For some time I’ve wanted to interview the members of the Mod team, mostly because I’m nosey but also because it’d be cool to find out a little more about the guys who keep Talk Urbex such a cool place to be (which also doubles up as nosiness….) This month it’s Happyshopper under the spotlight…..
1). Tell us a little about yourself.
Uh… Hello, my name’s James, and I’m not an alcoholic. But not for a lack of trying.
I’m a web designer who rediscovered a love of derelict and neglected places after buying my first DSLR a couple of years ago. I wanted to get into photography for a long time but the cost was always prohibitive, and when I eventually did it wasn’t long before I grew tired of snapping flowers and the cat.
Not that my cat isn’t a sexy little thing. I would never dream of even suggesting she was anything other than perfect.
2). How would you describe you job to a four year old?
Modding or website design?
Well modding the forum is mostly banning sellers of naughty pills, with a little talking about everyone behind their back thrown in. But not you, dear reader, never you. We like you.
Website design is poo. I believe that’s a technical term suitable for a 4 year old, yes?
3). If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Do Not Buy This Book.
4). Where was you first explore and can you tell us a little about it?
My first explore was a hospital in my home town. It was originally the infirmary for a Victorian work house which was converted fully into a hospital in the 1920s. It finally closed in 2007.
It was my cousin’s fault. "Hey, do you want to go have a look at that hospital round the corner tomorrow, it closed a couple of months ago?" was the question he put to some of us on Boxing Day while we were hiding from elderly relatives.
Well that was that, I was hooked.
5). Exploring, Photography, Socialising, Cat & Mouse, Research. Put these UE elements in order of personal importance.
You’ve done the hard work for me I’m afraid. For me exploring and photography are the most important. Doing it whilst meeting people who share your love of asbestos is just a bonus really.
Cat & mouse I will take or leave, I enjoy an exciting entry but once inside sometimes you just want a nice relaxing mooch.
Research can be dull, but has to be done to find places. I do enjoy researching the history of places mind you, just not the locations.
6). Tell us about your funniest/scariest urban exploration experience.
My trip to High Royds Asylum was probably the funniest. There were 3 of us walking around in one of the more stripped out areas on the fringe of the site trying to work our way central. We had to be careful because there were workers around – it’s been converted into luxury flats – so when we heard other people moving around we stopped, listened and looked.
They weren’t workmen, no high-vis, and they didn’t have cameras. Chavs or metal-thieves, we therefore assumed. The had obviously heard us too because they were moving backwards the way they had come pretty quickly. We took the opportunity to hop out a window and head towards the main target: The admin block.
Half an hour later we had got ourselves trapped in a courtyard with no obvious onward route. We were right outside admin, but all the windows were boarded. I climbed a drainpipe to see if we could go over the roof and in but they’d stripped the tiles from the roof and it was tarpaulin only in the direction we wanted.
Then the chavs came sprinting towards us from out the window we had climbed through. Even if the others could get away I was stuck on the roof! Shit! Well it turns out they were other explorers who had earlier assumed we were stripping metal, as we had assumed they were. We joined forces to make a team of 7 people.
To get into admin we decided the only way was through one of the broken windows. They had boarded them, but at the top of one of the windows, 12 or so feet off the floor, there was an 8 inch gap! Well what a mission that was, with 5 of us through explorer #6 got right royally wedged in! It probably took 10 minutes to get him through that window. The only thing that could have made things worse would be security walking in to see him stuck half in, half out
Anyway, we made it inside and moved to the main hall. We were still all sauntering around the stage area in the hall when security walked in on a routine patrol. One tiny Indian fellow walks unawares straight into a large group of men, 3 of which are large hairy tattooed Hells Angel look-a-likes.
"What are you doing?"
"Taking pictures mate."
"Oh. Well you’re not supposed to be here…"
"Ok mate, no harm done, we’ll be off shortly."
"You are leaving soon?"
And with that he walked off.
So we did leave. Eventually
I guess you had to be there.
7). What are your urban exploration plans for 2013?
I’m hoping to head back into Europe, there are some fantastic sites. A couple of days in North West France, and I want to hit Belgium and Germany again if at all possible, but since I’m looking at an expensive holiday with the wife I don’t know how likely that all is. Still, seeing the temples of Cambodia are worth it, I think!
I was to get into more underground exploring, mines and so on. I really enjoy it when I do it, and I live close enough to Wales that it’s not a huge mission! Just need to pull my finger out.
8). What’s in your kitbag and what is next on your wishlist?
Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, and Nikkor 50mm f1.8. Reasonable kit on a budget. I carry a fair few accessories which allow me to do what I need on the cheap, all this photography malarkey is expensive!
I’m lusting over TLR cameras at the moment, I really want a Mamiyaflex C2!
9). Who are your favourite photographers, urbex and non-urbex?
Well there are many. Sorry to those who I may miss, I can’t possibly list them all, but in no particular order:
Eva Van Oosten
Seriously, look at them all. They’re all awesome.
10). Your favorite 3 photos (of your own) and why you seem to like them more than anyone else?
These change all the time. Usually they’re pretty recent images…
Into His Marvelous Light
I love this image almost as much as I love the location – Chapel Rose. Everything just works. I like to experiment with my processing, and I think this is probably my most successful experimentation so far. Needless to say there’s a little bit of Photoshop in there.
A Little Light Reading
Furhouse is my favorite UK site by quite a margin, and the library is just something else. Something special. I really enjoy this detail shot, although others probably prefer the shots of the full room.
Hellnar Lava Rock Formations
One from Iceland at the end of the summer. I just love this image, the extremely textural qualities of it. This one is just for me, I don’t know if anyone else likes it particularly. But that’s not what you asked for, its it?
11). You knock over a barrel of glowing gloop whilst trying to get an awesome angle on a chair under a window in the cellar of an MOD base….. your feet are covered, you know there’s going to be some super cool mutation about to happen…… If you could be a superhero, what power would you possess?
Well invisibility would help with access, although seeing a floating camera bag fly past might arouse suspicion… Flight would be cool, but a bit clichéd… Magneto’s powers were cool, he could fly with help from a little metal, plus you could walk into any power plant or factory and add instant rust – none of that waiting years before taking photos rubbish!
12). On location you find a gold lamp, give it a polish and low and behold a genie appears, kindly granting you three wishes. What would you wish for? (More wishes is not allowed)
These questions are getting a little weird, but I’ll roll with it.
1. Who wouldn’t ask for money? Seriously, you would. Because money can buy you camera equipment and petrol, and therefore happiness.
2. Things I couldn’t buy with my new found fortune… Politicians who care more about the country and their role in making it work than they do about their job and career. People who will do what needs to be done and not what will win them favor with the public. Spineless self-serving pillocks, the lot of them.
3. World peace sounds sensible. Plus that answer wins you beauty pageants.
13).If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
My cat. Because it would be awesome to be a cat.
Sleep. Cuddle. Nap. Eat. Cuddle. Climb that tall thing! Snooze. Eat. Hunt socks under the bed. Doze. Cuddle. Eat.
I could do that. Like a pro.
Very cool answers there, big thanks to James and his cat for providing such inspiration