1. Where do you live and how long have you been into photography?
I live in Brantford, Ontario which is just west of Toronto. I've been into photography for probably 10 years or more, but I only got more serious about it in the last 4 years.
2. What gear are you using these days?
Primarily I use my Sony a7ii, Sony Zeiss 16-35mm, but I still use my Sony a6000 when I want to pack light.
3. How do you compare exploring in Canada to exploring in the US?
When exploring in Canada, I have found that abandoned places can be very far apart! So a day of exploring may involve lots of driving with few locations. In contrast with some American cities, you may find many abandoned places all less than an hour apart. So with a full day of exploring in an American city you can get to numerous locations which I like.
Photo by: @_soliveyourlife_
4. What do you like/dislike about exploring close to home?
I don’t dislike exploring close to home, but I seem to do it less and less! I am very passionate about travel and love to road trip to cities I’ve never been to before. There is something thrilling about coming to a new city and it's a blank slate, and you don't know what you are going to find.
5. How many times have you explored in the US and what we're some of your favorite cities/places?
Honestly I haven’t kept track of how many times I’ve been to the US to explore! Probably the city I’ve visited the most is Detroit and I stopped counting how often I had been after visiting 10 times. So Detroit is definitely one of my favourite cities to visit. I’ve been so often to that city because I love the community of photographers / explorers there. They have been incredibly welcoming to me since the beginning when I knew nothing of the hobby. And as often as I have been, I still haven’t seen everything! Another favourite city is one that I visited recently which is St. Louis.
Photo by: @_soliveyourlife_
6. What made you interested in photographing abandoned locations?
Well I have to be honest and credit instagram with that! I had been interested in photography for many years and took travel photos, but at that point I wasn't passionate about it like I am now. When I saw photos by @_bokat_ and @sloppystick of abandoned places, I was so intrigued by them and it lit a spark in me. I started photographing rural abandoned homes and was then invited by a friend to go to shoot abandoned places in Detroit shortly after and I've been hooked ever since.
7. What's the craziest thing you've seen when exploring?
When exploring, abandoned places can be typically found in the worst parts of a city. It's something that I've done so often now that I'm not shocked by much anymore. I've come across scrappers and homeless people to a group of teenagers wielding baseball bats!
8. Is there any specific routine you have or type of music you listen to on your way to a location?
No. On my way to a abandoned location I'm usually in the car with friends and I prefer to chat. My favourite people to explore with live far from me and I don't get to see them as often as I'd like.
9. What advice would you give to someone who wants to explore abandoned places?
It's cliche to say but it's really true: take only pictures, leave only footprints. I'd like to implore to people new to the hobby to be respectful of abandoned locations. All too often beautiful abandoned places are being destroyed so they can't be enjoyed by other photographers.
10. What software do you use and how would you describe your editing style?
I use Lightroom to edit my pictures. As far as my editing style, I find that dark and moody images inspire me and that style seems to show in my images.
11. What's the most important thing you've learned from photography?
That's a tough question! I've learned so much in the over the last number of years of doing what I do. I don't think I could pick just one thing I've learned. But firstly, I guess I would say be humble. I found out pretty quick when I started this that I knew very little. But the exploring community has been very good to me and other photographers have been more than willing to share their knowledge which I am thankful for. I've learned much from surrounding myself with talented people who regularly inspire me and push me to improve at my craft. Also, never stop learning. As far as I've come in photography I realize I still need to go further. Lastly, be open minded and don't set limits on yourself. If you want to pursue something, go after it. Years ago when I started this hobby I couldn't imagine doing the things that I've done. I've been to some incredible places and met amazing people doing something I love very much. I feel very thankful and know things can only get better!
12. What do you like to shoot aside from abandonments? Besides shooting abandoned places I love to shoot nature. Probably one of my favourite images that I've ever taken is a picture of my son in front of Brandywine Falls near Whistler, BC.
13. What interests do you have outside of photography?
Spending time with my family and loved ones and my dog. I love hiking. Also, because I'm on the go so much, I love watching movies in my down time and horror is my favourite genre. But what drives me the most is travel. When I get back from one trip I'm already thinking of the next. I'm planning trips for next year already! I'm just having a hard time deciding where to go!
14. Where can we see/follow your work?
You can see my work on Instagram, my handle is @_soliveyourlife_. I also post my images on Flickr and can be found under the same name _soliveyourlife_.