12/16/2013 12:26 EST | Updated 02/15/2014 05:59 EST

Abandoned Buildings Are Full of Lives Left Behind [PHOTOS]

Abandoned Buildings: the eyesore on the corner, the creepy farmhouse you pass on the back-roads, the large red brick building with the boarded up windows, the vacant factory off in the distance. To most people, they are just a passing sight on a drive with little to no thought or consideration given. They come in all shapes, sizes and styles. To me they all tell a different story, whether you make that story up in your own head, whether you piece all the parts of a story together or whether the story is right there in front of you...they each have a history.


Abandoned House Photography

Something most people also don't notice, or wouldn't know of is the beauty in the decay of an abandoned building. Behind those boarded up doors and windows are winding staircases, furniture, decorative fixtures. The many years of multiple layers of paint: when decay sets in each layer peels away, unveiling a kaleidoscope of colours. Wallpaper, years of wallpaper peeling away that reveals two, three, four, five layers of wallpaper. What I've come to admire about the abandoned house is what I call the pieces of life left behind, the mystery of what caused this home or business, once full of life to become dark and vacant. Many abandoned houses are completely empty, some still hold a few hints of the lives lived many years ago and some, for whatever reason still hold almost all of the relics and trinkets and pieces of everyday life.


Some of the most interesting items I have come across in these places range from a late 19th century or early 20th century gramophone, as I lifted the top of this rare gem it looked as though no time had passed since the last time it played a tune. Inside were small tins of replacement needles and a bag with a cloth designed to keep the records clean. The records that were played on this antique were not the light and flimsy ones of the past 40-50 years, these were thick and heavy, almost like porcelain records.


I've also seen many pianos; this type of a find in an abandoned house always evokes feelings of sadness while at the same time feelings of curiosity. The image it creates of a family once sitting around listening while someone plays a tune, or a young child learning to play for the first time. An abandoned piano adds a level of sadness in any abandoned home.


The curiosity and lure of this hobby doesn't end with houses though, typically the houses are just a starting point, there are also many abandoned hospitals, asylums and institutions to be explored. Much like the abandoned house, there are many things to look for in an abandoned hospital. Many hospitals and institutions contained beauty salons for patients; I visited an abandoned insane asylum with an incredible beauty salon. The scene in the room may have been staged by a previous visitor to the location (which is not uncommon), however it could also be just as it was when it was abandoned, regardless it makes for a fantastic photograph that speaks for itself.


The hospitals and institutions from decades ago were made much different than the sterile and generic looking places we visit in our generation. Spiral staircases, decorative wrought iron railings, brick work, a domed cafeteria topped with a stained glass oculus, long brick arched tunnels that connect the many buildings on site. Tuberculosis hospitals of the early 20th century featured large balconies outside of the rooms, one hospital I visited had beautiful pillars outside of each room, making for an amazing view from the outside and the inside.


There is an entire worldwide network of people, photographers and curious explorers who visit and photograph abandoned buildings, through this blog series I hope to show the reader what secrets and treasures hide behind that boarded up window or fenced off property. While they look like an eye sore to some on the outside, there is true beauty in decay on the inside and in some cases -- there is a time capsule just waiting to be opened and viewed. From bullets, to love letters, bibles, records, creepy dolls and trophies of one's accomplishments -- there is always something to be found (and left behind when you leave) inside an abandoned house.

This originally appeared on the Freaktography blog.