Photographer Rebecca Skinner has made a career by going places most people have forgotten.
She says she grew up on a farm and was always fascinated with inspecting the old cars her dad left sitting out in the yard or creeping around the old falling down barn.
As she got older, she ventured farther and farther into the unknown. She learned to work a camera, and she’d take it with her as she explored old factories, burned buildings, shut-down schools. Pretty much anywhere she knew she’d be alone.
“It’s quiet. There’s no people around,” she says. “It’s totally a different world, really, when you go into some of these places.”
Some of Skinner’s favorite moments are when she finds little bits of nature slowly overcoming these forgotten man-made structures.
A flower pushing through a crack in some stone. A tree in the middle of a closed-up factory.
“It’s kind of sad,” she says. “Some of these places are so beautiful and to see them getting taken over and falling apart is sad.”
But maybe it’s a sort of new life for many of these places, destined to be demolished or slowly decay. Instead, they find a new purpose and become beautiful again, though in a different way.
Here are some of Skinner’s all-time favorite shots.
1. Small trees reach for sunlight inside an old school.
2. Water pools and overcomes the inside of this factory.
3. This truck loses what looks to have been a very long battle with some thick brush.
4. An overturned vehicle shelters a small tree.
5. Plant life bursts from the seams of an old carseat back.
6. Small ferns push through a pile of broken china.
7. Moss creeps its way slowly across this abandoned room.
8. Vines sprout through a broken factory window.
9. A chair sits, soon to be swallowed up by new life.
Skinner says the first time she ever photographed an abandoned house, a man with a shotgun showed up out of nowhere, asking what she was doing there.
(He was nice once she explained why she was there.)
Another time, while exploring an old river mill, she nearly stepped through a hole in the floor that would have dunked her into the river below.
Needless to say, it’s dangerous work. But Skinner thinks it’s important to photograph these places, these moments, before they’re gone for good.
“These places are going so quickly,” she says. “Every time I see some place I want to photograph, it might be gone the next time.”
If her photos prove anything, it’s that the world will always keep spinning and that the resiliency of Mother Nature is absolutely beautiful to behold.