Photography in America’s Ghost Towns

In Photography Tips, Skies and Coffee by porteengear

The winter season is coming to an end and the snow has melted. The first shoots of green are starting to appear and that brings a sense of renewed adventure for those of us in the colder regions of the world.

Ghost towns can offer a great exploration of photography! We have plenty of these in the United States. Our ruins are not as old and full of history as some countries on the other side of the ocean but we have many towns that have disappeared due to changes in agriculture, travel by railroad and the depressions over time, the great and the small.
Inside Mill
Inspired by a friend and fellow photographer, the first outing of the year was to a registered ghost town in mid Michigan for a product shoot and just some good old adventure. This property was located by searching

Since the branding of Porteen Gear is rustic and vintage, buildings like this old mill are great locations for a product shoot. This one was full of old textures, peeling paint and metal fixtures.

PG Productproducts

These locations are also a great place to hone your photography skills. You can practice different angles and shoot in different lighting on the interior and exterior if there is a building on the property. I love to photograph low to the ground to show a different perspective. In the photo below, the old truck grill became the focal point with the mill looming in the background.

Be very careful on these properties as there are falling ceilings, weak stair treads, glass shards and other hazards. The big metal containers had fallen into the building and crashed right through the floor. You never know when parts of the structure are going to cave in. This property had a basement with holes in the floor and concrete shafts outside where grain was poured in. They were easy to miss due to all of the debris. Please see the tips at the end of this post.

Mill Outside

Stay tuned for more photography adventures this year with tips on astrophotography and ways to help your local historical archives. We will be helping Michigan State University record farmsteads in West Michigan during the Spring of 2016.

New ProductsJulia showcasing a Stormy Kromer hat and our new Paracord Water Bottle carrier.
You can find these at in the Store Section.

There are probably many sites out there that showcase ghost towns around the world. is a simple site that showcases the US and Canada. It offers a place to share experiences, gives property information and showcases photos from other explorers. It has a forum and a classified section. It is definitely worth checking out. You might just have a ghost town or two near you!

  • Private Property

    Please be respectful of trespassing laws and signs. If a property is posted, you should respect the laws.

  • Hazards

    Many abandoned properties will have weak floors, broken steps and glass shards. Take great care when roaming on the grounds. You may be in a rural area with no idea where the nearest med center is and no cell signal.

  • Buddy System

    It’s best to travel to these properties with a fellow adventurer or companion. If an injury or other mishap were to occur, someone would have your back.