Amazing urbex history & Reginald Van de Velde, November 2009

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 11.11.2009

It was great news when the Talk Urbex community asked for Reginald Van de Velde (aka Suspiciousminds) to take the seat for our Talk Urbex Guest of the Month and even better when Reginald gave us the thumbs up to run the interview.

Some people need no introduction, Reginald has an amazing portfolio of great explorations over a long time. Get ready for a whirlwind tour of Suspiciousmind’s urbex adventures…

Reginald, can you start us off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m a graphic designer at These Days, a big agency in Antwerp (Belgium). I’m doing mostly on line stuff like websites, campaigns, emails, …

You have a crazy amount of photos from your years of urban exploring – can you share your favourite location and why?

Difficult one. In my opinion a favourite location must be the sum of

1) the level of difficulty to get inside

2) its unique contents and atmosphere

3) not known by many

The Wintercircus (aka Garage Mahy) scores quite high. I got inside in the nineties, but without a camera. Many years and numerous attempts later I finally managed to capture it. And just before the great clean-up (they’re reconverting this place as we speak), I made one final visit. The melancholy and grandeur of this place is what fascinates me the most

What do you take in your photography bag when exploring – what is your favourite photography kit?

My standard photography bag has a Nikon D80 camera and four lenses: a Nikkor 10-24mm, a Nikkor 50mm 1.8, an old Zenitar 16mm Fish-eye, and a standard 18-135mm zoom.

On most locations I will use the wide-angle, and get into the details using the 50mm. I carry an SB-600 flash unit around but I rarely use it – I always prefer natural daylight above flashlight. Furthermore I have a Maglite, the smaller version.

The big one is one great piece of hardware, but it’s too heavy in my opinion. Some gloves (ideal for winter shoots and climbs), a filter mask to protect my lungs from fine dust particles and asbestos and some traditional photo filters, which I rarely use (polarizing filter, infrared filter, …).

And last but not least, a beer. Or two.

Can you remember what and where your first urban exploration was, can you share it with us?

All credit to my dad who took me on a first exploration in the early eighties. On the left side of our house there was an abandoned stone cutting factory, and on the right side an abandoned garage.

To our surprise we found two decayed but magnificent cars in that garage: and Alpha Romeo sports car and a Ferrari sports car. I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere of that place. You enter a world no one ever sees, no one ever visits.

It’s a world within a world. Welcome to my world!

Can you share with us your worst urban explore?

Checking a dozen of locations on a single day and not getting into any of them. Happened. And will happen again. I mark those and return within 6 months. Things change.

The worst explore in terms of grossness happened somewhere in the nineties. We explored an abandoned tunnel that connected the river “De Leie” to some place else. It was only doable with a canoe. To enter the passage you had to peddle trough a smaller “entry tube” that was 100 meters long and 1 meter high.

We were in the middle of that tunnel when a huge boat passed by. Its movement created a wave that got so big that the complete tunnel was flooded. A tsunami approached us and for a full minute we were devastated by huge amounts of water, debris, dead rats, plants and mud. People could smell us from miles.

But a great explore, nonetheless.

What would be your advice for new urban explorers that are getting the passion?

Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because urban exploration is currently en vogue. Far too many people start exploring like there’s no tomorrow. A couple of months later they’re burned out and loose interest. Take it slow. And gain respect. Not towards the community, but towards the integrity of a place.

Sharing is not always caring. Dig up some history, it will amaze you. And the most important one: keep exploring in a true sense. I’ve heard stories of people who backed out on a mission because they had to wade through a wood that wasn’t described in the “how-to” they found on the net about that location.

There’s no manual, my friends. Creativity is key. Ignorance is bliss. If we knew what we are looking for it wouldn’t be called exploring, right? And remember – just say no. To drugs, not to your dreams.

Finally, if you could stop one thing in regard to urbex – what would it be?

We don’t own locations. We’re temporary visitors, passing by. We have no control on what happens at such locations. Thievery, vandalism, drug use, squatters, graffers, … Abandoned places attract different people. And there’s nothing that can be done about it.

Just keep loving what you’re doing and enjoy the sheer momentum of an abandonment. It’s fragile!

Reginald Van de Velde


Thanks goes to Reginald for taking to the time and sharing his thoughts on urban exploration. I can fully recommend kicking back and going through Reginald’s photos and website – such a good history documented and please take a sec to share the thanks for the interview



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