Beauty in Decay interview with Mr RomanyWG/Jeremy Gibbs

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 10.09.2010


A Beauty in Decay special interview with Mr Jeremy Gibbs aka RomanyWG.
1 book, 192 pages, 49 photographers, 14 countries, priceless!

Hi Jeremy,
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about Beauty in Decay which has been for sale since this month!
First of all I have to make a big compliment, the book looks amazing and I have heard nothing but positive reactions on forums and from friends, relatives and other explorers who have seen the book.

When and why did you decide to go ahead with making a book about urban exploring?

I bought all the books I could find on abandonment and decay, even a few Blurb books, but I felt they hadn’t captured how I see these places and the feelings you get from exploring them. So basically I wanted to put together a book that I would like to buy. First of all that meant it had to be good HDR, now we can have a debate about was it good and bad HDR but no one will agree, and also as many great photographers as I could get together from this great flickr ‘family’ out there.

What would you do differently if there is a next time?

I have thought about doing one on the finer details and the items left in abandonment, the items that add ‘soul’ to these places. But maybe it would be good just to do another ‘best of the year’ pictures again, we’ll see….. Watch this space!

There are so many great pictures in the book, which picture would you consider your most favorite?

As you say, there are so many great photographs in the book it’s a hard one, and everyone’s choice will I’m sure be different. But if I had to pick one I would probably choose ‘Broadway’ by Timothy Neesam and overall I would choose Midnight-Digitals amazing surreal shots that add another dimension to the book.IMO.


If think a lot of people already would like to know if there will be a Beauty in Decay II?

I was just talking to the publisher today and he is up for it, so I guess the answer is Hell Yeah!

Did you have any negative response to the book or people not willing to participate? Explorers can be a bit media shy.

It’s a long story but I was ‘asked’ by the American distributor to put in as many pictures from the US as possible. Now I had a big problem finding quality shots from the US that weren’t too over the top with the HDR. Believe me I searched for a very long time and all of the photographers I approached, excepting the 5 that did make it into the book and of whom I’m eternally grateful, asked for payment of some kind. Well of coarse I couldn’t just pay one guy without paying the others so that was never an option, but I wasted hours trying to twist their arms and do you know that in the end they would never have made the book anyway.
One problem I had, and I’m sure this affected nearly everyone (and I promise I won’t do it again) was that I asked for high res shots from everyone of everything I thought would work well in the book and of coarse I didn’t need half of those shots in the end. I apologise to everyone involved for that, next time I will put the book together online and then request the files. The problem then would come when the files come in and I find the quality isn’t up to scratch. We did have a lot of problems with quality control and quite a few were dropped because of these issues. Some shots you may have thought would have looked better slightly larger, but more often than not they were at the largest they could at the highest resolution
Overall I think I had, not counting the Americans, just three people that were on board then dropped out for one reason or another and maybe half a dozen that didn’t get back to me at all. Unfortunately I also had to let down a further 29 photographers that had initially sent in files, that wasn’t a pleasant experience I can tell you.
The best response was from a very experienced explorer, I won’t give their name but they wrote.
In the beginning I had some concerns about what you wrote in the article called “The Urban Explorer: Endangered Species?”. I have participated in (Censored) and a couple of my pictures have been used as book covers and I have been featured in The Digital Photographer. This made me question myself about the harm that I could bring to the whole urban exploration scene (media, publicity) because I have seen Urbex to raise in popularity. A lot of new wannabe explorers do not respect our ethics anymore. They have seen us in media and want to imitate what we are doing without our background and philosophy. A lot of longtime explorers have become very quite and stopped to publish their work on Forums and Communities.
But I think that “Beauty in Decay” is an homage to the work of all those explorers that do this activity seriously for a long time and does not harm the image of urban exploration at all. You did a really great job here.
That one email made it all worth while.

What is your opinion about HDR vs. single shots? Did you have any trouble combining HDR with single shot photos in the book?

That was the main problem I had, getting one shot to work well against another across the page. It doesn’t really work when you have HDR opposite a single shot. Of coarse the best ones that work are the ones that you don’t know if they are HDR or not. I still don’t know with some of them.
I have just had a quick flick through the book and would hazard a guess that out of the 142 shots there are only 15 shots that aren’t HDR.

How long did it take, from the initial idea to the book finally in stores!

Do you know I still haven’t seen it in any stores. I long for that moment and drag my kids around all the bookstores at the weekends. Sad I know.
A friend phoned me 10 days before I had even seen a copy of the book and said he had just seen it in the Saatchi Gallery.
But to get back to your question, Shit! I’ve just looked at the first emails I sent out and that was a year ago to the day. I never imagined it had taken that long.


What are sales looking like against forecast? And what is the biggest sales country?

No idea which country it is selling best in, yet. I do know that after my radio interview on the Arena programme on Irish radio a few weeks ago. 2 books were ordered from the Emerald Isle. The power of radio eh?
The first print was 6,000. You have to order that many to keep the costs down. The book is printed in China and the shipping is the costliest item and takes 6 weeks. We also wanted to keep the price as low as possible and although the distributor wanted to sell it at £25 we thought it would sell more units if it was under £20, so then you don’t go above 192 pages. I think it has sold several thousand to date and was the best selling photography book on Amazon for a few days. I wanted to put an exhibition together for all the contributors as a thank you and to generate some money for them from the sales of their amazing photographs but unfortunately it was harder and more expensive than I had thought. Next time though, hopefully.

You can find a lot of street art/graffiti in and around abandoned buildings. And you know what the general thought in the community is about street art/graffiti. What do you find acceptable as street art?

I only photograph pieces of art in abandonment that I feel make use of their surroundings. It’s all about the placement of a piece. Probably 90% of what I photograph is in abandoned/gutted warehouses that wouldn’t interest most urban explorers. I hate tags just as much as everyone, but a piece that makes you stop in your tracks and smile like has got to be worth a photograph in my book. You’ve got to remember that they have just as much right to be there as we have, which is none by the way. I am just as pissed off as the next guy though if they paint in historical buildings or anything architecturally important.

You’ve just bought a new car, so the question that is on everybody’s mind is….
Do you have comprehensive car insurance including European cover?

I do have a new car. Well an old new car. I bought one exactly the same colour, make, model, etc but with 10,000 more miles at 138,000 on the clock. I loved that fuckin’ car, I used to sleep in it on my explores around Europe I hope I can still do that in the new car without the worry of some c**t throwing a firebomb through the window. It’s a concern but hopefully I’ll get over it and YES I will get European cover.

Thanks so much Jeremy for taking the time to answer these questions! Can’t wait until Beauty in Decay II comes out!
For sale at

Publisher: Carpetbombingculture

Amazon France


These are the photographers that made this amazing book so freaking great!
andre govia
RomanyWG –
ilja hummel
Timm Suess
Timothy Neesam
Scallop Holden
Alt_Gr |…
Bas van Duijn
Christophe Regnaud
anvosa vossi
Frits Vrielink
gb3 photography
il COE
James C Farmer
cypherone –
MaNOuCH !!!
Martino – NL
Olivier Burnside
Gregory Kowalski
xaph32 Xavier
Pedro Moura Pinheiro
Street-Art Hack 69



#1sophos9September 10, 2010, 12:46 pm

Good to hear more about the book and thoughts behind it!

#2il COESeptember 10, 2010, 2:27 pm

Very good job, Jeremy!
Thank you very much for the very interesting opportunity to be published on your great book!
I’m honored!!September 10, 2010, 10:46 pm

yeah…thats a great one!
next time i get my piece of the cake..hahah….

no just kidding.
awesome book..of course i orderd one!

cool work with the interview guys!

#4Mark BlundellSeptember 11, 2010, 1:31 pm

Mice writeup and good response from my friend JG. Hope to make the cut next time!

#5TomSeptember 28, 2010, 6:51 pm

Bought the book today. Love it.

    #6sophos9September 28, 2010, 7:02 pm

    Excellent my friend, glad you enjoy the book – its great

#7DaveRogersJanuary 18, 2011, 2:12 pm

Gas masks, always f**king gas masks and HDR! GARH!

    #8sophos9January 18, 2011, 2:46 pm

    Well each person has their own style, what one person likes, another dislikes – just the way life is 🙂

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