Urban exploring - and photographing what you find - has been gaining in prominence both in Sheffield and across the world as an extreme sport.
Urban explorers not only risk a criminal record but also their health in revealing forgotten parts of modern culture.
Urban exploring "is the examination of off-limits or seldom seen parts of man-made structures" according to James Nestor in SFGate (San Francisco Chronicle).
Urban explorers aim to discover, explain and expose the substance of the modern constructed world, showing all things related to society that are supposed to be hidden.
Old houses, factories, mental hospitals, sewers, fallout shelters and asylums are some of the most common targets of urban explorers but there are no strict rules or limits in what should be photographed.
The idea is to show urban reality in a realistic way. Some people blame urban explorers for vandalising old buildings and stealing from them. But one of the basic rules of urban exploring is to respect the location they have gotten into. Kurt Miguel Tavares says in Yahoo Voices that the unofficial motto for 'Urbex', as it is called, is "take nothing but photographs, leave only footprints".
Some urban explorers have been threatened with Asbos while others, like Bradley L Garrett have made their Phd on urban exploration photography.
Some people are attracted by urban exploring simply through curiosity. Others love the adventure and the adrenaline. But urban explorers face a range of dangers, from collapsing roofs and floors, substances like asbestos to guard dogs, broken glass and hostile squatters. Serious urban explorers think that you should not do it without knowing the dangers and you should protect yourself where possible. Many use respirators and specialist attire.
Sheffield's urban exploring
Sheffield has its own urban explorers who try try to "portay" the urban aspect of the Steel City. Richard Connolly works for a local housing management company but his main hobby is photography, including urban photography. He has his own group on Facebook (Chard Remains Photographical).
He says that he reads the comments of fans and takes photos people ask for but would not change his style as it is his artistic "identity". However, he doesn't like people calling him an artist or even photographer but believes that street art, like graffiti, is a form of modern art that makes dull cities more interesting.
Whenever possible, he supports street artists of Sheffield. He regularly takes photos of graffiti artists and their work, many of which can be found in his group.
Of course, Richard loves the adventure of urban exploring and he likes showing the public parts of their city that they could not see otherwise.
"I've been injured many times trying to enter into abandoned buildings. Unfortunately sometimes you can get into them only by risking that you will get injured no matter how much you take care of yourself. You have to be extremely careful and it's always better not to do it alone."
Like most urban explorers, Richard believes that there is nothing wrong with urban photography.
"I understand that it's annoying when strangers enter into a private building but when this building is abandoned and ready to fall apart how can this be bad? It can be bad only because it is dangerous for the people who risk their lives in order to take a good picture. You cannot call them trespassers. Most of the buildings have broken doors, broken windows, floors and walls collapsing. So anyone could be inside."
Urban explorers take pictures from neglected or abandoned parts of modern culture. These pictures often have historical value. Though it sometimes requires controversial methods, the result is a form of art with historical, cultural and artistic use. As many urban explorers say, finding the owner of an abandoned building often seems impossible but getting the picture is more realistic.