Romain Veillon’s photos capturing abandoned houses
Thirty-year-old Paris based photographer Romain Veillon is the first artists we’re going to present in our new category „photography“. His extraordinary photographs all revolve around the same theme: abandoned churches, abandoned hospitals, prisons, and abandoned nests. They radiate magic, past, and evanescence at the same time. One day, Romain stumbled upon pictures taken of the city Kolmanskop while browsing the National Geographic. Kolmanskop, once a mining town in which white miners settled to operate diamond mining, was abandoned in 1954. Romain was fascinated by this unusual place and planned to travel to Namibia to take pictures of the town. We are happy that Romain agreed to share some of his awesome images from his series „Kolmanskop“ and other fantastic photos of abandoned nests, which he took while wandering through Paris.
Your photographic work is concerned with scenes of abandoned places. How and when did this idea arise?
I have been inspired for a long time by abandoned places and the universe and atmosphere that comes with it. Since I was a kid, I always loved wandering in these locations, it was like playing Indiana Jones. My grandmother used to run a transport company; I remember playing in the wharehouse and in the abandoned houses of the workers for hours. Then, taking pictures of it was the next step of the process. Now, I try to show the beauty left in these abandoned nests.
What fascinates you about these abandoned nests?
Mostly, being a witness to underline the strength of nature that always takes back what’s hers, but also the ephemeral aspect of human constructions; symbolized here by the progress of vegetation through what remains of humans‘ past lives. There is also a post-apocalyptic style with this decay. Trying to capture what is beautiful in what remains is important to me and showing how the disappearance of man can create a strange and magical atmosphere.
Isn’t this topic a little bit depressing?
I don’t think so. Well, at least not for me. Living in Paris, going in this kind of places is relaxing. There is nobody, it’s calm and peaceful, you can finally be alone with yourself and take some time off. There is some poetry in this place, and I prefer to think about what’s left over what is missing. Castles, factories, hospitals, churches… Everything is ephemeral. And I try not to live in the past. Everything goes back to earth in the end, so let’s enjoy it before it’s gone.
What was the scariest and what was the most remarkable place you’ve ever walked into while searching for a scene?
Of course, Kolmanskop was the most remarkable place I have seen! You feel very alone in a deserted town like this one when you stay several days, but I was ok and feeling very lucky to spend some relaxing time in this special place. And Namibia was definetely an incredible country where I want to go back to as soon as I can (in the desert of Namib and to the skeleton coast). During the entire week it took to take the pictures, I focused a lot on the lighting and thought about the time when I could have the best light for the important shots I wanted to make. Then, I guess, I enjoyed just exploring the entire city and trying to imagine the stories of the miners that worked there. I am not easily scared as I said earlier but I guess it would have been the prison in the north of France. You can really feel what these people, locked in a 3m square cell, were thinking and how hard it was. You can imagine the pain that this place has witnessed!
How do you find these abandoned nests?
I spend a lot of time on the internet researching abandoned places. Sometimes you have to find clues on pictures of others photographers and investigate to find the location. Sometimes you just have to read a lot of architectural and historical documents to find what could be a great place. Or sometimes you are in your car, you keep your eyes open, and you just find these locations by chance.
Do you think about the people who lived in these rooms in the past?
Of course! One of the thing I really enjoy in this world of decay is the exploration of an abandoned house, for example, and trying to figure out what was the life of the residents like, and why this place has been abandoned. Imagining and creating the stories of a past long forgotten with the help of objects or documents that are still there is really something I enjoy.
What is your plan for the future? Are you going to continue your work documenting abandoned places?
I will continue to take pictures of these abandoned nests every time I have the chance. But in the future, I think, I will focus on travelling very far to find other types of abandoned places—more exotic, of course (as Kolmanskop had been last year)! My next project will take me to Argentina, for example. And I will also organize exhibitions where I will find partners who are interested in my photographs. And I am also trying to find a publisher for a book on Kolmanskop.
Visit the official website of Romain Veillon.
You’re a publisher and interested in Romain’s work? Please, do not hesitate to contact him.