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Jason Toews and fifi (the band)

Scranton Lace Company, June 2013


No tales of eluding rent-a-cops or climbing fences by moonlight, because this was a completely above-board, perfectly legal, property-owner-sanctioned explore. More of a tour/workshop, really, organized by my good friend and UE superstar Matthew Christopher, who shared pro tips such as “smaller aperture equals greater depth of field” and “always remove the lens cap before shooting.”

There were almost 30 of us on the tour, including housewives and lawyers, horse trainers and country music roadies. I admit to a brief rush of elitist disappointment: If all of these mainstream people call themselves Urban Explorers, I guess it’s no longer a fringe activity, no longer anything special. Kinda like when my music snob friend stopped listening to U2 because they became “too popular.” My hipster snit faded as soon as we got inside the building and made some friends, including Laura Kicey, who is a much better photographer than I am and has very cool red hair, and whose name should always be accompanied by a flourish of castanets.

The property owner’s brother told us some ghost stories (each one beginning with the words, “I really shouldn’t be telling you this…”), I climbed to the top of the bell tower (yikes), and a few of us got lost somewhere below the bowling alley. I never did find the barber shop. After a group photo and a late lunch at Glider Diner, there were several hours of daylight remaining, so a few of us visited an abandoned coal breaker, got filthy and dehydrated, and probably contracted a life-threatening case of black lung (cough cough). Those photos are in a separate gallery.

You can read all about Scranton Lace here, and a previous photography exhibit here. If you would like to join one of Matthew’s future tours (and you really should because they’re great and also I get a small commission for each referral), check out his website for info and announcements.

Viewing the Gallery

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  1. Some really awesome shots here, I wish I was there!

  2. Wow. I think these might be among my favorite photos. Really beautiful and evocative.

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