London Off Limits...

Urban exploration embraces the art and adventure of seeking out and capturing cast-off locations that lay hidden behind the scenes of cities. From abandoned tube stations to disused factories, these fascinating locations offer a whole new perspective on cities as we know them. In recent years, the urbex trend has exploded at fast pace and has become a growing trend amongst adventure enthusiasts, who have taken outdoor pursuits from the countryside into the urban landscape. Photography sits at the heart of urbex and is used to document, celebrate and share these hidden worlds before they crumble away unnoticed.

At street level London is a bustling city with an ancient core. Featuring a blend of historic and modern architecture, picturesque river scenes and an underground network of tunnels and stations, but off the beaten track and not visible on maps is a secret city you never knew existed waiting to be explored. An urban jungle, packed full of derelict, abandoned and decaying hidden gems that have been forgotten yet are full of life and fascinating stories.

Inspiring you to embrace urban exploration in London and beyond, Canon has partnered with Holly-Marie Cato, Photographer and Urban Explorer to bring you her take on the growing art and trend. Follow Holly-Marie as she gives you an exclusive look at urban exploration in London, offering up explorer kit advice and top tips to remember when discovering off limits locations. Canon also brings you helpful hints on how to capture the urbex scene from a truly unique perspective.

Holly-Marie Cato

Holly is a self-taught photographer heavily influenced by the urban fabric of London. Combining her passion for photography with her background in architecture, she likes to capture the cityscape and is fascinated with how people occupy space. Holly fell into urban exploration from her curious nature, always wanting to see what is round the other corner. That has led her to explore abandoned buildings and access rooftops across her city and abroad, bringing new perspectives and documenting these relics of history and the story that lies within these buildings. Now Holly spends a great deal of time honing her skill as a street photographer and documentarian.

Holly-Marie Cato

Photo credit: Holly-Marie Cato

Urbex Locations

Before embarking on urbex adventures, take the time to plan what you want to see. Identify exact addresses and seek permissions for entry. When you arrive at urbex sites take the time to map out your route to ensure you fully experience the space. Look for details that will help you to piece together the history of the location, anything from the papers on the floor, inscriptions on the walls or items that have been left behind. Every space has a story to tell, it is up to you to uncover it.

Lastly, don’t forget your camera. You’ll want to capture all the incredible details and document your urbex journey from the moment you arrive to when you leave. You can tell your story though photographs of things like doorways, tunnels and spiral staircases, as well as the little details, like graffiti, peeling paint and decaying furniture or items left behind.

London train from above

“I love to photograph the abandoned buildings in London. They offer large exploration sites and an incredible wealth of history. There are plans underway to redevelop these sites so I feel blessed to see the evidence of the past still intact.”

What to pack?

Sling Strap – Wear your camera on a strap across your body for ease when moving around

Waterproof shoes – You’ll need durable shoes to explore underground or derelict spaces

Gorilla pod – A flexible tripod for setting up shots in small spaces will help achieve long exposure photography in low-level light

Flashlight – A small but powerful light can be used to brighten up your shots

Spare camera batteries and memory cards – never be caught short

What to pack for urban exploration and photography

birds eye view of London

Rules of Urbex...

Product information

Whilst on your own urbex adventures, try the following cameras to capture scenes uncovered to keep, share and inspire others:

Feeling inspired? Share your photos

If the above has inspired you to explore, why not share your own off limit locations and experiences via our Gallery? As well as letting the world see your work, you can view and like photos from other photographer lovers and try our monthly photo challenge.