November 2010 with NeQo PhosGraphis

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 28.11.2010

First of all a big thanks to Neqo for taking the time to answer my questions!
Don’t forget to check out his website and be prepared to be amazed!
His mindblowing sets from Chernobyl are easily some of the best out there!

Here we go!

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Off course, but let’s start by thanking you for the invitation.
I live in Belgium, I’m 38 years old and I work as a Sales Representative. That is one of the main advantages of my job. I am always on the road and ready to discover new things.

When did you start exploring and what triggered the urbexvirus for you?

When did I started? Hmm… hard to tell.
I guess I have always been interested in abandoned places in general, even from a very young age.
I come from a rather large family. We used to have a habit of visiting my grandparents on national holiday and meet all other members of the family. I recall myself long walks with all my aunts and uncles. Since we live in a area with an industrial character, we also walked along old factories. There is one I remember very good actually. It was an old filature (textile industry) close to where my grandparents lived, with hundreds of old industrial sewing machines still intact. I guess my age must been around 6-7 years old. Let me tell you I was pretty impressed back then.


Ring Ring by NeQo PhosGraphis, on Flickr

You have been doing this for a long time, have you seen any big changes in the urbexscene. In terms of attitude towards/or a massive increase in popularity of urban exploring?

Yes off course I noticed some changes.
When I first started, there was only a very closed community of people doing this. Almost everybody knew everybody. It was also not done to ask a location where somebody had been. You just went off exploring, searching for new stuff on the way to the known locations. Slowly getting recognition from the older explorers and getting accepted, gaining trust and respect from other explorers. Then you got the better locations from them!
I came now to a point where I realized I just can’t visit all the locations I know. But still I search for new locations, from the news, internet, colleagues. That is the explorer part in me, it’s stronger than myself. I need to find new things.
The new era of explorers are more like tourists, sorry if I insult people with this, but they just don’t understand that there comes are many hours of research into finding a new discovery. I put a lot of time and effort looking for a new location: Spending several evenings online searching for clues, driving 2 hours towards a ‘possible’ lead and another hour to find a way inside if possible.
The attitude now from a lot new explorers is that they want those locations for free. They want it fast and it always needs to be bigger and nicer locations. It must be exclusive, it must be something to show off towards friends or relatives. Those are not explorers in my eyes, those are just plain tourists…
Remember, it is not a race. Sometimes you are ahead, another time somebody else is. In the end it just isn’t important.

What kind of location would you say is your favorite? Residential, industrial, military or other?

Oh I really like every kind of exploration, because every location has it’s own beauty.
But off course I have my preferences. I am very fond of industrial structures. Raw industry to be exact. Old mines, Steel industry, Power stations, things like that. Have you ever noticed that there was actually eye for architecture in those buildings? It was not just another factory. No, it was a prestige-project in those days. People were proud to work there. You can notice that in architecture and the sense of symmetry of the buildings. I really have a lot of respect for those locations, also because they become rare in these fast modern times.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for people who are just starting with urban exploring?

The only thing I could recommend new starters is to start looking in your own area for locations. Don’t be blindfolded by all those incredible and fantastic locations already visited by tons of people. There is nothing more magical then be the first in a new location. No matter if it’s a super one or a trashed thing. Locations enough, the old ones don’t last very long, so it’s better to find and be the first in new ones.
But the main importance is: Think safe! Don’t risk your life for a photo.


Chernobyl’s Ferrywheel by NeQo PhosGraphis, on Flickr

Do you think of yourself as a photographer who explorers or as a explorer who takes pictures?

That is a difficult question. Like I told before I already had a big fascination for abandoned locations from a very young age. It was only in a later state in my life, when I seriously started with photography, that I discovered there was a whole scene around UE. I was no longer alone and my twist-in-the-head had a name. But I always try to make original, art-like pictures. Not the “I’ve been there so I have to prove it” kind of pictures.
So I guess I’m a good mixture of both.

How many locations did you visit and what was your favorite?

Off course one of my favs is still Villa St-Marie when I found it. It was not that big, but 25 years of crisp decay with a great story. What do you want more if you discover something like that?
But every location has it’s own uniqueness and beauty. Look around, play with colors, play with compositions.
My counter now stands around 400 locations for the moment. But there are only 170 online on my website. You should know I am one and a half years behind processing my pictures. So, just keep an eye on my website, there is a lot more to come.


p4271745_pt_border by NeQo PhosGraphis, on Flickr

What is your dream location?

That would be a factory, closed down for more than 50 years, without graffiti or vandalism, only natural decay, fully equipped with machinery. But I think that will remain a dream.
Although, Pripyat in Chernobyl comes pretty close to that.

What gear do you use when you go out on a full day or days of exploring?

Except for my camera gear and tripod I don’t use any gear. Light is an important aspect, so don’t forget your flashlight. But the best “gear” is my buddy explorer for the mental support. Thank you mate!


Le Théâtre des Reines (Fr) by NeQo PhosGraphis, on Flickr

What are your thoughts on HDR photography?

I have very mixed feelings about HDR and I almost never use it. I think it’s only used correctly when you can barely see it. I’m really not fond of those exaggerated colors and cartoonish photographs. If a picture is not good from the beginning, hdr won’t save it.

Who would like to see as a guest of the month on Talkurbex and why?

There are some good real explorers out there, but they like to remain unknown and left alone. I respect them a lot because they have a whole different view on UE. They don’t need all the media attention, they just do the thing what they like the most: Exploring and documenting.


CTTR Rooftop by NeQo PhosGraphis, on Flickr

If you could pick your ultimate crew to go out exploring with, who would be in it and why?

I already had the honor to go on several trips with my favorite hardcore team. Explorers who are already longer in the scene and have a lot of respect for each other. That is something that is hard to find these days. Sorry that I don’t give concrete names, but if they read this they’ll know that I am referring to them.
Thank you guys for the happy times, keep the scene alive !


Interview by Captain Caveman


#1RuleJanuary 14, 2011, 12:41 pm

Great interview Neqo!
Hope to meet again soon to continue the search for the stargate and try not to forget any more beers while running for security.

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