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The Beauty Of Urban Decay Photography

The city is a fantastic source of beauty and inspiration, with all the glitz and glamor glistening beneath the city lights. But there is another side of the city altogether, one rife with its own kind of allure. Across the tracks, away from the dazzle of downtown, lies a darker imagination, this one looking to grunge-ridden, dilapidated architecture for inspiration. [Content Care Nov/29/2016]

There is a beauty that pervades this kind of urban decay and captured wonderfully through a photographer’s well-trained eye. These industrial city scenes are wonderfully dark and offer a glimpse of the weathered face beneath the city facade.

In this inspirational installment, we take a tour and show the charm of a more neglected and worn side of the city. We showcase the beauty of urban decay, a series of photos of this eroded elegance that photographers have captured brilliantly. These gorgeously grungy images have a haunting appeal, a stirring quality that radiates from within and that earned them a spot on this list.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

35 Beautiful Examples Of Urban Decay Photography Link

phill.d526
“It never ceases to amaze me the different colors and effects you can achieve in a boring concrete R.C.P drain.”

Urban Decay Photography7

Magnus Lindqvist8
“Your Worst Nightmare”. “This is a bit different from what I normally shoot. I had this shot in my head for a very long time but it wasn’t until last weekend I finally shot it. The only light source is a shop light behind the door. The place is very narrow and kind of creepy. I had to make sure that the door behind me stayed open or it would have locked me in.” Lexington, Kentucky.

Screenshot9

*pippyzz*10
Fuckin’ days.

Screenshot

Escapista11
That Train Don’t Stop Here Any More.

Screenshot

fotografie.berlin12
“This Picture is not photoshopped. It’s real. Don’t really know how and why they made it.”

Screenshot13

GraemeNicol14
American Dollar.

Screenshot15

Mr. Mark16
Classic Blues in Cuba.

Screenshot17

trocker
“Sienkiewicza”

. Sienkiewicza .18

Shifted*Exposure19
Sun Beam.

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stOOpidgErL20
“Where Was God That Night”

Screenshot21

photosecosse22
Nevada City, Cart and Cabin, Ghost Town, Montana, USA.

Screenshot23

Jano De Cesare24
Corner mood. A corner in an abandoned asylum in Pistoia, Tuscany.

Screenshot25

picaddict26
Highgate Cemetery West London. This beautiful statue lying there as if it would be alive had to be covered with branches. (a wish of the the relatives) but the guide was so kind to clear the grave a little bit for us. I have never seen before in my life such a beautiful touching statue…

Screenshot27

tofu_minx28
Salton Sea – Bombay Beach – Broken Solitude.

Screenshot29

anacm.silva30
Aldeia de Mora – Vimioso, Portugal.

Screenshot31

bsidez5032
Years of decay.

Screenshot33

Darwin Bell34
Rusty but proud.

Screenshot35

DanielKHC36
“Tyersall House”.

Screenshot37

stephmel
“The Lonely Steps”.

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scottnj38
Curtains, a tattered old curtain hangs through the broken panes of glass in this abandoned old house.

Screenshot39

inesbexiga40
Door, Sobral de Monte Agraço – Portugal.

Screenshot41

Wolfgang Staudt42
Decay – the door in a hospital, Saarbruecken, Germany.

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sheke14644
“Somebody’s Bad Luck”

Screenshot45

Ride My Pony
Corner Desk.

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sheke14644
Bells Piano.

Screenshot47

Gundross5948
“Postnuclear”

Chair49

bsidez5032
La Chartreuse. It’s a beautiful abandoned fortress in Liege, Belgium.

Screenshot51

phill.d526
“It never ceases to amaze me the different colours and effects you can achieve in a boring concrete R.C.P drain.”

Screenshot53

Pavel Horak
Industrial Documentary: The Stain.

Screenshot54

Timothy Neesam55
“Broadway”.

Screenshot56

briantmurphy57
“You are beautiful”. This building is just a mile or so from downtown New Orleans, on the bank of the Mississippi.

Screenshot58

Gundross5948
” Postindustrial beauty”

Postindustrial beauty60

A.Guandalini61
Inside an abandoned country house, behind closed windows.

Screenshot62

Eric Matthew Gustafson63
“Steel Office”

Steel Office64

Dan Dumitriu
“Post-modern burial”

Post-modern burial65

Last Click Link

Serret66
“levels of initiation”

levels of initiation67

For the last click, we present the image that got this entire ball of inspiration rolling. “A Moment Suspended In Time” was the picture we found that sparked this whole showcase being put together.

Marcin Stawiarz
“A Moment Suspended In Time”

<br /> A Moment Suspended In Time68

Sources and Resources Link

(al)

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/12/14/the-beauty-of-street-photography/
  2. 2 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/35-examples-of-beautiful-city-photography/
  3. 3 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/10/19/25-beautiful-examples-of-underwater-photography/
  4. 4 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/09/07/35-brilliant-examples-of-rain-photography/
  5. 5 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/24/45-beautiful-motion-blur-photos/
  6. 6 http://flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/
  7. 7 http://flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/2517647364/in/set-72157605040581984/
  8. 8 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlindqvist/
  9. 9 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlindqvist/2343437550/
  10. 10 http://flickr.com/photos/pippyzz
  11. 11 http://www.escapista.net/
  12. 12 http://flickr.com/photos/fotografieberlin/
  13. 13 http://flickr.com/photos/fotografieberlin/2352225023/
  14. 14 http://flickr.com/photos/slavers/
  15. 15 http://flickr.com/photos/slavers/241603109/
  16. 16 http://flickr.com/photos/mark_boucher/
  17. 17 http://flickr.com/photos/mark_boucher/115250451/
  18. 18 http://trocker.deviantart.com/art/Sienkiewicza-82807711
  19. 19 http://flickr.com/photos/focusshift/
  20. 20 http://flickr.com/photos/stoopidgerl/
  21. 21 http://flickr.com/photos/stoopidgerl/103742938/
  22. 22 http://flickr.com/photos/babsphotosecosse/
  23. 23 http://flickr.com/photos/babsphotosecosse/2947672350/
  24. 24 http://flickr.com/photos/janodecesare/
  25. 25 http://flickr.com/photos/janodecesare/2854914549/
  26. 26 http://flickr.com/photos/renate-eder/
  27. 27 http://flickr.com/photos/renate-eder/1321743461/
  28. 28 http://flickr.com/photos/tofu_minx/
  29. 29 http://flickr.com/photos/tofu_minx/2295721904/
  30. 30 http://flickr.com/photos/anasilva/
  31. 31 http://flickr.com/photos/anasilva/2840993726/
  32. 32 http://flickr.com/photos/bsidez/
  33. 33 http://flickr.com/photos/bsidez/454511329/
  34. 34 http://flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/
  35. 35 http://flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/624544600/
  36. 36 http://flickr.com/photos/danielcheong/
  37. 37 http://flickr.com/photos/danielcheong/364479286/
  38. 38 http://flickr.com/photos/scottod/
  39. 39 http://flickr.com/photos/scottod/2312706177/
  40. 40 http://flickr.com/photos/ins_bexiga/
  41. 41 http://flickr.com/photos/ins_bexiga/248721454/
  42. 42 http://flickr.com/photos/wolfgangstaudt/
  43. 43 http://flickr.com/photos/wolfgangstaudt/3016915882/
  44. 44 http://flickr.com/photos/22795056@N03/
  45. 45 http://flickr.com/photos/22795056@N03/2799437489/
  46. 46 http://flickr.com/photos/22795056@N03/
  47. 47 http://flickr.com/photos/22795056@N03/2797971946/
  48. 48 http://gundross.deviantart.com/
  49. 49 http://gundross.deviantart.com/art/Chair-72928743
  50. 50 http://flickr.com/photos/bsidez/
  51. 51 http://flickr.com/photos/bsidez/131450267/
  52. 52 http://flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/
  53. 53 http://flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/2239912324/in/set-72157605040581984/
  54. 54 http://flickr.com/photos/vincent_vega/502207298/
  55. 55 http://flickr.com/photos/neesam/
  56. 56 http://flickr.com/photos/neesam/438101096/
  57. 57 http://flickr.com/photos/briantmurphy/
  58. 58 http://flickr.com/photos/briantmurphy/2473034404/
  59. 59 http://gundross.deviantart.com/
  60. 60 http://gundross.deviantart.com/art/Postindustrial-beauty-74295597
  61. 61 http://flickr.com/photos/36236696@N00/
  62. 62 http://flickr.com/photos/36236696@N00/540458922/
  63. 63 http://www.antilimit.com/
  64. 64 http://er0k.deviantart.com/art/Steel-Office-102524158
  65. 65 http://ftpaddict.deviantart.com/art/Post-modern-burial-76915725
  66. 66 http://serret.deviantart.com/
  67. 67 http://serret.deviantart.com/art/levels-of-initiation-20395945
  68. 68 http://angelreich.deviantart.com/art/A-Moment-Suspended-In-Time-49319626
  69. 69 http://flickr.com/groups/decayed_yet_haunting/
  70. 70 http://flickr.com/groups/decay/pool/
  71. 71 http://flickr.com/groups/indecay/pool/
  72. 72 http://flickr.com/groups/urbanexploration/pool/
  73. 73 http://flickr.com/groups/some_urban_decay/pool/
  74. 74 http://flickr.com/groups/abandoned/pool/
  75. 75 http://browse.deviantart.com/photography/civilization/?order=9
  76. 76 http://www.flickr.com/groups/aboutberlincity/

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Rob Bowen is a staff writer for Web Hosting Geeks and Top Web Hosting, a longtime freelance designer, and burgeoning videographer and filmmaker whose creative voice and works can be heard and found around the web.

  1. 1

    Chris Luckhardt

    January 18, 2009 11:03 pm

    I was actually with Tim Neesam when he took that photo. I would agree with #12 about many of these being over-processed. Personally, I’m mostly a purist with my urban exploration photography. On the rare occasion I use HDR, I go for a “natural” look, if such a thing can be true of HDR photography.

    Here are some of my urban exploration photos: LINK

    0
  2. 2

    Thomson Chemmanoor

    January 18, 2009 8:12 pm

    Awesome Urban Decay Photography. A great source of beauty and inspiration.

    0
  3. 3

    wow. such beautiful decay indeed!

    0
  4. 4

    azneXPERIMENT

    January 18, 2009 8:28 pm

    Nice article. Urban decay.. hmm I grew up in the city. /nostalgia

    0
  5. 5

    This is Remarkable! Some images remind me of Da Vinci’s Drawings.
    Keep it up Guys!

    0
  6. 6

    Courtny Cotten

    January 18, 2009 8:41 pm

    Beautiful!

    0
  7. 7

    beutiful!

    0
  8. 8

    Simply Beautiful photography. Great Job!

    0
  9. 9

    Awesome captures!

    0
  10. 10

    Yay, not a terrible comic!

    0
  11. 11

    Loved it!

    0
  12. 12

    Nice photography….good collection !!

    DKumar M.

    0
  13. 13

    Some of these are over-processed HDR…but there are some amazing straight shots as well. Almost all show very good composition and creative ability.

    0
  14. 14

    Patrick McLaren

    January 18, 2009 11:38 pm

    Beautiful Photos.

    0
  15. 15

    Something different…Very nice collection!

    0
  16. 16

    I really aprecciate author. Beautifull pics

    0
  17. 17

    Thank you so much. These are beautiful!

    -2
  18. 18

    I love Marcin Stawiarz phorographies.
    Great article!

    0
  19. 19

    Nice article. Great snaps!

    0
  20. 20

    excellent collection of shots and perfect inspiration for the urban – industrial themes I am working on at the moment.

    0
  21. 21

    Awesome photos!

    0
  22. 22

    wow ! loved it !!!!!

    0
  23. 23

    nice pictures, some are a little over-photoshopped maybe ,-), some not really urban… but very nice collection anyway!

    0
  24. 24

    Beautiful.. ^^

    0
  25. 25

    just an idea, whe n you put photography lists togethor, might be nice to post a follow up list of users efforts of the chosen style a week later something.

    great pics

    0
  26. 26

    Sebastiaan Stok

    January 19, 2009 3:08 am

    Beautiful!

    I love these type of photos, every one tells its own story.
    An history, pain en hapyness. Incredible!! very inspirational.

    I’m getting goosebumps :)

    1
  27. 27

    For those who like this stuff you may be interested in my Urban Exploration photography: http://abandoniaphoto.com/

    0
  28. 28

    i love them, my favorite though is Marcin Stawiarz

    0
  29. 29

    ercie camalig

    January 19, 2009 3:43 am

    i like it but…….those photos that is taken must preserve and they must make it more beautiful………

    0
  30. 30

    Шикарно

    0
  31. 31

    beautiful work. Little is more interesting than old, decayed architecture, in my opinion. I would love to have seen these before they were Photoshopped-up with colors, overlays and HDR filters.

    Sometimes I think people grossly underestimate their work, believing the original image lacks interest until they “job it” – which is usually not the case.

    0
  32. 32

    Awesome! I love it.

    0
  33. 33

    I like the photos but not the tittle nor the idea. There is nothing beautiful about social injustice (urban decay). No matter how a photo portrays it, urban decay not only shows but tells the story of inequality and injustices done to anyone without equal access top resources.

    0
    • 34

      These photos have nothing to do with social injustice or inequality. I didn’t see a single person in any one of these photos. The reason they are decaying is because NO ONE LIVES THERE!

      0
  34. 35

    Too much HDR.

    0
  35. 36

    Nature bestowing it´s beauty on itself once again.

    0
  36. 37

    “Broadway” by Timothy Neesan is beautiful.

    0
  37. 38

    nice collection, but for an assemblage of “urban decay” there’s too much HDR and photoshop.

    0
  38. 39

    danny garcía

    January 19, 2009 8:26 am

    Wow, nice pics.

    0
  39. 40

    Jack McDaniel

    January 19, 2009 8:35 am

    Those are fantastic! The photo by Escapista looks like it had a UV filter used.

    0
  40. 41

    most of them are just boring pictures with a LOT of photoshop filters.

    0
  41. 42

    wow ! love this collection !

    0
  42. 43

    What a great post , Thanks so much for this post ;-)

    0
  43. 44

    your site says “Welcome Googler!” when I come from my google rss reader.. can you fix that?
    very nice pics btw and i love your site! Thank you very much

    0
  44. 45

    I like many of these shots, but the extensive use of HDR and/or PS make the pictures look like paintings, loosing ground with reality (to me). Of course that’s a personal feeling, but I would have enjoyed more “rawer” versions so to speak.

    0
  45. 46

    Beautiful pictures

    Although they do look like screenshots from Half-Life 2

    0
  46. 47

    Overall I thought the post was a nice collection of images. But have to agree with some of the comments about overuse/abuse of PS filters. For some true B&W photography of Detroit, MI by my husband and photographer…

    0
  47. 48

    You got the Magnus Lindquist link wrong. It links to stephmel’s flickr page. Magnus -if we’re talkign about the same guy- is from Pattern Recognition, nice guy

    0
  48. 49

    nice one ! I love them ! :)

    0
  49. 50

    I really like the broadway one. really cool stuff overall

    0
  50. 51

    The shipwreck photo isn’t urban decay … it’s the Peter Iredale on the Oregon coast near Fort Stevens State Park.

    0
  51. 52
  52. 53

    HDR overload. I kept looking at this post because some of pics were very moving. It’s just a bummer when some images lose their DOF through HDR.

    0
  53. 54

    I’ll throw my own urban exploration photography into the ring here: Flickr. I’ve been a fan of bsidez’s work for quite a while now, and although a lot of the photos here were heavily processed, I think they’re still great art in their own way.

    0
  54. 55

    Inspiring… Well Done.

    0
  55. 56

    The purity is lost through HDR.

    0
  56. 57

    beautiful~

    0
  57. 58

    Thanks for the ‘smashing’ post. I have my own collection of photographs that I took a couple months ago that would fit perfectly in this category! This proves that beauty doesn’t have to be new, clean, and in one piece, but rather to respect what has been left behind.

    0
  58. 59

    Thanks for the ‘smashing’ post. I have a group of photographs that I took a couple of months ago that would fit perfect in this collection! These remind us that ‘beauty’ doesn’t have to be new, clean, and in one piece, but rather to embrace what has been left behind!

    0
  59. 60

    HDR overload. I kept looking at this post because some of pics were very moving. It’s just a bummer when some images lose their DOF through HDR.

    0
  60. 61

    Further evidence that HDR is one of the most abused photo techniques ever. Your affinity to it is ongoing and, at least by me, not appreciated. I don’t want to whine and I know you can’t appeal to all, but just for feedback’s sake I am a web developer (HTML, CSS, jQuery, PHP) and a keen photographer for many years and I am on the very very brink of deleting your entry in my “open every day” favourites folder. Sure that comic has something to do with it, but the commenter’s are overwhelmingly juvenile and easily pleased, and offer very little constructive feedback, it’s all starting to seem like a waste of time :( Remember posts like these? https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/17/showcase-of-minimalist-and-clean-designs/ a real time-saving roundup? The above post saves me no time at all, I could just go to Flickr and type “urban HDR” (like you did). Like I said I am on the brink, I can’t be alone.

    By the way here’s that link, you can use it as a post if you like. My title is “5000+ super-incredible urban decay pics

    0
  61. 62

    Well i’d like to say i’ve just found out i have 2 pictures on here. I can say hand on heart that my 2 are neither manipulted with HDR or even photoshoped (I don’t have it and couldn’t be bothered trying to work it if i did)
    They were edited on Picasso with a little tweak. Nothing more.
    I think there are a few other stunning pics on here too. HDR or not.

    0
  62. 63

    Ignatz Horowitz

    January 20, 2009 7:00 am

    #3 would have been nice if the highlights weren’t blown. And the cartoonie HDR pics? Please…enough’s enough. 11,14, and 21 can hardly be included as “urban”. #30 is almost good. Most of the guys on this site are trying waaay too hard, though. Just let it go.

    0
  63. 64

    Ignatz Horowitz

    January 20, 2009 7:21 am

    Oh, and Chris (post #18)? You CAN get a natural look using HDR…if it’s done right.

    0
  64. 65

    all i can say is, i appreciate the fact that two of my images were chosen to be displayed in the group. my two images are not HDR, but have some minor tweaks in photoshop. i do believe there is an art to taking a picture, but photoshop can be a wonderfull extension to the art. sometimes HDR images have the dramatic feel one might be trying and get across. to each their own, i say

    0
  65. 66

    UNA COLECCION EXCELENTE DE FOTOS, MUCHAS DE ELLAS SIRVEN PARA HACER REFLEXION

    0
  66. 67

    Oleg aka Xtraboy

    January 21, 2009 1:15 am

    Good collection of decay images. I do this type of photos too…

    Enjoy my collections on Flickr

    0
  67. 68

    Collection looks good, except a few useless (really scrap) photos :-D

    0
  68. 69

    I liked it so much,keep it up guys

    0
  69. 70

    Vincent Dizon

    January 23, 2009 4:51 am

    These pictures are orgasmic!

    0
  70. 71

    Daniel Hameed

    January 23, 2009 7:40 pm

    Those places look so lonly and sad, and they stirred something within. They have left a great impression in my heart.

    0
  71. 72

    Ashwani Wanganeo

    January 24, 2009 10:37 pm

    Excellent depiction of time lapse. Need to be made public for future presevation

    0
  72. 73

    Wow! Really great photos! This single webpage has completely changed my view on religion forever. You should check out my website sometime, in which I make lists of things I’ve bought/rented/listened to. It’s completely unrelated!

    0
  73. 74

    I do’nt have a slow computer, ‘ts just that your website is fucking unclear. Put something like scroll down on it. Instead of the click here button. But eh yeh, great pictures…

    0
  74. 75

    These images are amazing – my favourites being the old hotels and theatres. We struggle to find urban decay here in my city, IF you can find something it’s locked up tight. The struggle is to find it!

    0
  75. 76

    Wow, what a sit up and take notice collection. Were some of these taken outside the US? They have a South American feel to the architecture. They’re great thanks for sharing.

    0
  76. 77

    this was so real n inchantin really beutiful n awesome

    0
  77. 78

    Wow! Very cool pics.
    Some pictures from abandoned places in Germany you will find here:

    0
  78. 79

    shopped.

    0
  79. 80

    Very nice images, wish I could visit a lot of the places with the work I do.

    0
  80. 81

    Looking at all these photographs I am beginning to think photoshop has some kinda new widget or brush or button called “decayify.” Come on folks, there is plenty of “awesome” decay around without the need to hit that widget.

    -2
  81. 82

    Some absolutely fantastic pictures here! Is that old theatre/cinema interior the Jesmond Cinema in Newcastle? I could be totally wrong but have a feeling I’ve seen a pic of the inside before. I used to walk past it every day while I was at university. It’s a great old building. Either way, your pics are awesome!

    0
  82. 83

    zachery chinevere

    March 9, 2011 10:50 am

    i love these pics even tho many may not like urban decay but who cares because not all areas should be nice

    0
  83. 84

    I really wish someone had told me I was featured in smashing magazine. At least I could have bragged about it while it was still fresh.

    It’s the thought that counts and I’m glad the image made the cut. :)

    1
  84. 85

    Jackeline Westerholm

    October 14, 2011 11:59 am

    I don’t even know how I finished up here, however I assumed this submit was once great. I do not recognize who you might be however certainly you are going to a well-known blogger if you happen to are not already ;) Cheers!

    0

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