David Whitemyer, 47, of Rockland, has a knack for finding beauty in the abandoned. He finds art in grim-looking abandoned sites and posts to his Instagram @mahikerbiker, always accompanied by a witty pun for a caption. We chatted with Whitemyer about his inspirations and adventures.
Q: Why do you gravitate toward shooting abandoned places and creepy scenes?
A: Exploring old abandoned buildings has been an interest of mine for a while, before I was a teenager. I am an architect and a history buff and those things go together; I just find those old decaying spaces absolutely beautiful.
Q: How do you find new venues to shoot?
A: Some of it is online research, Google, and Google Maps, and spending a lot of time exploring satellite views. Most of it is just driving around. There are abandoned buildings all over the place, especially here in New England. And if you just slow down enough to look out your window, you’ll find them.
Q: I’ve noticed the hashtags you use include #grime_nation and #abandon_seekers. Just how big is the abandoned photography IG community?
A: It’s huge. This hobby, if you will, of photographing abandoned buildings, a lot of people refer to it as “urbexing” which stands for urban exploring. Some people call it “bando” and that stands for abandoned. So those various hashtags connect to different accounts and they are all over the world.
Q: Do you interact with the other #abandon_seekers on Instagram?
A: Yes. Sometimes we reach out and invite one another to join us on a weekend trip. Sometimes there are organized trips and activities we might meet each other at, and sometimes we meet people that we’ve been corresponding with online for months and years and get a chance to finally meet in person.
Q: You always have a witty one-liner to accompany your pictures. How did you come up with that idea?
A: I came up with that a few years ago when every caption seemed boring. I didn’t know what to say about a room or a window, and I am also a writer and I enjoy it. Coming up with puns is half the fun for me. Sometimes I will come up with the pun before I even take the photograph. I’ll think of a pun and need to find a great photo for it.
Q: Aside from Massachusetts, I’ve noticed you’ve tagged Connecticut, Las Vegas, and even Austria. Where has been your favorite place to shoot?
A: I travel a lot and I usually bring my camera along. Southeastern New England, near where I live, just because I have the time to go out and discover the best places. Another neat place is a town called Nelson, Nevada, which is southeast of Los Vegas. It’s a ghost town with a bunch of old rusty cars and buildings and other junk.
Q: If you could shoot anywhere, where would you go?
A: If I could find somebody that could take me to the best places, I would love to go… wait… I know what the right answer is. It’s Chernobyl!Sophie Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @the_grandCannon