Unbelievable urban exploration photos

“I’m just an average guy that likes taking photos with my smartphone,” says electrical engineer Jose Vazquez, known on Flickr as jmvazquezjr (jmv_nyc). “It started out as a hobby but now has truly defined my life.”

“I can’t imagine doing anything else”, he tells us.

Jose began taking pictures four years ago while traveling abroad with his wife. He bought a DSLR camera but found it extremely difficult. “I was very intimidated,” Jose says. “It was so overwhelming with buttons everywhere. I kept asking myself, ‘What does this do? What does that do?’ I was a mess.”

After a few years of taking pictures on a DSLR, Jose bought an iPhone and immediately realized its potential as a camera. “It was just simpler,” he says. “I liked being able to take a picture, edit and share it wherever and whenever I wanted.”

He began downloading apps, joining social networks and over time his skill set progressed. “It was very helpful as a learning tool,” Jose says. “I would upload a picture, ask for constructive criticism and learn new techniques that helped me as a photographer.”

Given the convenience and accessibility of his smartphone’s camera, Jose quickly developed his photographic style.

“I normally don’t have a plan when I go out,” he says. “From the moment I’m on the train, I’m snapping away. I go to the park, shoot interesting people, beautiful landscapes – I just kinda wing it.”

Sinister Smiles at the Sanatorium 

View From the Top 

Jose became interested in urban exploration after seeing photos on Flickr. He was fascinated by abandoned buildings and old hospitals.

“Seeing the decay, the peeling paint, all these places that have been taken over by the elements was incredible,” he says. “Thinking about the history and what went on there…I was totally into it from then on.”

Tunnel Seating

One of his favorite photos is the one above called Tunnel Seating (a photo taken with a DSLR camera) which was taken at a psychiatric hospital.

“That place had been open since the late 1800s,” Jose says. “Just thinking about what went on in there all those years – it’s like having an all access pass to a museum that no one can enter. It’s an amazing experience.”


Photography has completely taken over Jose’s life. He even plans to pursue it full-time in the future.

“My wife pushes me everyday to do more,” he admits. “She sees how happy it makes me and wants me to go down this route.”

Jose credits his smartphone for finding his new passion in photography.

“It is really surprising how much photography means to me now. It just drives me everyday,” he says. “I can’t wait to pull my phone out and snap away.”

Those Little Hands

For all of you aspiring smartphone photographers out there, Jose offers these tips:

  1. Download an app that gives you control of the exposure and focus on your phone. It opens so many doors creatively for things such as: controlling depth of field or creating a silhouette.
  2. Take the time to learn about what goes into picture taking – especially when it comes to composition.
  3. Shoot pictures all the time. You’ll be surprised at what you’re into when you start shooting a lot.

Visit Jose’s photostream for more of his photography.

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