Niki Feijen’s Desolate Photographs Are Beautiful, Poetic Nightmare Fuel

Niki Feijen photographs a world long forgotten. A world which most of us would rather not visit — full of rotting beams, crumbling masonry, and mildew blooms. Yet through his attention to detail and use of light, he makes these abandoned spaces look… beautiful. Poetic even. Coats are left on racks, empty bottles collect dust, and moss grows unchecked.

We spoke with the 38-year-old Dutch photographer this week, in the lead-up to Halloween, about his imagery, eye for detail, and most unexplainable encounters.

Did you study photography formally or is it a hobby turned profession?

I never studied photography nor did I have any photography courses. I just started shooting at a young age and went from holiday shoots to rally races and concert photography, then, finally, to abandoned buildings.

Why did that subject matter initially appeal to you?

For me there are three main reasons to shoot abandoned buildings. First of all: the amazing architecture of old buildings. They don’t build ’em like that anymore! Staircase railings for example, carefully forged and sculpted by hand — a massive job that maybe took months to finish.

Second, there is this cool thing that nature always reclaims its grounds. I’ve seen it five years ago in the Chernobyl Exclusion zone too. No matter how well the structures are built, eventually nature reclaims it. Green is growing through roofs, moss is turning an old bed into a beautiful green blanket.

Third, it’s a bit of preserving history. Most of the places I photograph will crumble and finally disappear. The only things that will be left are my photographs and the memories of the people who lived there.