers everyday but sadly no sales. I have only
been using it a little while so patience is the key I think. I’m not
really in it for the money as every man and his dog can pick up a
camera and create some sort of decent image with the technology that is out there. If I can make a few quid to pay for equipment then
that will do for me.
What are some other photographic projects you enjoy working
It is mainly a hobby for me but recently I have been delving into
the world of concert photography. It’s a win-win situation, I love
music and I love photography, put the two together and it’s a match
made in heaven. It’s a whole different ball game to my usual
exploration photography as timing is critical and you only get the
one chance. You really must know your camera inside out to cope with the ever changing situations that appear on stage, mainly with the lighting.
What kind of a camera and lenses do you primarily use and
how do you select your equipment?
My camera is a Nikon D800 ( a stunning piece of equipment ) and the
lenses I have in my bag on every trip are as follows – Nikon 14-24mm
f2.8 / Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 / Nikon 50mm f1.4 / Nikon 16mm Fisheye
The choice of lens usually depends on the situation I am shooting
in. The 14-24mm hardly ever leaves my camera, I love to capture the
whole scene in one shot and this wide angle lens does an awesome
job. If the 14-24 cannot fit it in then the 16mm will go even
further but it will create distortion so I use it very sparingly and
only if i must. The 50mm comes into it’s own when I want to catch
the small details of a location.
Can you name some tips for those who want to start a
I really don’t have any experience in starting a business. My Etsy
shop is the beginning and probably end of any business I would ever
try to start. I am merely in this game for the love of photography.
Thanks Gary for sharing your urban explorations and
keep up the good work!
Check out Gary’s photography on his website and the Etsy