Your City Off Limits…

At street level, architecture, shops, street art and people often catch your eye. It is these aspects that make a city so vibrant, but beneath our feet, off the beaten track and not visible on maps is a secret world you never knew existed, waiting to be explored. An urban jungle, packed full of derelict, abandoned and decaying hidden gems that have been forgotten yet full of life and fascinating stories.

Inspiring you to embrace urban exploration in your local city, Canon spoke with six urbex photographers across Europe; Alina Rudya, Holly-Marie Cato, Nicanor Garcia, Ivo Kaijser, Alistair Wheeler and Riccardo Zanutto, to bring you a guide on how to urban explore. The following information offers top tips for discovering off limits locations, helpful pointers to capture urbex scenes from a unique perspective as well as advice on essential explorer kit.

Urban exploration embraces the art and adventure of seeking out and capturing cast-off locations that lay hidden behind the scenes of cities. From abandoned tube stations to disused factories, these fascinating locations offer a completely new perspective on cities, as we know them.

In recent years, the urbex trend has exploded at a fast pace and has become a growing trend amongst adventure enthusiasts, who have taken outdoor pursuits from the countryside into the urban landscape. Photography sits at the heart of urbex and is used to document, celebrate and share these hidden worlds before they crumble away unnoticed.

Paris metro tunnel

Photo credit: Nicanor García

Abandoned location in Rotterdam

Urbex Top Tips

Before embarking on urbex adventures, take the time to plan what you want to see. The internet is a great starting point to research and identify potential locations and spaces. Also consider asking friends and fellow instagrammers for their must visit urbex locations to gather as much inspiration as possible. Remember, once you have decided on which locations you would like to visit, identify exact addresses and seek permissions for entry.

When you arrive at urbex sites take the time to map out your route to ensure you fully experience the space. Look for details that will help you to piece together the history of the location, anything from the papers on the floor, inscriptions on the walls or items that have been left behind. Every space has a story to tell, it is up to you to uncover it.

Lastly, don’t forget your camera. You’ll want to capture all the incredible details and document your urbex journey from the moment you arrive to when you leave. You can tell your story though photographs of things like doorways, tunnels and spiral staircases, as well as the little details, like graffiti, peeling paint and decaying furniture or items left behind.

What to pack?

Camera – Document your urbex adventures from start to finish, capturing every detail as you explore to share and keep

Gorilla pod – Many urbex locations will often be abandoned and poorly lit. A flexible tripod is therefore essential for setting up shots in small spaces and achieving sharp photography

Bottle of water – Whilst exploring it’s easy to get caught up in the moment but it’s important to remember to keep yourself hydrated

Comfortable shoes – Wear light footwear to allow you to explore freely and feel the many textures beneath your feet

Flashlight – A small but powerful light can be used to brighten up your shots and pave the way if the locations you’re exploring are dark

What to pack for urban exploration and photography

Urban exploration in Madrid

Rules of Urbex...

Product Information

Whilst on your own urbex adventures, try the following cameras to capture scenes uncovered to keep, share and inspire others:

Feeling inspired? Share your photos

If the above has inspired you to explore, why not share your own off limit locations and experiences via our Gallery? As well as letting the world see your work, you can view and like photos from other photographer lovers and try our monthly photo challenge.