1. What’s your name & where are you from?
I’m Stacey and I’m from a city called Mississauga which is part of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).
2. How’s the abandoned scene out there, eh?
There isn’t that much abandonment in my area, but every once in a while a gem or two will pop up before it is sold and renovated. Because of this, I travel to the US frequently, to explore where abandonment seems to be more wide spread. So far every American explorer I meet always gets a kick out that word! EHHHHHH! When myself and @megoftea were exploring in Virginia, we met up with a couple of girl explorers, and it was a day and a half into our trip before I used that expression and the girls laughed and were so excited to hear it. They said they had been waiting and waiting for one of us to say it!
3. How long ago did you get into urban exploring and what has kept you interested in this hobby?
I discovered urban exploring about 4 years ago when I joined Instagram. Initially I thought it was gross and I didn’t know why anyone would want to do it. But then I came across a few artists who made abandonment look like fine art. And it was at that point I knew I wanted to try it. Now that I have been exploring for 3.5 year, I find my motivation in my research. It’s the best feeling when you’ve been looking online for hours and finally find that one hint that leads to another hint that leads you to an address. I’m super stubborn and avoid asking other people for locations. I like the challenge - sometimes I lose sleep when I’m looking for a specific place and I dream it. I think it might be a sickness…lol!
4. What's been one of your craziest moments in exploring?
The craziest moment would have to be when @bando.bill and I stumbled upon an absolutely gorgeous church in pristine condition. I had never seen the church anywhere on IG or in any of my research, prior to arriving in that particular city. After we had hit our desired spots, Eric wanted to drive around and look for things. I'm so glad we did because it was such an amazing surprise.
5. Exploring I'm sure has its risks. What's the scariest moment you've had?
The scariest moment was a time myself and some friends were in a church in Philly. The church is known for having needles everywhere. When we entered there was a dude wandering around in the basement who was high out of his mind...so we went upstairs quickly, but some young guys followed us in and asked if we wanted them to show us the bell tower and we said no thanks. One was on his phone constantly, which made us nervous because he could have been calling anyone to come and we had thousands of dollars of equipment. We ended up just leaving. A photo isn't really worth the risk.
6. You have a pretty broad IG feed. What would you say your current “go-to” thing to shoot is?
My ultimate favourite type of photography is abandonment. But I can’t always travel because I’m busy adulting, so to fill the void, I also shoot in the city at night with my Toronto peeps and I have been trying to expand more into nature shooting as well, for a new challenge.
7. We all love watching your adventures with your bando boo. How did you love birds meet?
I met @bando.bill through Instagram 3.5 years ago. He was the very first artist I came across that turned abandoned places into fine art photography. I fell in love with his work instantly. After 6 months of following each other, he invited me on an explore and that was it for me. Exploring consumed me and a couple months later we started exploring together non-stop and we got married a month ago! He’s my bestie – my ride or die.
8. If you could of chose one abandoned church to get hitched in, which would you choose?
We definitely threw around this idea! Had we have done this, it would have been in a heavily shot church not far from the US/CAN border. It’s the first abandoned spot that Eric and I explored alone together. And not only does it hold sentimental value, it is gorgeous! It has a white/cream coloured interior, a gorgeous ceiling and just the right amount of decay! Some of the peeps from that area have started calling it “Stacey’s church” because I love it so much.
9. Any big trips coming up soon for the two of you?
I have recently begun researching a few different countries in Europe. It is our ultimate dream to explore overseas, so summer of 2019 we will be spending our honeymoon exploring some of Europe’s finest abandonments! We are very excited about that, but in the meantime we will still puddle around the US.
10. If you could choose a dream location, place or specific spot to go, what would it be?
I just managed to get into my “holy grail” spot that I had waited 3.5 years for. It was a garment factory with sewing machines and tons of colourful threads. It was amazing! But when thinking about the future and all the locations I have been researching in Europe, I’d say the blue chapel (monastery) in Italy or cooling tower (power plant) in Belgium.
11. You have a constantly beautiful editing style. Without giving away all of your secrets, how did you come about the styling of editing?
When I first started into photography, a friend taught me how to HDR, and I went through a phase that I wasn’t very proud of lol…but when I met Eric, he taught me how to HDR and make it look a little more natural looking. It was at that point I started experimenting and came up with a very bright, dream-like, romantic type of edit. Once I perfected that, I got a little bored and so I started watching some tutorials on YouTube and experimented a little and came up with my current style, which is a little darker and more mysterious. I’m starting to get bored again though, so we will see what happens next!
12. What are your top 3 favorite photos?
This is a really mean questions lol! It’s so hard to pick.
a) A photo from a mansion we shot - all the stuff was still inside in piles on the floor. Myself and @annielipton went through a pile of “junk” and set up a little dressing table. I loved the end result.
b) The little TV I shot inside an abandoned rural home in Canada. The little TV and the crack in the wall behind it gave the photo so much character. And that was also when I discovered my love of cutting things in half with my camera frame.
c) The shot of Eric and I at the top of the abandoned waterslides outside of Toronto - which has now been demolished to make way for a public park. Not only is it a pretty cool shot, it holds some awesome memories.
13. Let’s get to know you a little more, what are some of your other hobbies?
I dabbled in many things, but all have somewhat subsided since I started exploring. I used to play guitar and sing for hours, I used to snowboard as well, but now I pretty much just Netflix and edit or Netflix and research. On Friday or Saturday nights (if we aren’t shooting) we often hang out with friends and go out for food and drinks. I recently started teaching myself how to cook as well, so we will see how that goes!
14. Your Instagram link says you’re an ambassador. Would you like to give any shoutouts?
Yes, I am an ambassador for @TenbaBags. They have a line of bags made specifically for photographers. Anything from messenger bags, to backpacks, to travel luggage. I have a backpack and they recently sent me a messenger bag to try out and to photograph. I love both bags and definitely recommend them!
15. Where can we follow you & your work?
I am @the_sparkler on Instagram! IG is the place to be!