These Photographs Of Abandoned Locations Give You A Glimpse Into A Post-Apocalyptic World

Published February 15, 2016
Updated September 12, 2018

Johnny Joo's photographs of abandoned locations give insight to a life after humans, but his work has a much deeper meaning than that.

The remains of abandoned towns and buildings have provided inspiration for countless horror films and afternoon jaunts to the outskirts of town. But 25-year-old photographer Johnny Joo knows that abandoned places can offer much more than that: beauty.

The morgue of an abandoned asylum.Johnny Joo

A countryside home with a collapsed roof.Johnny Joo

Abandoned Literature Home
An abandoned home, still containing all of the person's belongings.Johnny Joo

"The forest where time stopped."Johnny Joo

Aquatic Ruin Zone
A former restaurant signage factory and daycare.Johnny Joo

Astoria Oregon Wreck
Shipwreck outside of Astoria, Ore.Johnny Joo

Big Fish Spectre Abandoned
The town of Spectre, Alabama, an abandoned movie set from the filming of Big Fish.Johnny Joo

A partially demolished Brewster Douglas building in Detroit that no longer exists.Johnny Joo

An abandoned car overtaken by nature.Johnny Joo

A former Dixies Diner and truckers rest stop in Pennsylvania.Johnny Joo

Knox County Poorhouse
The former Knox County Poorhouse in Ohio that burned down in 2015.Johnny Joo

Lincoln Way
The abandoned neighborhood of Lincoln Way in Pennsylvania.Johnny Joo

An abandoned playhouse in a Pennsylvania elementary school.Johnny Joo

The abandoned Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.Johnny Joo

A box seat at the abandoned Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.Johnny Joo

Randall Park Mall Theatre
A theatre inside of the Randall Park Mall, once one of the largest in the country, in Randall, Ohio.Johnny Joo

Rolling Acres Mall Akron Ohio
The Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.Johnny Joo

Rolling Acres Mall Blizzard
The Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio, after a snowfall.Johnny Joo

Six Flags New Orleans
The abandoned Six Flags in New Orleans.Johnny Joo

St. Peter and Paul Church in Pittsburgh, Penn.Johnny Joo

Victorian Ohio Home
A Victorian home in Ohio.Johnny Joo

Joo's abandoned location photography stems from a love for adventure. Joo — who cites artists such as Salvador Dalí, Hayao Miyazaki, Jack Vettriano, and Gregory Crewdson as inspiration — started photographing these sites in 2006, and says that doing so allows him to show others an unknown and forgotten world amid everyday life.

"When I started photographing abandoned structures," Joo said, "there wasn't as much of a presence of 'urbex' or 'urban exploration,' and it was simply just adventuring, finding cool places and photographing them to document them along with everything else in life."

For Joo, that "adventuring" has meant exploring a 28-building asylum complex straight out of a horror movie -- loaded with ticks and moldy walls, inhabited only by stacks of medical records from a time when the mentally ill were treated with disregard. Each site Joo explores has a distinctive mood, which in a way anthropomorphizes them. "The structures become a victim; a marionette to nature's decay," Joo wrote when explaining the photographs in his book "Empty Spaces."

The wider scope of Joo's art isn't about the inevitability of death and decay, though; it is about human connection.

"I want to be able to reach people and truly bring more people together in life," Joo said. "I want to share art, human interaction, creativity. We're all in this together, we may as well take the opportunity given to communicate and learn. Without using that, we are wasting so much."

To learn more about Joo's artwork -- including his photography, writing and videography -- check out his blog Architectural Afterlife and his YouTube page Urbex US.

All That's Interesting
All That's Interesting is a Brooklyn-based digital publisher that seeks out the stories to illuminate the past, present, and future.